1. Travel

Southwest Indian Art Fair in Tucson, Arizona


Southwest Native American Art Festival in Tucson

Collector purchases a beautiful corn-decorated pottery piece from Caroline Carpio, Tiwa native of Isleta Pueblo

©Elizabeth R. Rose

About the Southwest Indian Art Fair:

Note: Due to this year’s first round of cuts to its annual state budget allotment, Arizona State Museum (ASM) has canceled its annual Southwest Indian Art Fair (SWIAF) for 2010. It has been relocated for 2010 only to the Desert Diamond Casino south of Tucson..

The Southwest Indian Art Fair, usually located at the Arizona State Museum on the University of Arizona campus, draws over 200 juried Native American artists. The Fair runs Saturday and Sunday, annually in February (2010 in March). The Southwest Indian Art Fair is a high quality, excellent show.

Location and Parking:

Address: 1013 E. University Boulevard, Tucson, Arizona Map
Arizona State Museum is located in two historic buildings on the University of Arizona campus, just east of the main gate at University Boulevard and Park Avenue in Tucson.

From the I-10 frontage road take Speedway Blvd. east to Euclid Ave. Turn south on Euclid. Convenient parking is available just one block from the museum at Tyndall and Second (uncovered lot). Additional parking is available Euclid and Second (covered garage) or Tyndall and Fourth (covered garage). There is a small fee for parking on weekdays. Parking is free on weekends.


The festival is set up on the tree shaded grounds in front of the museum. There are usually two large tents for the artists and a few additional tents for educational displays and food. The campus is a beautiful setting for this event and adds to the enjoyment.

What You WIll See:

Tables, upon tables of excellent Indian-made jewelry, katsinas, beadwork, pottery, paintings and even more. See what innovative ways the artists found to integrate the Native American culture into their art.

Enjoy the entertainment which includes music, dance and storytelling throughout the day. When you are hungry, head for a food booth and pick up an Indian Taco, sweet frybread or soft drink. There are also restaurants surrounding the campus area.

In the educational tents you can learn more about weaving and basket making.

For Children:

Children will enjoy the event but smaller children should be carefully supervised around the artists' booths and tables. They can learn how to spin and weave and how to make baskets. They'll enjoy the colorful Indian dancers and listen to the Native storytellers.

Hint for Collectors:

Museum members entered the grounds early on Saturday. It was soon clear that collectors purchased prize pieces very early in the day. Go first thing Saturday morning and when you see a piece you would like to have, purchase it on the spot.

Why You Must Attend:

Anyone who enjoys Native American culture and art will find the Tucson event a "must-see." Artisans have told me that they work during the winter to create new art and have the best selection available for this show. After the Tucson show, they often continue on to the Heard Indian Market in March. So, you'll get a great selection by attending the Tucson show in February.

I found the quality of the artists to be impressive. I saw artists that I had not encountered at other large shows and was amazed by the variety. There were painted gourds, sand paintings, storytellers, folk art carvings, metal work, a fantastic selection of pottery, contemporary and traditional jewelry (I love it when the artists combine the old with the new), katsinas, and paintings on canvas and wood. There were the tried and true award-winning artists and some great up and coming artists.

We enjoyed the colorful dance programs, and stood in line for a great Indian Taco (frybread with beans, cheese, and salad).

I highly recommend that you plan a trip to Tucson for the Native Amercian Art Fair. When you come, wear sunscreen, comfortable shoes, arrive as early as possible and plan to spend the entire day. If you can, buy your tickets ahead of time as it will save you from standing in the long ticket line. There is so much to see and experience.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.