Art, whether imagined and born from ancient materials and methods or emerging from contemporary trends, functions as a testament to beauty, utility and culture in any community.
The CRST Fair has shared a long tradition of showcasing the people’s art in its Lakota Artist Market and Domestic Exhibit Competition.
Inez Iron Bird, organizer for the LA Exhibit since 2005 (minus 2017 and 2018 when she was ill), said there are nine art categories and four domestic (cooking and baking) categories in this year’s adult division for the fair event, with first, second and third place winners in each category.
The youth division usually has fewer entries, so all art is judged in one category with first, second, third, fourth and fifth place winners.
Iron Bird said there are usually three judges — two male and a female, or one male and two females.
The judging is blind and completed behind closed doors.
The public can see the entries to the competition 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Thursday August 29 and Friday August 30 at the CRST Bingo Hall.
Judging will take place at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, August 31 with awards presented at 11:00 a.m.
The competition gives young and emerging artists a sense of confidence and pride in their work, because it is displayed for the public to recognize and admire, Iron Bird explained.
“The children get excited and look forward to having their art shown,” Iron Bird said.
Besides the LA Exhibit, another venue for seeing artwork during the fair will be the Wakpa Waste Artist Market.
Many of the artists who submit works of art to the LA Exhibit will also set up to sell other items at the Wakpa Waste Artist Market (WWAM), a grassroots group of artists who are working together to help support their primary source of income — the sale of their artwork, said Cheryl Red Bear, one of the group’s organizers.
WWAM (not an acronym the group is known to use, but used in this article to reference the group) is free to join, and originated with a group of ten artists who wanted to create a marketplace on CRST and a support system of artists who wanted to make selling their artwork their living — offering an alternative answer to unemployment and job scarcity on CRST, Red Bear explained.
Many of the artist markets held around the state and at major events require a table or vendor fee. Not all of the local artists will have the money to travel to the event and pay the vendor fees.
One way Wakpa Waste Artists can help one another is by sharing a table fee and one artist sells the other artist’s work on consignment at the event, said Red Bear.
For the fair, WWAM artists will set up under their banner in the vacant lot across from LTM at the corner of Main Street and Highway 212 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 30 – September 1, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Artists who want to join the group are welcome and encouraged to come out, said Red Bear. There is no fee for setting up a table, and artists should bring their own tables and chairs.
“We’re trying to get other artists to join us so that we can help each other,” she said.
The artists sell a variety of items, including quilts, beadwork, jewelry, and woodwork. Prices for items begin at $5.00 and go up, so there are items available for any size pocketbook.
The next planned market will be closer to Christmas; meanwhile, Red Bear said she hopes artists come out to meet and enjoy the company of other artists, and the public comes out to meet all of the artists and enjoy and purchase the art they work hard t