More than 200 pieces of art in were featured at this year's Cherokee Holiday Art Show, making it the largest to date, with the most entries and attendance.
Art Show Coordinator Marie Smith said 230 pieces were submitted from 140 artists, including youth. This is the first year for the show to move from the Armory Municipal Center to the new Cherokee Casino. Another unique quality is that the show is normally three days, and this year it's four, with the addition of the chief's dinner held in the same room. Sales began Thursday night.
"The show is not just open to Cherokee; there are a lot of artists," said Smith at the Friday night awards event. "The holiday show is special because of the family and friends who attend. There have already been a lot of sales."
A wood-carved, historically accurate ink well was one of Smith's favorite entries, along with a large justice scale and stained glass seal of the Cherokee Nation.
Many people come to see the art for sale and on display, but no one has more fun than the artists, who look forward to catching up with one another.
Bryan Waytula can make pencil art look like the real person, a technique called "photo realism." This year was his third time to enter, and he earned Best of Show and first place with "Victory Over the River Raisin." Another piece, "Chief's Daughter," received honorable mention.
"I'm still in shock; it's my first time to win Best of Show," said Waytula.
He was checking out a basket entered by his mom, Vivian Cottrell.
"It's a show I've grown up with, and the Heritage Center show," said Waytula." I enjoy coming back and seeing family and friends and bringing my son to the show."
Earlier in the day, they had been to the creek to catch crawdads.
"One of my first memories of the Cherokee Holiday is Betty Scraper Garner receiving the Cherokee National Treasure award," Waytula said."My mom got the same award several years later."
Waytula really enjoys seeing the artwork and taking part in festivities, "and seeing artists I grew up admiring."
Artist Jerry Sutton enjoys the opportunity the show provides.
"I love to talk to other artists about their work and what art they're doing," said Sutton, "it's always inspiring."
The Cherokee Holiday Art Show is one of the best places to see top-tier Cherokee art, said artist Roy Boney Jr.
"There is a variety of art across the board putting a new spin on it, and where we came from is pretty great," Boney said.
Artist Janet Smith entered a painting and Raku pottery piece.
"I didn't win anything, but I sold the painting; it can't get any better," Smith said, adding that she appreciates the variety and uniqueness of the art. "It's all culturally based."
Potter and Cherokee National Treasure Troy Jackson has won Best of Show three years: 2014, 2015 and 2017. This year, he won Judges Choice, first place in Sculpture and second place in Pottery with a bird effigy. He's entered the show every year since it began in 2010.
"I like to put my own twist on it, evolving a traditional artwork into a 21st century form," said Jackson. "I'm a contemporary artist, not a traditionalist."
Jackson said he puts traditional ideas in a contemporary form, using all types of metals and technology.
"Today, to get an answer to any question, you can get on the internet, and we used to have to spend hours in a library researching," Jackson said.
He was talking with Cherokee potter Crystal Hanna and her grandchildren, two of whom had entered pottery pieces in the show - and one won. Kaedry Hanna took second place for her table turtle.