To help artists access distribution channels outside of the reservation, First Peoples Fund launched the Rolling Rez mobile art unit, a traveling art space, business education center, and mobile bank. It offers classes, workshops, and training to help artists get their work seen and sold outside of the reservation, including at the Santa Fe Indian Art Market, described by Rolling Rez’s director Bryan Parker as “the Oscars or Super Bowl of Indian art markets.”
Parker said one weekend at the art fair can generate a year’s worth of sales for some artists, and provide additional opportunities such as encounters with curators and museum staff, gallery owners, and collectors. Rolling Rez helps to get artists to the actual event, and manage expenses for the entry fee, which ranges from $400 to $700 depending on how the size of the booth.
Artists can “go there unknown and leave with a lot of opportunities that will pay off down the line,” Parker said.
One foundational part of helping Native American artists expand their markets is educating consumers and gatekeepers about what they’re seeing or buying. Ahead of this year’s Santa Fe Indian Market, the new female-run, Philadelphia-based nonprofit We Are the Seeds has been holding small-scale fine and contemporary art events and workshops in areas throughout the U.S. with a high Native American population, to educate non-Native Americans about the breadth and depth of Native American artistic and craft practices, such as a female-run open mic in Santa Fe that highlighted the oral tradition of different tribes.