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Meet the artist - Local artist has quite a following

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By Meredith Britt
For the Optic

From commercial art and a degree in agriculture to gaining distinction in Indian Market, the Smithsonian Institution, museums, books and magazines, Jerry Ingram’s career as a Native American artist has steadily grown.

His wife, Sally Ingram, creates the traditional diagonal weave beadwork of the Wisconsin Winnebago HoChunk nation so artfully that even the HoChunk people order from her.

Jerry, a Choctaw and Cherokee (with some German and Scot), and Sally (who is not Indian but l with the HoChunk in Wisconsin) are the newest members of el Zócalo Cooperative Art Gallery on the Las Vegas Plaza. Sally and Jerry met through their ties to the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, moved to Ilfeld and their interests and work recently migrated to el Zócalo. They are the gallery’s featured artists for May. All are welcome to attend an artist reception from 2 to 4 p.m. this Saturday.

His work includes paintings of Native subjects, beadwork, woodcarving, quill- and feather-work, clothing and leather, all integrated into traditional clothing and implements of numerous Woodland tribes, Northern Plains tribes, Northwest Coast and Southeastern tribes. One of Jerry’s paintings, “Calling the Eagles,” appears on the 1990 U.S. Census poster.

Jerry has taught traditional arts at IAIA in Santa Fe, and lectured through a fellowship at the Smithsonian in New York and Washington, D.C.

“Artwork is my main livelihood,” Jerry said. He also does wax carving models for fine jewelry, buckles, bracelets and tiny charms. The University of Pennsylvania Museum, Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and the IAIA Museum have purchased his work. He has exhibited in galleries in the Southwest before coming to el Zócalo.

Sally also has lectured on the work of both artists at the Fashion Institute at the State University of New York. Her writings on diagonal weave beadwork have been published in Threads Magazine and Beadwork Magazine. An image of a leather and beadwork frog appeared in the recent issue of Bead and Button Magazine. She has taught beading at Bead Expo and Embellishment, two annual arts events in Santa Fe and Houston.

She learned the Ho-Chunk diagonal weave beadwork from Lillian Thundercloud and now is one of the few people who have preserved this custom. She went on to do her master’s degree research in the technique, which only a few tribes used, she said. Work dating to the 1700s is the earliest known use of the diagonal weave, which at that time incorporated wampum shells. “It’s a lost art,” Sally said.

Besides her beadwork, Sally has been knitting since childhood. Her work includes two-strand and lace methods, resulting in sweaters, blankets, hats, socks, mittens, bags, scarves and dolls.

Their artwork may be viewed any time during business hours at el Zócalo Cooperative Art Gallery, 212 Old Town Plaza.

Their reception takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 10.