MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

August 15, 2010

Group wants to promote Tahlequah as the place for Native American art

Cherokee potter Jane Osti says Tahlequah may become known as the place to go to buy Native American art.

Osti, 65, who has been named a Cherokee National Treasure, said local artists travel too much to make a living.

“I know that I and most of the other artists around here have had to go all around the country,” she said. “My first 18 years, all of my sales were out of state.”

She agrees with an idea suggested by Cherokee Nation Community Tourism Event Coordinator Donna Tinnin. The tourism group wants to promote Tahlequah as an art destination.

“That would be great,” Osti said. “It’s something that will take a while. There has already been less traveling now that the casinos are buying our art.”

Born and raised in Oklahoma, Osti first took art classes at a community college in San Francisco, Calif., when she was young. She now holds private lessons for budding artists in her Tahlequah studio. It’s filled with her work and many pieces of other Native Americans who she promotes.

“When I came back, I studied under Anna Mitchell; the matriarch of Cherokee potters,” she said. “All the work I do now is inspired by my ancestors. I’m descended from the Mound People in the southeast American homelands (of the Cherokees),” she said. “Some of my pieces are like the old style, but most get changed as I work on them.”

Tinnin said that one day Tahlequah will become a well-known destination for collectors seeking art in the same way that Taos, N.M., has become a household word.

She said talking to people when she travels gave her the idea of making Tahlequah famous for its local talent.

“What I have found in the last two years is a yearning for Native American art,” she said. “We want our professional artists let collectors and buyers come here to them. It will also be a great location for novice artists to create and sell.”

Reasons for creating more tourism in Tahlequah go beyond economic considerations.

“At the same time, we will be continuing the mentoring and creating that is a part of the Cherokee tradition of art,” she said.

Tinnin added that she plans to coordinate with local galleries so they are open when visitors arrive in town.

Reach Keith Purtell at 684-2925 or kpurtell @muskogeephoenix.com.

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