chickee talk by Tina Marie Osceola


Being a Naples resident, January and February are always exciting. I think an important aspect of Naples’ magical charisma is its support of the arts. Whether it is fine arts or arts and crafts, Naples is such a wonderful place for markets, shows, festivals, and art markets! I am sure I bore people with my incessant blabber about beads, beading, beadwork, bead shopping, I can’t help myself, but I had quite the winter!

Southwest Florida really outdid itself this year. I must give a shout out to the Naples Art Institute for its annual New Year’s Art Fair at Cambier Park in downtown Naples. It started off my annual weekend pilgrimage to non-tribal art shows. For those of you who were in Naples the first weekend of January, you may remember what felt like a monsoon blowing through Naples on the first Saturday of the new year. Although I didn’t try to wade through the puddles to visit the countless vendors huddled under their tents at Cambier, I did take advantage of the drier weather on Sunday. I had many conversations with artists who were very relieved to get one good day out of the two, but I must say they all seemed very exhausted from their struggles the day before.

It often feels like no one really appreciates what goes into life as an art market vendor. The investment in your booth fees, travel, taxes, supplies, displays, as well as the long hours spent setting up and taking down. This was the life of my family when I was growing up, so although I get a bit nostalgic at times, I do not miss the back-breaking work, and the dependence on mother nature.

I remember our annual drive to Cherokee, North Carolina, for the Tribe’s annual fall festival. My brother, cousins, aunts, and grandparents would load our cars up and make the trek north. Grandma would always pack a lot of food for us to snack on because in the 1970’s we didn’t have enough money to eat at restaurants or even drive-through’s. It’s funny, I don’t remember feeling like we were missing out. Grandma and Aunt Tahama would cook up hard boiled eggs, lapaale (pan bread), fried salt pork bacon, fried beef, hot dogs, you name it! Once we got to Cherokee, we cuddled up in the warmest clothes and enjoyed the change of scenery, the fall leaves, the hills (Florida is so flat), and the fact we could see our breath!

One year, I must have been in first grade, it rained a lot!! The bathrooms were at the top of a little hill and the beaten down path had become super muddy. Well, I had decided to wear my best dress. It was bright red velvet with white, green and red patchwork with these really cool bell sleeves. My luck being what it is, I lost traction because I was wearing my bright red patent leather go-go boots! The slick bottoms, combined with the muddy terrain, led to my demise! I ended up in a muddy ball of shame at the bottom of the hill. I always wore my hair in two long ponytails or braids, but that day I had my hair down and two small braids framed my face. The mud turned my hair into a Medusa-like tangle! To make matters worse, my parents thought I had been playing and purposely slid down the muddy hill. Needless to say, I was muddy, cold, and mad at the injustice. Nothing like triggering a memory with rain, muddy puddles, and art shows!

Regardless of the memories, the New Year’s event sparked a burning desire to attend more. I wanted more jewelry, more artistic stimulation, and of course, inspiration! I followed up with the Art Fest at Riverside Park in Bonita Springs, the Art Fest at Fleischman Park, and the latest Art Fest at Coconut Point in Estero! I met so many cool artists and I cannot wait for next year! I plan on curating the winter month around these art shows. Get out and support the arts! Oh, and wear your mud boots!

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