A sample of photos by Matika Wilbur, via Project 562.

A sample of photos by Matika Wilbur, via Project 562.

If you’re fortunate enough to have today off for Indigenous People’s Day, I’ve got a suggestion for the best place to spend it: The Heard Museum in Phoenix, which has a series of events to commemorate the day.

Here is a list of the events, which begin at 12:30 p.m.

You may have heard that the Phoenix City Council voted that the city would celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. That makes it the largest U.S. city to celebrate the annual event.

As the news story reported:

The proposal to create Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Phoenix emerged in May, when residents Jeff Malkoon and Carlos Bravo submitted to the city an application for a historical commemoration.

“The city of Phoenix is built on what was the Hohokam civilization,” Malkoon told council members. “We just think this is a significant statement for a city like Phoenix, being such a center point in the Southwest.”

And this is part of a growing national trend, as CNN reports.

In what was a great preview of Monday’s Heard events, audience members at the Heard Sunday afternoon heard from two artists and two lawyers on the intersection of art, Indian identity and law. (I wrote about the event here.)

That gathering included insights from artists Matika Wilbur and Gregg Deal.

Deal’s film “The Last American Indian on Earth” was screened. It shows, in surprising and occasionally humorous ways, the complicated relationship mainstream American society has with Native culture.

Wearing a faux historic Indian costume (manufactured in China, for good measure), Deal strode about Washington DC. The reactions he got were troubling and laden with meaning.

As Deal says in the voiceover, “When you let the cameras roll, Americans, they don’t disappoint.”

As one hand-written sign he holds tells passersby, “My spirit animal is white guilt.”

L to R at the Heard Museum panel on Indian identity, art, and law, Oct. 9, 2016: Matika Wilbur, Kevin Gover, Gregg Deal, Brett Shelton.

L to R at the Heard Museum panel on Indian identity, art, and law, Oct. 9, 2016: Matika Wilbur, Kevin Gover, Gregg Deal, Brett Shelton.

Matika Wilbur then spoke, presenting her itinerant photo experience with Project 562, which aims to photograph citizens of each federally recognized tribe in the United States (there are now 566).

As she describes on her site:

“Most of the time, I’ve been invited to geographically remote reservations to take portraits and hear stories from a myriad of tribes, while at other times I’ve photographed members of the 70 percent of Native Americans living in urban settings. My hope is that when the project is complete, it will serve to educate the nation and shift the collective consciousness toward recognizing our own indigenous communities.”

A longtime educator from Seattle, Wilbur asked, “When are we going to stop asking our children to choose between cultural education and Western education?”

Wilbur also spoke about how Indian identity is “inextricably connected to the land.” Discussing the sensation known as solastalgia—separation from home—she wondered how the Cocopah, for instance, known as the people of the blue-green water, could be Cocopah if access to that water is denied or destroyed.

In the subsequent panel discussion, attorney Kevin Gover addressed that issue and the way violations have been visited on Native peoples by the American legal system. For example, in Fletcher v. Peck (1810), the U.S. Supreme Court determined that Indian title to land was not true title, as Indians were itinerant hunters and had never been farmers—an absolute misstatement of the facts. But it was decisions like that which provided the veneer of law to unjust decisions.

In fact, Gover pointed out, the most famous Native-land-title cases were collusive ones, manufactured conflicts presented by land speculators to prod a desired outcome from a compliant Court. To America’s enduring shame, the Court proved a willing co-conspirator in the effort.

The American legal system, Gover said, “played a huge role in the removal and dispossession of Native peoples.”

Through their art, Matika Wilbur and Gregg Deal explore America’s complicated relationship with Native peoples. As a teacher, Wilbur reminded the audience that these mainstream viewpoints are learned ones, and that the dominant Western view of Indians helps shield society from honest appraisals.

To illustrate that, she showed search results in Google images from searches for the simple terms “African American,” “Asian American,” “Hispanic American,” and, finally, “Native American.”

Among all of those searches, the Native American search was the only one that yielded an almost uniform view of Indians as historic beings—and actually as faux historic beings. Nearly every image reconfirms the popular image of Indians as conceptualized 150 years ago.

Google image search results for "Native American," Oct. 9, 2016.

Google image search results for “Native American,” Oct. 9, 2016.

Where are the modern Indians who live among us, Wilbur asked.

They are all about us, Wilbur and Deal said. If people are willing to see.

Again, here are today’s Heard Museum events.

Google image search results for "Asian American," Oct. 9, 2016.

Google image search results for “Asian American,” Oct. 9, 2016.

Google image search results for "African American," Oct. 9, 2016.

Google image search results for “African American,” Oct. 9, 2016.

Google image search results for "Hispanic American," Oct. 9, 2016.

Google image search results for “Hispanic American,” Oct. 9, 2016.


Among the elements of a Heard Museum dialogue will be the screening of a short documentary about Gregg Deal and his performance piece 'The Last American Indian on Earth.'

Among the elements of a Heard Museum dialogue will be the screening of a short documentary about Gregg Deal and his performance piece ‘The Last American Indian on Earth.’

This Sunday, October 9, the Heard Museum in Phoenix hosts an event that examines important intersections. “A Conversation at the Intersection of Art, Law and Indian Identity” will include a panel discussion of attorneys and American Indian artists. Some of the questions addressed will be, How does an artist’s vision implicate such identity? And what are the consequences, both legally and in the wider community?

For the event, the Heard is partnering with the Native American Rights Fund and the Indian Legal Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

Admission is free, but RSVP here is required. A reception begins at 3:30 p.m., and the program begins at 4 p.m.

Kevin Gover will moderate the panel discussion. He is the director of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Panelists will include:

  • Brett Shelton (Oglala Sioux Tribe), artist and staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund
  • Gregg Deal (Pyramid Lake Paiute), contemporary artist/activist
  • Matika Wilbur (Swinomish/Tulalip), artist and social documentarian in Indian Country. She is founder of Project 562 which explores Native identity and experience through a dedication to photographing contemporary Native America.

Organizers say:

“The program will include the screening of a short documentary The Last American Indian On Earth, about contemporary artist Gregg Deal’s first performance piece ‘The Last American Indian On Earth’ (TLAIOE), a piece he carried for a year. TLAIOE explores the romantic, misunderstood and often racist interactions average Americans have when encountering an Indigenous person. The performance allows Deal to explore this strange American interaction, the problems with it and the critical thinking that goes in to asserting identity and enacting change.”

For more background, here is a great video with Gregg Deal speaking in Washington DC. (at Creative Mornings in July 2014):

More information including a link to the free tickets is on the event’s Facebook page.


Creatives always welcome: Old Vic Theatre stage door (photo by YellowFratello via Wikimedia Commons).

Creatives always welcome: Old Vic Theatre stage door (photo by YellowFratello via Wikimedia Commons).

Here is a preview of my editor’s column in the January 2016 issue. It’s all about the arts, baby, and getting those submissions in by January 13:

Vision in, vision out

Sure, creativity may reflect individual talent. But it may take a community to spur your muse.

Oddly enough, it was an advertisement—for our annual Creative Arts Competition—that made me think of that. For it is our experience that marketing matters, and although there are many talented lawyers in Arizona, getting them to submit their work by our deadline of January 13 takes prodding and cajoling. And part of that encouragement comes via ads.

Our current ad seeking submissions from artistic attorneys is on page 23. But only the close-reader will note that the ad is part of a four-month series, each with a slightly different headline. The ads were created by our own talented Production Manager, Michael Peel. And the headline variation? Crowdsourced, o’course. I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, though, I ask your help in communicating a contest rule change to your own crowds: Those submitting photos are now limited to a maximum of 15 submissions. We’ve found that digital photography makes it all too easy to submit 30, 40, even 100 photos. No mas, as Ansel Adams probably said. Friends don’t let friends submit terabytes. (Enjoy all of our legalistic rules here.)

Back to our rotating headlines.

You’ll see that our current ad asks readers if they’ve “got verve?” In previous months, we asked if they’ve got passion, inspiration, and oomph. Yes. Oomph.

Arts competition ads being voted on in our office.

Arts competition ads being voted on in our office.

Those were merely the most popular arty-nouns among staff who voted on the visual array displayed and available in our office. “But” (you ask), “what ended up on the cutting-room floor? What words were rejected?

I’ll tell you. And then I want you to write to me to say which of those terms you think deserved a better fate. What are your faves?

Here is the also-rans list, each preceded by the question “got … ?” ideas – forte – moxie – insight – creative – imagination – voice – entries – vision – knack – flair – skills

Tell me which you prefer—and why—and I may pick my own most-creative responder. I’m at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. I’ll determine the most headline-worthy riposte, and you may win your own little something–something for your troubles.

public speaking and how to present are my topics at an upcoming conference

How to present best is my assigned topic at an upcoming conference. Help a fellow out.

As I finish up a PowerPoint presentation, it occurred to me: Why haven’t I asked you all for your insight?

And so I seek your input on my presentation topic. My assigned title is “The Art of Presenting.”

Pretty high-falutin’, right?

So what I wonder is this: What are your one or two best ideas that transform a presentation from “Meh” to “Wow!”??

Enough already with dull presentations

Enough already with dull presentations …

To give you a sense of my presenting obligation, here is the program language:

“A lot of what we do comes down to how we engage with people, communicate and get our message across. When you are asked to create a presentation, your presentation style and visuals need to be spot on. Our presenters will discuss the art of getting your presentation just right. They will share thoughtful tips on how to communicate clearly and concisely during your presentation, followed by tips on how to engage your audience visually.”

My presenting cohort will be the terrific Catherine Sanders Reach of the Chicago Bar Association. You can read about the conference here. (And no; I will not be going to Harry Potter World.)

... let's bring on the must-see, compelling presentation. keanu_reeves_ intense hands 1

… let’s bring on the must-see, compelling presentation.

We’ll be the first to admit that “the art of presenting” may be setting the bar a tetch high. But we’re up to the challenge.

Your idea(s) on what makes a presentation terrific (and the opposite) are welcome. Please send them to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.


Man Ray's Glass Tears (via wikiart)

Man Ray’s Glass Tears (via wikiart)

It’s all art all the time this week. A little law too.

Soon, I will share my surreal October Arizona Attorney editor’s column. It’s about art, plus it has a clown image. You’re welcome.

And then there was this odd pro se defense to art fraud. I read about the strange legal story out of San Francisco, and it occurred to me it’s a pretty good argument for the value of lawyers. As the story goes:

“When Luke Brugnara represented himself during a bizarre art fraud trial in May, the fallen real estate magnate frequently railed that the art he was accused of stealing was ‘fake’ and essentially worthless. That argument didn’t carry much weight with the federal jury that convicted Brugnara. But at an evidentiary hearing on Wednesday, a government expert conceded that much of the art at issue in the case has ‘no commercial value.’ The hearing led U.S. District Judge William Alsup to muse aloud about how the prosecution might have turned out had Brugnara relied on counsel rather than represent himself.”

Read the whole sorry artistic tale here.

Adding to the artistry (but not the legalism) of today’s Change of Venue blog post, I was pleased to see it was Man Ray’s birthday earlier this week. That’s his “tears” photo at the top of this post.

As the terrific Saatchi Art folks describe it:

“In celebration of his birthday earlier this week, we’re raising a glass to Man Ray, an artist and provocateur whose name is synonymous with the Dada and Surrealist movements. Though he considered himself only obliquely part of these groups, his influence is unquestioned. Born Emmanuel Radnitzky in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1890, Man Ray spent his early years in New York City and eventually moved to Paris, where he spent most of his artistic career, where he found inspiration in the European avant-garde movement.”

“He made drawings and paintings first but found his metier when he began to experiment with interdisciplinary methods and photography. Man Ray’s assemblages and images were unconventional for the time, combining mediums and presenting subject matter that was often provocative. Photographers today still draw inspiration from Man Ray’s daring style.”

Don’t stop there. Read all of Saatchi’s “7 things to know this week in art.” And then follow them for more art-y updates.

Finally, thanks to Saatchi and the world’s reaction, we now know that a young student managed to stumble into a million-dollar painting in a Taiwan gallery. As you watch him do it in the video below, marvel at (1) how your week may have been tough, but, really, no comparison, and (2) he was adept enough not to spill his drink!

Here’s the painting before the boy’s stumble:

Flowers painting by Paolo Porpora

Flowers painting by Paolo Porpora

Curious about the damage a little stumble can cause? Here’s a photo:

"Pressed" flowers? The painting by Paolo Porpora after a young man tripped and fell into it.

“Pressed” flowers? The painting by Paolo Porpora after a young man tripped and fell into it.

Keep your footing, and have a terrific weekend.

Tom Brady courtroom artist, panned online, apologizes

A Tom Brady courtroom artist was panned online and has apologized. Because priorities.

It takes a lot to get large media outfits interested on a deep level with the justice system. Despite how central our courts and laws are to every area of life, it usually takes a special element—like a notorious murderess or, say, a football player—to garner serious coverage.

Well, if you combine a famous baller with what’s widely perceived to be a visual fail, you’ve got a story the press wants to cover.

That’s what happened as New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady sat in a courtroom. And the story that emerged was about the lack of artistic justice he received from a New York Times sketch artist.

You can see the artwork above. While the Patriots fans among my readers cry deep and abiding Tom Brady tears, I’ll simply say, first … I have always been a big fan of the courtroom sketch artist, and I’ve covered their exploits before. Whether you’re drawing John Gotti, Tom Brady, or some other dissembler (sorry to bring on more tears, Pats fans), the job of the courtroom artist is a tough one.

Obergefell v. Hodges sketch by Arthur Lien.

Obergefell v. Hodges sketch by Arthur Lien.

So evocative can a courtroom sketch be that we’ll be running one (by Arthur Lien) in the next Arizona Attorney Magazine. It depicts the Supreme Court as the ruling in the same-sex marriage case Obergefell v. Hodges was announced. (And yes, we paid Art for his work!)

That’s why the NYT story irked as much as it informed. Brady was in federal court appealing his four-game suspension (The injustice! The horror!), and artist Jane Rosenberg did her best to quickly capture the essence of the sullied QB.

And, O the anger her work wrought, as people emerged to impugn her skill and wax poetic about Brady’s baby-faced visage.

Ultimately, the twittersphere would have its justice, as Rosenberg offered an apology of sorts:

“I’m getting bad criticism that I made him look like Lurch,” she said, referring to the Addams Family character. “And obviously I apologize to Tom Brady for not making him as good-looking as he is.”

Hey, Ms. Rosenberg, I’ve got a suggestion: Apologize for nothing. NOTHING.

After all, we have to be open to a deeper possibility. As an artist, Rosenberg was tapping a deep well of resonance. Maybe she drew not what was precisely before her, but what lay beneath.

Oliver Wilde offers an analogue in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Who’s to say what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

Oliver Wilde's Dorian Gray is a pretty-boy, but the painting reveals a deeper story.

Oliver Wilde’s Dorian Gray is a pretty-boy, but the painting reveals a deeper story.

And I reached deep within and tried my own hand at drawing a likeness of Tom Brady, but this is the best I could do.

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Cue the ire of the Patriots’ fans and Brady defenders (some of whom—men and women both—have told me, “He’s too cute to be guilty,” reminding me the jury system—and the human race—is a crap shoot).

I offer a hat-tip to Tim Chester of Mashable for the story link.

Here’s wishing you a great—and fully inflated—weekend.

Thomas Jefferson Center 1st Amendment container indiegogo

Combining art and the First Amendment may be a natural match. But making it mobile? That may ensure the amendment of first in people’s minds.

I just came across a new crowdfunding venture, and this one creates a mobile and democratic monument to the First Amendment.

That could be a worthy follow-up to the installation of Arizona’s Bill of Rights monument near the state Capitol. This new effort would put the monument in a shipping container, which could be re-sited at will. It also would allow and encourage input by passers-by, who could add their own messages to the structure.

Thomas Jefferson Center 1st Amendment container indiegogo logoYou can read more about the campaign here. And here is a video from the organizers.

Board members for this initiative include journalist Dahlia Lithwick and UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh.

There are 36 days left in the effort. And if you’ve never viewed a crowdfunding site, take a look. It’s a process that provides some payback—large or small—to funders.