For the second year, the Briscoe Western Art Museum is hosting its free Yanaguana Indian Arts Market this weekend. The market will be open Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Nearly 40 Native American artists will display and sell hand-crafted jewelry, paintings, basketry, pottery, carvings, and beadwork. Santa Clara Pueblo potters Jody, Susan, and Kaa Folwell, Navajo weaver Nanabah Aragon, doll maker Glenda McKay, and beadwork artist Karis Jackson will give artist demonstrations throughout the weekend, giving attendees an intimate understanding of their craft.
The term “Yanaguana,” named by the Papaya people who occupied this region before and during Spanish colonization, is the earliest known name for the San Antonio River.
“The name of the market is an attempt to honor the indigenous peoples who lived here,” said Jenny Chowning, senior head of education and programs at the Briscoe Western Art Museum.
The museum sits on the banks of the San Antonio River Walk, adjacent to La Villita and the Arneson River Theatre.
“We thought the name was a nice tribute to honor the market, especially given our proximity to the river,” Chowning said.
The United States has a circuit of Native American arts markets, including the renowned Santa Fe Indian Market, and markets in affiliation with art museums such as the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, and the Heard Museum of American Indian Art and History in Phoenix.
Chowning and a colleague traveled to the Heard Museum earlier this year to draw ideas from its market, which annually draws 15,000 visitors and more than 600 Native American artists.
The 40 artists coming to the Briscoe Museum are traveling artists who attend the major indigenous art markets around the country. Chowning and her colleagues scheduled the Yanaguana Indian Arts Market during a time of year when other markets were not taking place.
“(The market) aligns with the mission of our museum, which is to promote the arts of the American West,” she said. “It is very much a way for us to support and cultivate the artistic work of the natives peoples.”
Chowning stressed that the market will go beyond the reigns of traditional Native American art and sell contemporary pieces.
“A lot of people have preconceived notions of what Indian artwork is, but we are working with artists who are doing contemporary, non-traditional art,” she said.
The Yanaguana Indian Arts Market hosted 16 artists and drew about 600 people in its first year. Chowning hopes to double attendance this year. Compared to the other markets in the nation, San Antonio’s is still small, so artists have less competition for sales and attendees have a greater opportunity to interact with the artists. Growth is inevitable after last year’s word of mouth enthusiasm for the market, so enjoy the market’s scale while it lasts.
“We are trying to build a market that the artists want to come to, building a symbiotic relationship between the artists and our institution,” Chowning said.
Music and dance performances, including an interactive storytelling session, will take place during market hours. Both days’ sessions will conclude with a jam session led by conjunto musician Juan Tejeda and his cousin, Armando Tejeda.
The American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions will sell fry bread, bison burgers, and prickly pear agua frescas.
*Top image: A ceremonial eagle dance performed at the Inaugural Yanaguana Indian Arts Market. Photo by Scott Ball.