|The King's Men, part of the Rollright Stones in Warwickshire|
I flew into Bristol the day of the opening of Messengers—not a smart move—and muddled through it with only three hours of sleep. Marcus Amerman was in town and assisted with developing the concept of the show. Joanne Prince, owner of Rainmaker Art Gallery, saw the idea of messengers, and artists as messengers, working on many different levels. 18 contemporary artists participated in the show. While most were painters, photographers, and printmakers, Melissa Cody (Navajo) showed weavings, Kelly Church (Odawa-Ojibwe) showed birchbark bitings, and Marcus Amerman (Choctaw) showed both representational and stylized pictorial beadwork. As a former bike messenger, I took the art show’s theme extremely literately and painting small portraits of a Pawnee motorcycle messenger and Navajo/Mestizo walking messenger from San Francisco. Edgar Heap of Birds (Cheyenne) was also present, as he was traveling through London and Paris on business.
|Rainmaker Gallery in Bristol, England|
Unbelievably, some people stay from the beginning to the end of the talks. Max Carocci, Programme Director of World Arts and Artefacts at the British Museum, traveled over to Bristol to attend the talks. He has worked with contemporary Kiowa artists and has written several books about Plains Indian art.
It was strange but refreshing to be able to comment frankly, through art and words, on the history of US injustice against indigenous Americans without encountering the usual layers of resistance or denial. People in the audience really listened and soaked up information. They also came to the table with a great deal of knowledge. Some of the lecture-goers had traveled to Mayan temples or to South America where they had firsthand experience with Cusco School paintings or the Nazca Lines.
Bristol is the home of Banksy and actively embraces street art. They have amazing graffiti and street murals, but unfortunately I didn’t get to explore much in my short stay. Thanks so much to Maria who let me stay in her house, Andy Pink who gave myself and other artists rides, Sophie who assists at the gallery and gave Marcus and I a tour of Bath—Jane Austen’s turf!— to Emelia, my fellow Cherokee-Swede who helped with the show, and especially to Joanne whose vision brought us all together.
A messenger friend from San Francisco, Joel, lived in the sleepy northern hamlet of the Priors Marston, so I got to explore centuries-old churches and millennia-old standing stones with him, his wife Becky, and daughter Aleisha. Incredibly beautiful country steeped in history. Thank you so much for your messengerosity! (That’s Howard Williams’ term for the inherent generosity that messengers share.)
|Elija below work by Bryon Archuleta (Ohkay Owingeh)|
|Edward Chamberlain and Lyle Toledo Yazzie examine jewelry|
The North American room at the British Museum featured a survey of Canadian and United States indigenous art, from precontact, historical, modern, and contemporary, which included works by Bob Haozous and Diego Romero on permanent display. Their collection of avian and feline Hopewellian platform pipes is extraordinary. But their indigenous Mexican room is truly incredible, featuring elaborate turquoise mosaic sculptures, including the famous Aztec double-headed serpent. Believed to be a gift from Moctezuma II to the Spanish invader Hernán Cortés from 1519, the carved wooden serpent is covered with over 2000 pieces of turquoise, conch, and delicate crab shell.
|Early 18th century Cherokee incised gourd|
Jack Davy’s showed us several early 18th century Cherokee prints from the British Museum’s permanent collection, as well as a rare geometric beaded sash on stroud cloth with intact selvage, an incised gourd with a wooden stopper, and a double-woven rivercane basket with lid whose dyes were incredibly brilliant considering the basket was almost two centuries old. Afterwards, my cousin and Cherokee historian and genealogist extraordinaire Jack Baker; historian
|Cherokee visitors presenting British Museum staff|
with gifts of Cherokee pottery
Other than that, I ate a million pasties, functioned (barely) without my phone or internet in my hotel, and finally located and paid homage to the house from Spaced. Thanks so much to everyone who made this trip possible and who I met on the way. I've heard that CN Tourism is a little done in from planning the England, but my sister pointed out, we can organize our own Cherokee trip through Wales!
|London Calling 1762, America Meredith, acrylic, gel medium, five pound note, and map on panel, 2012|