You can attend hands-on workshops in Indian arts
Students gather expectantly around Lucy Lewis, the grande dame of Acoma pottery and head of one of the Southwest's great Indian pottery dynasties. Will she approve of their pots made, under her instruction, with coils of clay?
As she sits at an outdoor table, her expert fingers feel for evenness. She grins and nods. "It's coming fine." The students laugh, as do their teachers, Emma Mitchell and Delores Garcia, whose pottery is also famous and pricy. Fine geometric designs, drawn by hand, distinguish their wondrously symmetrical work. (Students' designs frequently deteriorate into
crooked or squashed patterns.)
This class is one of more than 60 workshops planned in the Southwest, mainly between spring and late summer. At the workshops, laymen can learn techniques from Native American artists, some of them world renowned.
Workshops can take place on a weekend afternoon, fill a two-day weekend, or be the focus of a one- or two-week session. Lessons are casual. No prior skills are needed, though classmates often include professional artists.
Enrollment is usually limited to 8 to 30, so sign up early; send a stamped, selfaddressed envelope with all queries. Fees range from free (you pay for materials only) at Santa Fe's Museum of Indian Arts and Culture to about $900 for a twoweek adventure near an artist's home. In most cases, the fee includes materials.
Many classes are at museums. A nonprofit arts school in Idyllwild, California, offers the most varied schedule, from oncampus courses to in-the-field workshops in other states.
Commenting on her experience in a pottery workshop, Donna Snapp says, "When you attend classes, obviously you learn a deeper respect for the work the Indians do. But mostly I've loved the privilege of working and visiting for five days with our Indian teachers. I'll go home with insights into their lives and culture that'd be hard to get any other way."
Idyllwild At the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts (ISOMATA), most workshops in the Mother Earth Father Sky program are held on the pine-clad 205-acre campus. Tucked into the San Jacinto Mountains, the school is about 45 minutes from Palm Springs, For a free catalog, write or call ISOMATA, Box 38, Idyllwild 92349; (714) 659-2171, (213) 622-0355, or (619) 282-3036. (The school requires a $25 registration fee.)
May 19 through July 2: series of weekend Native American lectures and workshops includes dining on Indian meals students help prepare. Hours: 10 to 4. Fee: $125 per weekend.
June 11 through July 8: one- to two-week classes include Cahuilla basketmaking; Casas Grandes and Cochiti pottery; Hopi jewelry, pottery, carved sculptures; Jemez pottery; Northwest Coast carved masks; Tohono O'odham (Papago) baskets; San Ildefonso pottery. Hours: 9 to 4. Fee: $325 per week (room and board cost $185 to $275 extra; camping is less).
Los Angeles. In July, the Southwest Museum plans a Navajo weaving workshop. For details, write or call Education Department, Southwest Museum, Box 128, Los Angeles 90042; (213) 221-2164.
Newbury Park. April 1, and every three months thereafter. At Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa in the Santa Monica Mountains, join a one-day workshop to make Chumash baskets out of pine needles and other traditional materials. Hours: 9 to 3. Fee: $27. To register, write or call Wilderness Institute, 23018 Ventura Blvd., Suite 202, Woodland Hills 91364; (818) 887-7831.
Palm Springs vicinity. May 12 through 21. In Palm Canyon, one of the last of the traditional Cahuilla basketweavers, Rosalie Valencia, teaches plant identification, preparation, and coiled basketmaking with associate Donna Largo. Fee: $650 (includes camping, meals, materials). To register, see Idyllwild entry on page 23. Santa Barbara. …