Honoring first artists

Annies celebrate Native Californian culture

After honoring modern-day Chico artists for many years, the Annies Arts Awards event for the first time is turning attention to the original local artists, the Native Californians of this area.

Presented by Friends of the Arts­Butte County, the 11th-annual Annies ceremony is entitled “Native American Arts & Culture in Butte County.” It happens this Sunday, April 14, beginning at 6 p.m. in the sterling confines of the Sierra Nevada Brewery’s new Big Room on E. 20th Street.

Organizer Debra Lucero Austin spent five years living in Seattle and was impressed by how integrated Native American cultural values and art were within that community. She noted that children there were raised to participate in a cultural exchange through field trips and study that led to deeper appreciation and understanding."I think people who come to this show are going to find that a lot of the rich cultural heritage around us is hidden,” Austin said. “I’d really like to see more of that kind of [cultural exchange] happen, and if this can be a start, that’d be great.”

The night should be quite a treat. It includes, among several events, the rare Maidu clapstick performance, wherein over 120 clapsticks will be given to audience members so they can participate, a “rare honor,” Austin points out. In another exclusive, Bidwell Mansion plans to curate an exhibit of its rare baskets (one of the best collections in California) on the mezzanine floor at Sierra Nevada. Historic photographs are also being provided courtesy of the Dorothy Hill collection and Chico State.

“It’s a huge process to get these museum items, especially for a show not in a museum setting. It practically takes an act of Congress,” Austin said. “But my whole point—for people who think this is not a traditional local-awards show—is that the concept is to honor the original artists, which has never been done … I see this as a fulfillment of the spirit of the Annies.”

Tickets are available at Chico and Oroville chambers of commerce for $18, or you can call 228-0771 for more information.

Native American art preview, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails; silent auction (Native American arts and crafts); "Friends" lithographs by local artist Sal Casa (available for purchase)Honoring of Native American contributions to arts and culture in Butte County; special honor of Berry Creek Maidu Indian artist Frank Day; recognition of Ishi; full-regalia dancers from Nevada and Ontario, Canada; recognition of first dancers, singers, painters (in conjunction with CSU, Chico and the Dorothy Hill Collection); Maidu dancers featuring Frank LaPena, native artist and dancer; Mechoopda and Maidu today; Maidu clapstick performance; introduction of the Ishi Wilderness Project and landscape photographer Kenneth Parker.