Chilkat and Ravenstail Weaving Return to Yukon


Yukonian and Alaskan Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving students hold their wooden “warp sticks” along with dancers wearing Chilkat and Ravenstail robes (“Diving Whale” Chilkat robe woven by Clarissa Rizal, “Copper Child” woven by Lily Hope & Clarissa Rizal, “Grandmother’s Time” Ravenstail robe woven by Ann Smith —  Kwaanlin Dun Cultural Center in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory – June 2013

Today, as I was doing some research on line about other Native American, Alaskan artists or Ravenstail and Chilkat weavers who may have blogs, I came across this article from Radio Canada International’s website:

Ann Smith and I taught this class nearly two years ago; she taught Ravenstail and I taught Chilkat.  It was a blast.  It feels real good to help inspire the local Yukon weavers to come back to their “woven” selves.  Ann and I met when we were young like most of these gals nearly 30 years ago.  Little did we know then that we would be helping to revive our nearly-lost weaving traditions.  Who woulda known, eh?

3rd Year Attending Heard Museum Indian Art Fair & Market

Israel & Sue Shotridge

Sue and Israel Shotridge enjoy one another; Clarissa Rizal’s “Chilkat Child” won Best of Class at the Heard Museum Juried Art Show, Phoenix, AZ – March 2015

Doing art markets alone is not as much fun, however if you get along with other artists who may want to do the show alongside with you, like Sue and Israel Shotridge, it’s so much more fun!  We had a blast!  This was their first year at the market; this is my third year.  We were two of 600+ Native American artists featured at the Heard Museum Native Art Fair and Market usually held the first weekend in March; this was the Heard’s 57th year.  Sue and I were not quite a year old when they first started this fair!  There were also a few other Northwest Coast Native artists at the Fair, though not many of us:  Dolly Garza, Diane Douglas-Willard, and Zoe Urness.


Shotridges and Rizal combine their “gallery space” in each of their 10′ x 10′ booths at the Heard Museum Indian Art Fair and Market, March 7 & 8 – Phoenix, AZ, 2015

To be a part of the fair, the application process starts each year in July.  To qualify, you must be at least 1/4 Native American with proof of your CIB (Certificate of Indian Blood), there’s a $25 application fee, the largest, 10’x10′ booths are $500, you must provide a resume’, and 10 images of your best work within the last 3 years.  It’s easy for myself because I have established a large body of work over the past 39 years, though for emerging artists, the application process may be intimidating; however, keep your faith in yourself, put your best foot forward, and if you have nothing major to show for yourself, then get on the ball and produce some work before the Heard Museum deadline for application!  Get it together, step up to your plate that’s waiting to “feed” you!  It’s up to you!


Israel Shotridge drums and sings a clan song to an audience in his booth at the Heard Museum Native Art Fair & Market, Phoenix, AZ – March 2015

A select group of the booths at the Heard are 10′ x 10′.  The Shotridges and I took down the canvas wall that divided our booths; we wanted to be able to converse and especially have more light AND give buyers and opportunity to “step into our gallery.”  —-  These shows can be a lot of work.  It took three hours to set up my simple booth below.  It took three hours for the Shotridges to do the same.  Yet there is a simple pleasure in the accomplishment of making our space look inviting, and in our opinion, it really is like setting up a temporary outdoor “gallery.”


Clarissa Rizal’s “little gallery” art booth at the Heard Museum Native Art Fair & Market, Phoenix, AZ – March 2015

Outside of winning ribbons and with the intent you will sell some work to help offset not only your costs but pay some of your bills for the next few months, one of the best parts (for me) about doing shows are the variety of people we meet from all walks of life and the invites to other shows and events, or invites to artist retreats or residencies, and not to mention the up-and-coming artists who look to you for guidance and advice.  Generally speaking, I think people like to be needed; it gives us another sense of self-worth!


Recent glassblown pieces by Tlingit glassblower Preston Singletary at his annual art show held the same week as the Heard Art Market, at the Blue Rain Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ


Jeremy Frey won Best of Show for his magnificent basket, Heard Museum Juried Art Show, March 2015


Carver Israel Shotridge and Glassblower Preston Singletary


Sue Shotridge takes a photo of the award-winning bentwood box carved by her husband, Israel Shotridge — Heard Museum Juried Art Show and Market – March 2015


Clarissa Rizal and Sue Shotridge sport their cedar bark hats woven by Haida artist Merle Anderson – March 2015


Beadwork close-up by beadwork artist Marcus Amerman – (I am partial to the Chilkat emblem in dead center!); Heard Museum Juried Art Show & Market, March 2015


Marcus Amerman’s beaded “Smithsonian” piece at the Heard Museum Native Art Fair Juried Art Show, Phoenix, AZ – March 2015


Adrian Wall’s sculptures in blown glass and stone at the Heard Museum Native Art Fair & Market, Phoenix, AZ – March 2015

Have You Seen The “Chilkat Mini-Coopers?”


Hand-painted mini-coops in Chilkat yellow and Indian red! by Clarissa Rizal

Let’s go for a quick road-trip in one of these “Chilkat Mobiles” zipping through the Redwood Forests and out across Canyonlands and Arches National Monuments sliding into Sedona across the Mohave dessert and up towards the Rocky Mountains!  Yep, zippidity do dah at your fingertips in the miniatures of miniatures!

Clarissa’s Tentative Schedule for the Arts 2015


“Chilkat Child” headdress and collar – trimmed with sea otter fur and 22. bullet shells – designed and handwoven by Clarissa Rizal

I am currently gearing up for a full year of travel to art shows, cultural center openings,  and of course visiting my kids and grandkids along the way!  Here’s my 2015 show schedule (subject to change):

1).  Heard Museum Indian Art Market and Fair, Phoenix, AZ – March 5-8th – Booth #D45

2).  Grand Opening of Soboleff Cultural Center, Juneau, AK – May 15

3).  Teslin’s “KusTeYea” Celebration, Teslin, Yukon, July 24-26

4).  Santa Fe Indian Market, Santa Fe, New Mexico, August 21-23

5). Haskell Institute Native Art Market, Lawrence, KS , September 12-13

6).  Cherokee Art Market, Tulsa, OK, October 9-11

7)  Autry Native American Art Market, Los Angeles, CA  November 7-8

8).  NMAI (National Museum of the American Indian) Holiday Art Market, NYC, December 5-6


Letting Go of My “Chilkat Mobile”


Back side of my 1991 Toyota Corolla — Clarissa calls it her “Chilkat Mobile” — license plate “CNH 794″ She considers these letters and numbers “good…!”

My “Chilkat Mobile” is originally from Juneau, Alaska.  In December I put the car on the ferry for a 3-day sail to the port of Bellingham, Washington State.  From Bellingham, I drove down to the mountains above Los Angelos, then across to Scottsdale and up to Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  I drove through all kinds of storms, wind, rain, sleet, snow and finally sunshine!  This car can make it up the infamous Wolf Creek Pass to Denver no problem.  Though remember because it is a 4-cylinder, you have to drive in 2nd gear up the mountain passes.


Front of Clarissa’s “Chilkat Mobile”

“Chilkat”  was owned by an elderly blonde woman who is now 92.  22 years ago, she and her husband bought two of these cars, a his and her pair:   one for her, one for him.  The cars were originally red, but they had both custom painted yellow.  A little over a year ago, they both went into an elder-care home and so they sold both of their beloved machines.   They took VERY GOOD CARE of these cars; in fact, they each had their own garage built especially for them; no kidding!  Except for a few tiny nicks here and there from tiny rocks on the drive down here, the body is straight, no dents and no rust anywhere except for a small strip across the bottom part of the window on the back hatch door; I remedied that situation by placing yellow duck tape (the exact color of the car!) across the line of rust.

I bought the “her” car.  Peggy  was retired when she bought the car and had no children or grand-children, she mainly used the car to go do errands and such in the remote town of Juneau which has about 70 total miles of road as the town is land-locked.  The car most likely did not ever go more than 60 miles an hour, if that, until of course, I drove it on the freeways from Bellingham — the car hums at 75 no problem with a load.   When I drove down from Bellingham, I had the car packed with two suitcases, my paintings and prints and weaving looms.  It probably hasn’t had any kind of load like that before.


On the car deck of the “MV Malaspina” ferry from Juneau, Alaska to Bellingham, Washington, then the long drive down to Colorado…!

Both cars were well maintained partially due to the fact that the husband was a boat and car mechanic as well as an inventor and both he and his wife were meticulous about everything they owned.   I knew them personally.  I grew up with them.  They talked me into buying this car because they wanted me to have it because they knew I liked older cars and they knew I took care of my things.  They also knew I needed a car to teach my classes up in Yukon Territory!   For a 22-year old car, the interior is clean, barely worn anywhere because the car was mainly used by one person, so the grey upholstery is in great shape, no tears, no stains, no worn spots – there is only one worn spot on the carpet.   I have my own maintenance records for a little over a year I’ve owned it since, I’ve had the oil changed three times; totally serviced and new rear brakes before I jumped the ferry with the car.  I haven’t had to do anything major.  It handles snow real well, hugs the road like a roadster; it’s a sweet thing!

As you can tell, I am proud of my “Chilkat Mobile”.  I would not have sold it if it weren’t my need for a travel van.  I need something larger because I am an artist who travels to a variety of shows “west of the Mississippi!”  I need to carry all my art plus the display units.  After at least 10 inquiries from prospective buyers from around the country in just a couple of days on the Craigslist market, “Chilkat” is now living in Taos, New Mexico with her new owner.  I wish her a longer and more prosperous life; she served me well and in turn I wish her the best!

Handling a Large Box for the Airlines


Duck tape the padded “handles” of the loose straps

When I travel back and forth by plane from Colorado to Alaska, or vice versa, I have never traveled light.  I am always loaded with my work, supplies, fish, berries, etc.  Many years ago, my father showed me this trick-of-the-loaded-traveler-trade.

Nowadays, with “homeland security” and all, wrapping our boxes with rope is futile; they just cut the rope off, cut open your box, and inspect it.  I don’t want to waste my rope.  But how do we still have our handles and use them too?

Instead of tightly wrapping your box, just make two loose-fitting straps with rope, duck tape the ends with extra tape wrapped around as show in photo.  Remove the loose straps before you check your box into baggage; place your straps inside your suitcase pocket, or your carry-on.  Bring them out when you arrive at your destination’s baggage claim, slip them back around your box, and get moving!


Easy to lift and maneuver heavy 3′ x 4′ box

I am pushing 60 and I weight 125 pounds.  With this method I can easily maneuver a 60 pound bulky box!  Thanks Dad!

At the Evergreen Longhouse Holiday Market


Clarissa’s booth at the Evergreen Longhouse in Olympia, features similar sale items as the Alaska-Juneau Public Market during Thanksgiving weekend in Juneau, Alaska

The Evergreen Longhouse Holiday Art Market is generally held for two days the 2nd weekend in December in Olympia, WA.  Sue Shotridge and I decided to do one day, Saturday, December 13th.  A couple of weeks prior we were both at the Alaska-Juneau Public Market and we sold fairly well, though of course we would have enjoyed selling more!  We knew we would most likely not sell as much at this venue since it was a lot smaller, however, there was more of a Native customer base since all the vendors were Native Americans from the area.


It’s always the female customers who enjoy the painted masks

It’s always interesting to see what most folks are interested in; you just never know until you put it out there.  Most were unawares of the Chilkat and Ravenstail weavings on the young  mannequins.  To my surprise, I cannot say anyone even remarked or paid attention to the weavings – I guess we were too far south (even as close as Olympia is to Alaskan shores!).


Sue and Israel Shotridges booth next to Clarissa’s at the Longhouse Holiday Art Market


Back in the Recording Studio

Ku.eex’s vocalists: Nahaan, Clarissa Rizal, Om Jahari, Gene Tagaban, and Preston Singletary – December 2014


Gene Tagaban, Om Jahari, Hahaan


In the Engineers room with Randall Dunn, Preston Singletary, Gene Tagaban and Nahaan


Randall, the sound engineer, makes it all sound soooo gooooood!  All recordings are done at Avast(!) Sound Studios, Seattle, Washington

Our names and personalities are as individually artistic as our band name “Khu.eex” which means “potlatch” in Tlingit.     Preston called us together for the past three days to record the vocals with the already-recorded instrumentation.  We worked on the vocals in this band to sound like a chorus with two and three-part harmonies of many, many voices as if there is a large group of singers as we do in our traditional songs and dances.  In the olden days, our songs were always sung with harmonies; we want to inspire our traditional dance groups to bring this element back – I feel “Khu.eex” can be a powerful venue to help this intent.


Singer extraordinaire: Om Jahari

Om is the professional vocalist; the rest of us have sung (mainly our traditional songs) but we are not considered professional singers.  However, having Om on board helped “round us out!”  This is the first time the five of us have sung and recorded together; it was FUN!


Our fearless leader: Preston Singletary

I don’t know if Preston has been a prominent singer with all the bands he has been in over the years as a musician.  Khu.eex is his venue to begin to bring out his best voice.  Khu.eex is one of his longest-time, biggest dream coming true!  We who he has called together, are fortunate to share his dream.

Read my other posted entries about our band at:

Presentation at P.A.M.


Clarissa begins her presentation on the design and weaving of her latest Chilkat robe “Resilience” to the members of the Native American Arts Council at the Portland Art Museum

Many, many years ago, if you asked me to get in front of other people and talk about whatever, no matter what size the audience, and no matter if the speech would be in front of my family and relatives, I would freak out.  No one nowadays,  believes me when I tell them of my once-upon-a-time fear and shyness; — especially not those who were at any of my four presentations at the Portland Art Museum this past weekend of December 5th through the 8th, in Portland, Oregon.


Clarissa explains the meaning of every design element in the robe

Audience feedback tells me that I am a fantastic storyteller at heart, a natural-born comedian, an up-and-coming philanthropist,  a content and yet passionate, visual artist.  Interesting feedback…things I don’t really define as me though obviously those outside of me experience me on the contrary of what me believes about me.  I guess I APPEAR to others  to be those things I have yet to add to my list of how I define myself.  My personal experience of myself is passion and inspiration.  I feel passionate about my work; in fact I am inspired by my own work.  My latest Chilkat robe which is now in the permanent collection of the Portland Art Museum was, and continues to be, an inspiration.


Clarissa tells another tale about the making of “Resilience”

With every art piece I design and create, no matter what medium, I strive to “out-do” the last piece of that particular medium.  I compete with myself; I have experienced this is where true, fulfilling competition lay.

Thank you to all of you I met during my 4-day stay in Portland, especially the members of the Native American Arts Council at P.A.M.  Thank you to Deana Dartt who worked hard on acquiring this robe for PAM’s permanent collection.  And thank you to Beverly Terry who sponsored the making of the “Resilience” Chilkat robe!

You may see photos  and read about the design description of my latest Chilkat robe “Resilience” at these blog entries:


Three Days Off…On the Ferry


Boarding the “MV Malaspina” of the Alaska Marine Highway, in Juneau, Alaska

Heading south for the Winter, I took my “Chilkat Mobile” filled with most of my artwork of prints, greeting cards, weavings, and supplies.  I have a full month ahead of me; once I arrive in Bellingham, Washington, on Friday, December 5th, I drive a bee line straight down to Portland, Oregon for my presentation at the Portland Art Museum.  I sure miss my parents; they would love to be on board with me.  Alas, I travel with me, myself and I.


Clarissa’s 1992 Toyota Corolla “Chilkat Mobile” – one of a pair of “His and Her” vehicles, once owned by Peggy Garrison – the other one still lives in Juneau, once owned by Peggy’s husband, Dick Garrison

After 4 days in Portland (I have another presentation at P.A.M. on Monday, December 8th), I drive North to Seattle for another recording session with “Ku.eex”, and then afterwards….well… just keep an eye to this blog because I will post my travels as I go along…


Leaving Ketchikan, Alaska–notice the Chilkat robe reflected in the window – leaving Chilkat country!

We sailed three full days from Juneau, Alaska to Bellingham, Washington.  These three days I relished because they were my first three days off I have had all year!  Seriously, I have had one deadline after another and then some for an entire year; it’s my time for just me now.  oh boy!   My cell phone rarely had service, so no texting either.  I wasn’t schlepping stuff here and there, no packing stuff in and packing stuff out.  I didn’t have to do any errands.  No Wi-Fi so no emailing or responding to emails; no bookkeeping, no researching on line for anything!  I just sat back and watched the scenery go by, quietly, peacefully, and no one knocking at the door!


Playing every “Rain” song on the ukelele Clarissa can think of, to the tune of leaving “Rain Country…”

I played ukelele every day.  I took a shower twice a day.  I had breakfast and lunch (from my cooler) in my room.  I drew every day.  I wrote every day.  I stretched and danced every day.   I stared out the window doing nothing sometimes for at least a  couple of hours every day.  Golly, it was so much fun doing the basics!


There were no more 2-berth staterooms, so Clarissa settled for a 4-berth — Clarissa spread out all her work on each berth: just like her studio, Clarissa had one berth for weaving, one for drawing, one for music, one for her “office”…luxury, simplicity, …spoiled rotten!

For those folks who have never been to Alaska, I always recommend that they travel by way of the ferry system out of Bellingham, WA or Prince Rupert, B.C.  It’s a great way to introduce one’s self out of the culture of the “Lower 48″ into our unique culture in Alaska.  It’s also a great way for those of us from Alaska to ease our way to the “Lower 48″ without too much culture shock.


Drawing a “seaweed” pattern for Chilkat weaving, while ocean-bound: the view changes every second…!