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S’Klallam art in New Orleans spotlight
LITTLE BOSTON — Local Native artists will tell their ancestral stories through words and artwork at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, beginning April 26.
Jimmy Price, a Port Gamble S’Klallam artist, and Elaine Grinnell, an elder from Jamestown S’Klallam, are in the Big Easy for the two-week festival. The New Orleans Times-Picayune calls the festival the city’s “premier craft show.”
The festival is a celebration of the area’s unique culture, a mix of African-American, Cajun, Creole, French and Native American. This year, the Folklife Village includes a special exhibit on Native America, and Price and Grinnell will give live demonstrations of Northwest Native art. Price will carve and paint, while Grinnell will showcase her drums and tell traditional stories.
In the last few months, Price made a small version of a Coast Salish house post — a carving six feet tall and six inches wide — to bring with him as an example, and he will carve a new post as his demonstration.
Price said he’s excited about “the atmosphere down there, and actually sharing my art.” Price’s art has been featured in local galleries and at Peninsula College in Port Angeles.
“It felt good to be able to [get] my art out there,” he said.
The small house post he carved was a small area to work with, but that lent itself to more intricate work, he said.
“[Festival-goers] won’t know much, but as you demonstrate it they’ll see how art is brought to life, [and] see the different tools [and paints] we use,” Price said.
Price is looking forward to working with Grinnell, whom he hasn’t worked with before. Grinnell contacted him, looking for a carver to join her at the festival.
The cultural village will also have artisans from Louisiana Tribes, such as Coushatta, Chitimacha, United Houma Nation and the Louisiana Band of Choctaw. Price said this is the first he’s heard of a Pacific Northwest Tribal presence at the festival.
The festival is known for its music — famous headliners, such as Willie Nelson & Family, B.B. King and Billy Joel; as well as local musicians playing blues, R&B, gospel, Cajun, jazz and more. The festival plays the “indigenous music of New Orleans and Louisiana,” according to the festival’s website (www.nojazzfest.com).