Lakota Artist Shows New Watercolor Satwiwa Exhibit

Seated in the cool shade of a willow tree, we interviewed Del Bettelyoun on a perfect Satwiwa Saturday afternoon. “This is not a simple question”, he pondered deeply when asked how his heritage has influenced his artistic endeavors. The voice of Del Bettelyoun’s ancestral connections are clearly evident in his work, and in the quiet unassuming manner of a true artist and observer, he admitted that his interest in art goes back as far as he can remember, to when he was a very young child.

Del’s ancestry is Lakota, where his father was born on Eagle Nest Butte on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. His mother’s ancestry is Danish, but it was his father who was most encouraging when it came to developing his talents. Born in Washington State, Del lived on the Colville Indian Reservation as a toddler. By the age 4 his family relocated to Los Angeles with the U.S. Federal Indian Relocation program. He spent his elementary school through high school years in the Los Angeles Unified School District. “The Federal Relocation program was failure,” Del said. When the Bettelyouns moved to Los Angeles the program landed them in the Boil Heights area with the lure of a better economic situation; but was not forthcoming as promised by the government.

“My father was an artist”, he revealed. Art was directly integrated into his family’s everyday life where Del’s father was his mentor, teaching him how to work with his hands and tap into his artistic expressions. Despite the family’s economic struggles, his father eventually obtained an Art degree that allowed him to teach in his later years. Coming from a family of artists, Del also has three brothers and a sister: His brother Brian has shown his beautiful gourd work here at Satwiwa, while another brother is a musician, and the other brother does old-style feather-work. Del’s sister makes jewelry and his mother has done crocheting, leatherwork, and some painting.

Bettelyoun is accomplished in many forms of fine art and craftwork, where he has mastered several vastly different forms of artistic expression. His First Nations native ancestry is seen throughout all of his work, with examples in woodcut and woodcarving, linoleum cuts and printmaking, metal sculpture, leather and rawhide braiding, feather work, fans and headdresses, cedar chests and boxes, just to name a few. Native themes can be seen as the interconnecting and defining link in his work, yet the effective reasons for this link elude an explanation when he is asked directly. “That is one reason why I do the painting and the wood boxes and all the different things that I’ve done, it’s because it is not clear to me how it’s affected my work”, he explains. “You know, that’s part of the process. It’s an ongoing process”.

Currently, Bettelyoun is focusing on watercolor painting, where he has moved into this medium with ease as his followers look onto many more inspirational results. When asked why he has chosen watercolor, his philosophy goes deeper than mere pigment on paper: “Water is life. It is the essence, it is us, it is everything,” he says without hesitation. Those of us who are knowledgeable on the topic of watercolor application to the standard textured paper, we know it is an extremely difficult technique to master. Del seems to possess that envious gift of skill and intuitiveness, yet he casually passes the credit to the medium: “Water takes care of the painting. I add the pigment and the water takes care of it”.

He is also known to deliberately avoid titling his artwork. “People always want to know the meanings”, he says of his paintings when viewers ask the exact purpose, the symbolism, or what the piece is all about. To encourage dialogue, he has found that titling his paintings only serves to block the flow of conversation that might ensue. He believes that titles sell short the discovery of deeper meanings. This is again where his philosophy of art is so fundamental to his finished work: Art is to bring people together, encourage meaningful communication, and generate curiosity and thought. “This is where it is exciting, because when I ask them, ‘Well, what does this mean to you?’ with this interaction, I learn more about people, and then learn more about myself. We all need to think,” Del responds, having strong convictions in the preservation of Native American cultures, as well as a true recognition of respect for human dignity and the value of diversity. “We all need to have our own interpretations. We are all individuals and we know what is best for ourselves”.

The Native American Astronomer

Lamenti, who grew up close Tuba City, Arizona on the Navajo Nation Reservation, did not set off for college promptly after secondary school. He passed his 20s and 30s in the corporate world and searching for significance in his life, which he found in the 1990s when he began taking an interest in Navajo functions. He chose he needed to better know his Creator. “Also, the best approach to do that for me was to take in more about the creation,” he said.

The material science and arithmetic model spoke to Lamenti, along these lines, in 2002, at very nearly 45 years of age, he enlisted at San Francisco State University (SFSU) to seek after a four year college education in physical science. He inclined toward space science in his sophomore year when he was acknowledged into a temporary position program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and set into its astronomy division. Presently 53, Lamenti is selected at Indiana University-Bloomington (IU), where he has finished his expert’s and has around two years to go on his Ph.D. in space science.

He doesn’t know where he will wind up once his Ph.D. is finished. He appreciates the examination, and has done a lot of it. He has worked at the Nearby Supernova Factory helping with the advancement of a calculation for sky straightforwardness at the observatory on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. He likewise burned through two summers at Fermilab in Illinois making an entry for onlookers to analyze daily perceptions of supernovae contender for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey II, the second period of a worldwide, multi-institutional, three-stage push to make a guide of the universe, and at IU, he has examined the range of titan stars in globular bunches. He is as of now analyzing outspread speeds of stars in the Beehive, an open star group in the Milky Way world approximately 600 light years from Earth.

Yet, Lamenti additionally loves the thought of instructing, especially about-facing home to teach Navajos on the miracles of the last outskirts and maybe motivate some to seek after professions in cosmology. He trusts indigenous believed is required for a comprehensive way to deal with science and comprehension the universe.

Lamenti is not the only one with his craving to see more Native American cosmologists. There are several projects out there made to draw in additional star gazers into the field. One is the Navajo-Hopi Astronomy Outreach Program at Lowell Observatory in northern Arizona where they promote buy a star services as a teaching resource. The project, began around 15 years back, sets cosmologists with basic and optional teachers at tribal schools. The space experts go to the schools a few times amid the year to talk about cosmology themes and draw in the understudies with hands-on exercises. Five schools took an interest in the naming a star project a year ago, and three are ready this year.


Native American Flute Music & Artwork

If you are lucky enough to discover the peace and tranquility of Satwiwa, you may also be lucky enough to hear the flute music of Eric “Medicine Wind” Alvarado. Eric Alvarado comes from Arizona; his ancestry is Hopi from the 2nd Mesa. He owns many flutes of different tone and character, and can bring them all to life as a highlight to the beauty and splendor of Satwiwa.

Alvarado is also a multi-talented frame maker. He designs and constructs custom-made, one-of-a-kind, frames that enhance paintings, photos, prints and posters. Each individual piece is painstakingly constructed using his diverse talents in wood design and construction, polishing, beading, and the gathering and mounting of three-dimensional decorative embellishments. Occasionally, he finds time to do commissioned work using elements of Native American themes and materials approved for mainstream sale and commerce.

However, most of his work is non-commercial and is not sold on the open market as these precious pieces are made from traditional materials, such as eagle and hawk feathers, horse hair, animal skins, and items that are used only for Native American ceremonial purposes. Drawing upon the strength of Grandmother Earth, his traditional work enhances the beauty, balance and sacredness of all life. These pieces are traded strictly between Native American Indian people according to the laws that restrict the sale of such items for the protection of cultural identity and sacred observance. Sometimes, he brings samples of his work to Satwiwa, so you may get lucky, if you come to visit when he is here!

Please be sure to check our Satwiwa calendar for Eric’s scheduled weekend flute performances. Rumor has it that he may be cutting an album soon! Be sure to check with us often, and come enjoy the flute music of Eric “Medicine Wind” Alvarado.