Ruth-Ann Thorn From New TV Show – Art In The City

Posted By Paul G August 30th, 2022 Last Updated on: August 30th, 2022

From fine art to performance art to the masters of the culinary arts, renowned gallerist, TV producer Ruth-Ann Thorn's series “Art of the City” is dedicated to supporting, recognizing, and celebrating the extraordinary efforts of Native American Artists.

Join Paul G for an interview with Ruth-Ann Thorn and Frank Blanquet from FNX.


Intro: Welcome to Pow Wow live podcast from Powwows.com. Connecting you as native culture since 1996. Here's your host, Paul Gower.

Paul: Hello. Welcome back to another episode of the Pow Wow live podcast. I'm your host, Paul G from powwows.com. Thank you all for being here again with me this week. I've got a great show tonight. So the folks over at FNX, a TV network, all with an all native programming is coming out with a new show called Art of the City, and I'm interviewing two of the people involved in that show to talk about kind of the idea behind the show and what you're going to see. They're taking deep dives into some native artists, showing their work, their inspiration, and really helping you to see different types of native art all across North America. 

So I'm really excited for you to hear from them. And I hope you'll go check out the show on FNX. Also be sure to stay tuned for after the interview. I've got some special announcements and this week trivia contest. In addition, another bonus code to enter into our Native American Heritage month giveaway. We're giving away 12 blankets from Eighth generation. All that after the interview, but here are the folks from Art in the City. 

Tonight I'm really excited to tell you about a new show that's hitting FNX. It is called Art in the City, and it is going to be a way for you to see native art across North America in a really cool way. So I'm excited to have Ruth-Ann Thorn and Frank Blanquet here to talk about it. First let's introduce yourselves and make sure everybody out there knows what you guys got going on.

Ruth: Okay, I'll start. I'm Ruth-Ann Thorn. I'm a tribal member at the ring con band of [01:58 inaudible] Indians located in San Diego. And I am a filmmaker and a host, and I've been in the art business for 31 years now. And it's been such a joy to be able to document some of the great native artists of our time. And then recently go into Santa Fe Indian market, 2021 and people see what's happening there.

Paul: And Frank.

Frank: Frank Blanquet, [02:28 inaudible] Powwowa.com. Greetings. My name is Frank Blanquet. I am Maya from Yucatan, Mexico, and I work for FNX TV. It's 24/7 Native American television channel, available here in the United States. 

Paul: Awesome. Alright. So the new show, before we get too far into it. So when does the show premiere and tell people how they can watch it, we'll do that first. And we'll talk about more about what they're going to see on it.

Ruth: So Frank, you want to take that?

Frank: So the show premiers this Thursday and then it's going to repeat on Saturday. You can watch it on either on FNX TV, if you receive the channel. You could watch it on the FNX.org/art of the city website. And I think we're going to put it on Facebook live as well. So there's going to be a couple different ways that people can watch it. 

Paul: So Ruth-Ann, tell us a little bit more about what we're going to expect. I mean, what kind of art are you going to feature in this first episode?

Ruth: Okay. So the first episode I'm extremely excited about because it gave me an opportunity to really move into a direction that at the beginning of the year, I'm going to start filming. But it is a whole series on all of the artists that I was able to get interviews with at Indian market 2021. And these are artists that have really made an impact. I think, one first timer at Indian market, everybody else has made, really impact in different genres. So you have bead workers, you've got basket making, painting, textile, fashion design, colonary artists. So you really get to see like a whole group of these incredible talents all in one 30 minute show. So that's what I'm excited about mostly.

Paul: That's cool. So culinary artists too, that's pretty exciting that you're going to be able to feature something like that and that's not something, there are so many things out there that are highlighting the traditional beadwork and things like that. And you guys are really going to delve deep into some other types of artwork that maybe people aren't as familiar with. Right?

Ruth: Correct. So we have wood carving and jewelry making of a couple of different types and even our very famous musician who worked with the likes of Joanie Mitchell and Sting that I just ran into some young graffiti artists. So there's a whole, I think I cover about 12 different artists in the two days that I was there at Indian market. So it was power packed.

Paul: That's incredible. That's great. And we talk a lot on powwows.com, especially on this show about how important it is, whether it's on TV and what you guys are doing, or on the web or whatever that representation really does matter. So for these artists out there and then up and coming artists, what does it mean to you, I guess, and for the artist you talk to, to be able to show their art in this way and really get it out there to more people.

Ruth: I think it's important because this is who we are as native people across the country and our styles of art, music, dance, food, they're very different from coast to coast in the central part of this country. And the reason that I am so passionate about it is because a lot of people don't even know the history of who we are as native people. They have no idea that a hundred million people occupied this Northern continent. And now we are the smallest minority group of the United States. 

But the beauty is, is that we're still here. And whether we have kept our traditions intact, or whether we're learning and exploring them, like a lot of the tribes lost a lot of the tradition, but now it's making a comeback. Then the other thing is now things are starting to evolve or we're taking traditional things such as food, and now we're blending it with the contemporary ideas of technology or whatever it is. So you're getting this whole new resurgence, I feel like of natives, but back to your original question. 

It's so important for these artists to be able to have recognition because it allows them the ability to continue to create, because a lot of these guys, something like Indian market represents 80% of their entire income for the whole year. And without people supporting that, they're having to go work at Starbucks or something.

Paul: And I know it was a struggle for a lot of artists during these last couple years, things were crazy without having events like the Indian market. And I love hearing that you're going to feature some of the modern things. I love seeing, like we did a thing on powwows.com last year where baby Yoda from the Mandalorian really took over native art. You saw it in beadwork and you saw people making t-shirt designs really indigenizing. If that's a word. The baby Yoda and that kind of thing and using a contemporary thing that was going on, everybody was addicted to that show, but really using that as a way to show their creativity. I love that. 

And there are some artists doing some amazing things with contemporary arts. That's really exciting to be able to see that featured too. So in the future, are we looking at more episodes or is it just going to be just a couple of episodes or what are we to expect? How is the show going to evolve?

Ruth: So the show, the first one is the most recent, which is Art of the City in Indian country covering Santa Fe 2021 Indian market. Then there'll be shows that never had a chance to be aired about 4 really important native artists. George Rivera, Roxanne Swansil, Raymond Norwell and Nikona Burgess. These are artists that have kind of been trailblazers for younger artists. They all went to IIA. They came out of Santa Fe, but they have their own unique twists. So I did individual interviews in their studios to tell their story, because art isn't just about what you see, the end creation. Art is about the person that created it. Because when you think about it, only one person in one section of time can create whatever they're creating. It's that individual. 

So once you learn about where they come from, the artwork takes on a whole different view. You get to see it from a completely different way because of these stories. And I think native people are storytellers. So that's what I'm doing. And then we are actually going to go into another city, which is non-native artists, but we have a couple of indigenous artists, to New Orleans. So we have a whole series on New Orleans. So we have that. And then I'm hoping that everybody likes me enough that they'll support my next venture, which is going to be going to tribes and doing almost like an Anthony Bourdain style of filming. So you get to see a lot of fun things in a tribe.

Paul: Very cool. That's really exciting. I love the idea of telling the story. Artists is very personal and it is so much about the artist and their background, their unique perspective on life and when that comes through their art, then it really makes it special. That's really cool to hear that you're going to tell those kind of stories. I think it's important for everybody out there to see these kind of stories and to put personalities to the art and really know the stories behind it, because they aren't just things you see in the museums or wherever. It is a really personal thing. That's awesome to hear. 

Frank: If I could just interject something real quick. When I first talked to Ruth-Ann and I saw some for work, I think. There's some things that struck me. I think the Chicano part segment, where she talks about the Chicano movement in San Diego and how it's intertwined really with some of the indigenous people both on north and south side of the US Mexico border. And I think that was really, really gripping to me. I really liked the episode with your mom Ruth-Ann. So just kind of seeing a little bit of your story and I really love seeing San Diego tribes represented. 

One of the things that I've always thought is that I don't think other tribes know enough about California tribes and I think educating our own communities, our own indigenous communities about San Diego, about the indigenous tribes that come from Mexico, I think Ruth-Ann's show encompasses all of that. And so I'm really looking forward to the day when we could put all those little segments on air as well. 

Paul: That's great.  I really like going out too. I go to Morongo every year and seeing some of the California singing and dancing that you really don't get to see out here in the east, with the bird dancing and things. It's cool to see, see that side of the culture and have a little bit of the local flare there. So that's going to be fun to see, that come through in art as well.

Ruth: The other thing that I think is really important is that we start feeling the confidence after the generational trauma to tell our stories. From my reservation, a lot of our elders have really held the culture very tight to their chest because we knew what happened last time we let everybody know who we were and it wasn't a good story. So there's been generations of fear. Fear about telling people who we are. And I feel like we're hitting an impase now where we don't want to forget the trauma and the things that happened, but we also want to be able to come out of that. 

And the way that we do that is by telling our own stories, rather than having somebody else tell the story. We actually can present it in a way that really shows our resilience and shows that we are not victims, that we're survivors. And we are beyond that. We're thriving now in so many different ways. I think the one thing that the more we can get exposure for who we are also allows people to understand that we are people that are giving. So for instance, we have a casino where my tribe is. And sometimes I've heard some very negative comments from people about, oh, those Indians and their casino, and don't they get enough from the government. They get everything paved. 

Well, if you're a native indigenous person, you know, that's not true. We have to make our own way and we have done that. But when we're able to educate people in a really kind way, I feel like the arts can paint a story that is nonconfrontational, people start to align themselves with us. And the reason that's important is because we are still at a struggle to keep our rights and our treaties intact. So when you've got a group of voters out there that have seen these shows and have heard these stories and it comes to the vote and they see something on the ballot, that's going to affect natives on the reservations and in Indian country, they're going to tend to want to be on our side and we need as many advocates as we possibly can gain. So that's another really important thing for me to tell those stories and get that exposure because people can look at us and say, Hey, these guys are pretty cool

Paul: A friend of mine told me, and I don't know the exact word, but Jacques once said something to the effect of, people they protect and hold close things that they understand and they relate to. So the more you tell these stories, the more you get people exposed, the more other people will relate to it and then help protect it. So, yeah, I think that's really important to get the education out there. And to tell these stories, like you said, that not only are these native artists resilient, but they are diverse and they are different. It's not one thing. There are so many different things and I love that you're going to tell some California stories and then go into New Orleans too. It's going to be great to see how those regional differences are. And I think a lot of people outside, viewers of your network or readers of powwows.com, they probably don't get that.

I'm sure we've got some followers on my site too, that maybe don't quite understand that because all they see is the pictures of powwows. So I love being able to present something else and another story out there. That's great. Guys thank you so much for the time. Frank once again, it's fnx.org is where they can go to watch it. 

Frank: Fnx.Org/Art of the City. Okay. And it's going to premier on Thursday, November 4th at 7:00 PM Eastern time, 4:00 PM Pacific time. And then it'll repeat on Sunday November 11th at 5:00 PM Eastern time, 2:00 PM Pacific time. 

Paul: Awesome. Thanks guys for the time. I cannot wait to watch it and we'll make sure to put those links out on powwows.com for all of our readers to get there. Thanks and good luck on the show.

Ruth: Thank you so much. We really appreciate it. Thank you.

Paul: And there it is our interview with the folks over at FNX and their new show Art in the City. I hope you'll go over and check that out. It's going to be a great show. As promised, first, this week's trivia question, and since we're going to be celebrating Thanksgiving next week, here's a Thanksgiving trivia question. The story of the pilgrims celebrating with the native people of New England, we hear it told every Thanksgiving and of course there are lots of mistold information and all of that, but putting all that aside, what tribe is it that was involved in that feast and that celebration. If you got the answer, head on over to www.powwowlife.com. There's a contest form there. Put in your answer and I will randomly draw from the correct answers next week and you'll get a powwows.com sticker pack.

Also, if you would, please head over to www.powwownation.com. This is where you can go and actually support powwows.com with a monthly contribution. We're trying to get some more funding so that we can go and stream more Pow Wows in 2022. Pow Wows are coming back big already. Next year, we are going to be back to a full schedule and we want to send our teams out there and stream more Pow Wows for you. So if you would consider making a monthly contribution as little as $2 a month really goes a long way and will help us get those teams out to even more Pow wows in the future and bring those streams to you. So head on over to powwownation.com, I would really appreciate your support. 

Now, here is your bonus code for the native American heritage month giveaway sponsored by Eighth Generation. We're giving away 12, Eighth Generation blankets, as well as some other tumblers and prizes that they've provided. Your bonus code this week is 9 8 0 1 8. If you head on over to www.powwows.com/win, enter the contest there. There's a place to put in a bonus code. Hey, and keep looking for bonus codes. I put them in all the podcasts this month on our live streams on Thursday night. I'm posting them on Instagram, in our newsletter, even hiding them on powwows.com. 

So lots of ways to enter. Don't miss your chance at one of these great blankets. They are amazing, amazing pieces of art. Eight Generation is a native-owned native design company. So you don't want to miss your chance to win one of these blankets. 

Now, if you are finding our podcast because you've scrolling through Facebook and it popped up, be sure that you don't miss our future episodes. Don't depend on Facebook algorithms to show you our podcast, head on over to Apple podcasts or Spotify, Stitcher. Any of the podcasting apps and make sure you hit follow or subscribe, that way you won't miss a single episode when they come out. 

Thanks for your support and listening to another episode of the Pow Wow life podcast. Again I'm Paul G from powwows.com. I'll see you next week folks.

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