2019 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program Master Artists’ Gathering

Iris Teeuwen (photos and text) and Christal Snyder (text and editor)

Top starting from the left: Steve McKay, Marjan Anvari, Mic Crenshaw, Mark Ross, Brian Hart, Hossein Salahi, Antonio Huerta. Bottom Starting from the left: Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim, Kelli Palmer, Esther Stutzman, Roberta Kirk, Marge Kalama, Azar Salehi, Maria de Jesus Gonzalez Laguna. Present at the gathering, but not photographed here: Charlotte Roderique, Wanda Johnson, Sandra Teeman


Oregon Folklife Network staff had the privilege of spending 2 days at Bend’s High Desert Museum at a professional development gathering with 17 of Oregon’s master traditional artists. Funding from the NEA and the Oregon Arts Commission and a generous partnership with the High Desert Museum provided support to invite our Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program’s (TAAP) master artists (2011-2019) for peer-to-peer mentoring and professional development. On April 27-28, 2019, 17 of 32 master artists came together for networking, panel discussions, performances and demonstrations. As the artists noted, “It was wonderful to have this opportunity to get to know each other.” The gathering provided a “fantastic opportunity to connect – all of it was useful.”

Folk & Traditional Art Displays: The Gathering began with introductions. Several artists shared their pieces with the group.

Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim (center) shows her traditional Palestinian embroidery to Persian tazhib artist, Marjan Anvari (right). Burns Paiute moccasin maker and tradition keeper Charlotte Roderique (left) chats to another artist.

Iranian traditional artist and conservator Marjan Anvari specializes in tazhib, a form of traditional manuscript illumination that dates back to 224 A.D. Because of its ubiquitous presence in Iran’s historical architecture, visual arts, and craftsmanship, tazhib has become a symbol of nationality and culture. Anvari has more than 15 years of experience working on manuscripts, books, and art on paper and is particularly dedicated to using her talents to educate children and adults. This particular piece, Anvari explained, is a runner that she decorated with “a combination of traditional Persian fabric (Termeh) and hand-painted Persian illumination (tazhib).” The motif is called shamseh (sun).

Cornhusk weaver Kelli Palmer (Warm Springs) uses dried cornhusk, hemp, yarn, and buckskin (brain-tanned and smoked deer hide) to make her traditional baskets. Palmer employs a double-twining technique to create traditional woven hats and sally bags or wapus (flat baskets); women wear the bags around their waists and use them to collect roots that they later dry and prepare for eating.

Marjorie Kalama (Warm Springs) makes traditional loomed beadwork. Her method of two-needled tack-down beading requires the simultaneous use of two needles with different sized threads. She adorns dresses, fans, and more with her intricately shaded designs. Kalama has won six awards for her beadwork at tribal member art shows.

H’Klumaiyat-Roberta Kirk (Wasco) is a traditional beadworker and regalia maker. Kirk uses shells and beadwork to embellishes traditional clothing that she designs and makes for ceremonies and pow-wows. Kirk also gathers traditional foods for the Simnasho Longhouse in Warm Springs and has consulted for several museums, including the Smithsonian, on Native American artifacts.

Ragalia makers Marge Kalama (Warm Springs) and Charlotte Roderique (Burns Paiute) admire Kelli Palmer’s traditional baskets.

Buckaroo and traditional saddle maker Steve McKay (right) shows Marge Kalama (left) one of his intricately braided rawhide lariats. McKay learned to tool saddles in the 1980s from fellow traditional artist Len Babb II; other Oregon buckaroos consider him the “go-to” guy for functional, well-made gear.

Antonio Huerta (Mexican charro/cowboy) examines one of Steve McKay’s braided rawhide ropes.

Antonio Huerta performs traditional charrería (cowboy rope work), an skill used to work cattle and in rodeo competitions.


Needs Assessment and Professional Development: OFN asked artists to let us know about areas in which they needed help as well as where they had strengths and could help others. Categories included promotions, finding gigs, business and finance, and expanding opportunities.

Tazhib (illumination and calligraphy) artist Marjan Anvari (Persian) is interested in assistance with online promotion.

Roberta Kirk and Maria de Jesus Gonzalez Laguna add their thoughts for a session on Looking Back/Looking Forward or the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program.

Antonio Huerta, who also does outreach for the UO Division of Undergraduate Studies, shares his ideas with fellow artists.

Charlotte Roderique (left), Wanda Johnson (center), and Sandra Teeman (right) are members of the Burns Paiute Tribe and skilled moccasin makers who have taught this traditional art to Burns Paiute children As members of the tribe’s Cultural Advisory Committee, these culture keepers have dedicated their time and effort to sustaining their heritage.

Charlotte Roderique takes her turn to talk with the group.

Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim (standing), a 2018 National Heritage Fellow, learned traditional Palestinian embroidery the stories behind the designs from her mother and grandmother.

Emily West Hartlerode (standing), OFN Associate Director, facilitates a session about exploring resources that OFN and artists can share to support one other.

Michelle Seiler-Godfrey, Program Development Manager at the High Desert Museum, spoke to artists about marketing their arts and expanding their networks.


Performances: On Saturday evening everyone gathered at McMenamins Old St. Francis School to socialize and share their traditional arts.

First up to perform was old time musician Mark Ross, whose repertoire of over nearly 500 songs runs the gamut of American roots music, includes ballads, train songs, blues, and western swing.

Traditional Irish singer Brian Ó hAirt explores the Irish experience from the profane to the conventional through music. The continuing significance of Irish ballads and folk songs is evidenced by its popularity at any Irish gathering, whether at homes, in pubs or bars, and for community celebrations.

Master santoor player Hossein Salehi began his musical career at seven when he started learning this ancient traditional art form from his father, Maestro Abbas Salehi. The instrument is a trapezoid-shaped hammered dulcimer with 72 strings strung over small adjustable bridges; this makes it possible for the santoor, Iran’s national instrument, the capacity to produce a range of three octaves. This musical tradition is over 1100 years old.

Azar Salehi is an Persian storyteller who also recites traditional poetry. Salehi has partnered with Portland State University and others in her mission to connect members of the Iranian diaspora to their cultural roots.

MC Michael “Mic” Crenshaw is a poetry slam champion and a respected hip hop artist around the Northwest and in Africa. A former member of the Portland-based group Hungry Mob, Crenshaw currently acts as Political Director for the Hip Hop Congress and the Lead U.S. Organizer for the Afrikan Hip Hop Caravan. Crenshaw recently received one of four inaugural 2019-21 Fields Artist’s Fellowships from the Oregon Community Foundation in partnership with Oregon Humanities.

Traditional Coos and Kalapuya storyteller Esther Stutzman is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz and a member of the Northwest Indian Storyteller’s Association. Stutzman was the winner of the 2017 Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement.

At the conclusion to the TAAP Master Artist Gathering, Mexican Folkloríco dancer and teacher Maria de Jesus Gonzalez Laguna and Antonio Huerta collaborated on a performance that combined charrería with a traditional folklórico dance. Each of Mexico’s states has a set of traditional dances that feature specific expression, technique, dress, and accessories.

Echoing everyone’s sentiments, one of the artists commented, “the performances [and folk art displays were] all beautiful, and we will remember that for a long time.


In Memoriam: Ricarda McCleary Cause

In Memoriam,

 Ricarda McCleary Cause

December 22, 2016

Ricarda McCleary Cause in her workshop.

We recently learned of Ricarda McCleary Cause’s passing. Our condolences go out to her family and friends. Cause was a world class silversmith whose lifetime of work has been featured in books, on public television, and in western art galleries. She sold her pieces at the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering and the Western Folklife Center has featured her work. As a child who grew up on a ranch in Winnemucca, Nevada, Cause admired her father’s workshop and “loved being out there with all the tools.” Inspired by her mother’s love of silver jewelry, Cause started with silver belt buckles. She later learned how to make silver bits and spurs and how to engrave. Later making more jewelry than bits and spurs, she continued to make exquisitely crafted belt buckles, bracelets, and concho belts. Cause made her home in Lakeview where she married, reared a daughter, and later taught silversmithing to her son-in-law, Jimmy van Bell. Cause continued to collect tools for her well-appointed home workshop. Ricarda McCleary Cause’s silverwork had both local and international renown.

More on her life and work.









Oregon Legends & Lore Marker Program

The Oregon Folklife Network has partnered with the William G. Pomeroy Foundation® on their Legends & Lore® Marker Program. Established by the Pomeroy Foundation in 2015, Legends & Lore promotes cultural heritage by placing markers at sites associated with local traditional culture (for example: folklore, customs, legends, beliefs, traditional art, music and dance) in communities across the United States. Stories from Oregon’s rich folklife heritage will be featured on roadside markers at sites across the state thanks to a partnership between the Oregon Folklife Network and the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.

OFN will serve as a grant evaluator for the Pomeroy Foundation’s expanding national Legends & Lore Marker Grant Program, helping to put Oregon folklife in the spotlight. OFN will be responsible for reviewing applications as well as confirming the legitimacy and accuracy of folklore and legends that applicants in Oregon intend to commemorate on a marker.

How to Propose an Oregon Legends & Lore® Marker:

Go to OFN’s Legends & Lore page and click on the application hotlink. Grants are available to 501(c)(3) organizations, nonprofit academic institutions and municipalities in Oregon. The Foundation’s grants cover the entire cost of a marker, pole and shipping. See above for a sample sign featured for the Legends & Lore Marker Grant Program.

Questions? Contact Riki Saltzman riki@uoregon.edu or Emily West Hartlerode eafanado@uoregon.edu or call 541-346-3820.

2019 Tradition Keepers Folklife Festival, Four Rivers Cultural Center, June 29, 2019

OFN is proud to partner once again with Four Rivers Cultural Center for the 2nd annual Tradition Keepers Folklife Festival in Ontario, Oregon, June 29, 2019, 10 am – 5 pm. Not only is Four Rivers one of OFN’s partners for Culture Fest 2019, but the organization was also the recipient of the Museum of Natural and Cultural History’s 2019 Oregon Stewardship Award for the center’s Tradition Keepers Folklife Festival, a daylong public celebration of traditional arts and artists in eastern Oregon.


New Staff: Christal Snyder

Christal Snyder is a first-year M.A. student in Folklore and Public Culture. She obtained her B.A. in Anthropology from California State University, Fullerton where she served as president of the Anthropology Student Association and treasurer of the Lambda Alpha National Anthropology Honor Society, Chapter ETA. Through involvement with student organizations, she became interested in developing and implementing cultural programming. Her research interests lie in folk religious beliefs and rituals and the revitalization of such practices. By analyzing the perpetuation of folklore archetypes and their patrons, she seeks understanding of modern alternative spiritualities.

As an archivist at the Randall V. Mills Archives of Northwest Folklore, she served as an editor for Cooking with Folklore, accessioned and processed newly acquired materials, and assisted in the curation of an exhibit. Her work at OFN includes coordinating the newsletter, drafting folk arts award nominations, facilitating staff meetings, and assisting in the curation of exhibits. Outside of academia, Christal enjoys immersing herself in a good story, adventuring into nature, and discovering new documentaries.

Culture Fest 2019!

Culture Fest partnerships support performances, demonstrations and presentations about Oregon’s living cultural heritage and feature traditional artists who are part of the Oregon Culture Keepers Roster, which provides a curated listing of over 200 folk artists for presenting organizations to work with in planning their programs.

Culture Fest 2019 brings collaborative public programs with diverse culture keepers to six local arts, culture, and heritage organizations around the state in Ontario, Portland, La Grande, Baker City and McMinnville. Completed Culture Fest partnerships include Portland’s 5th Annual New Year in the Park and the McMinnville Library’s El Día de los Niños Fiesta.

On April 27, 2019, OFN partnered with the Hmong American Community of Oregon (Portland) for the 5th Annual New Year in the Park festival. It took place at Glenhaven Park, in Northeast Portland and featured several traditional dance groups from the Thai, Lao, Hmong, and Cambodian communities.

On May 4, 2019, McMinnville Public Library presented Latino and other folk and traditional artists for El Día de los Niños Fiesta. This collaboration featured OFN’s rostered artists Grupo Condor (traditional Latin American music), Sushmita Poddar (Asian Indian henna), and Monica Moreno (Mexican piñatas, sugar skulls).

The next four event partnerships are with Crossroads Carnegie, Art Center East, Four Rivers Cultural Center, and Andisheh and take place June-August, 2019.

Crossroads Carnegie (Baker City) presents

  • June 22, 2019: “Barrel and Vessel: The Art of Aging Wine,” with traditional cooper (barrel maker) Rick DeFerrari.

Art Center East (La Grande) presents

  • June 26, 2019, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.: La Grande Farmers Market morning story time and demonstration of wool spinning, and lunch-time talk with sheep rancher Carol Etchemendy.
  • July 12, 2019, 7:30-8:30 pm: a Master Class with Guinean master drummer Alseny Yansane.
  • July 13, 2019, 10:30-11:45 am: La Grande Farmers Market a public performance and workshop with Guinean master drummer Alseny Yansane.

Four Rivers Cultural Center (Ontario) presents

  • June 29, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., 2nd annual Tradition Keepers Folklife Festival, a day-long folklife festival celebrating the diverse range of traditional arts and culture in the Four Rivers area. Come experience a variety of traditional artists demonstrating or performing cowboy poetry, silversmithing, rawhide braiding, Paiute basketry, Paiute Pow Wow dancing, Japanese Taiko drumming, traditional Japanese Mochi making, and much, much more, including a visit from National Heritage Fellow Eva Castellanoz.

Andisheh Center for Iranian Cultural Heritage (Portland), presents

  • August 3, 2019, 1:00 – 6:00 pm, Portland State University, an afternoon of traditional visual art, music, and dance workshops with Iranian local artists. Leading these free workshops will be santoor player Hossein Salehi, tazhib (illumination and calligraphy) artist Marjan Anvari, and Oak Leaf with Hamid Habibi (tombak/hand drum) and Yasi Mehdian (daf/lute); there will also be a session on traditional Kurdish dance. The intention of this event is to foster community connection and pride, and to drive awareness and education about the diverse cultures and traditions in our neighborhood.

Funding for Culture Fest comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon Arts Commission and the Oregon Historical Society. Their support helps OFN partner with local organizations to support folk and traditional artists to share their artistry and knowledge with others.

Culture Fest partnerships support performances, demonstrations and presentations about Oregon’s living cultural heritage and feature traditional artists who are part of the Oregon Culture Keepers Roster, which provides a curated listing of over 200 folk artists for presenting organizations to work with in planning their programs.