FARMINGTON — Sitting behind his booth, Daniel Tate sketched the outline of a man's face on Saturday during the Totah Festival Indian Market and Powwow.
The artist, who lives in Inscription Rock, Ariz., said he tries to capture different facial expressions based on a person's age. With youth, he aims "to proclaim determination," while older people tend to wear expressions of knowledge and wisdom. Tate paints warriors to express self-sacrifice and love for their people.
For the last five years, Tate has attended the Totah Festival, each year selling his graphic novel-inspired paintings and creating more images in the festival's down times. This year, he was among the more than 50 artists who set up booths at the Farmington Civic Center for the festival, which is now in its 26th year,
"The art show is always improving," Tate said of the festival's annual art competition.
Tate said his paintings are based on stories his parents told him.
"Being Navajo, a lot of our stories are verbal," he said. "I'm just giving an image for the stories."
In the festival's art competition, Farmington resident Joey Nakai won first place in sculpture for a metal cougar he welded using scrap metal.
"You got to reuse, you know," he told a woman admiring his work.
He described his sculptures as Western art, which often features animals like horses, buffalo, fish and deer.
"When I come across a new idea, I don't sleep," he said.
In the past, Totah Festival organizers have chosen a piece of art for the commemorative poster. But this year, the board decided not to produce a poster and opted instead to devote more of its time to other art aspects of the festival, such as the rug auction.
This year's rug auction featured 180 rugs, which is less than previous years, said Bart Wilsey, a Totah Festival board member and director of the Farmington Museum. Wilsey said a few trading posts did not submit rugs this year, which accounted for the smaller collect.
Wilsey said his favorite rug this year was a pictorial one depicting a trading post. He held the rug up to show off its complex design: people shopping at the trading post and a Coca Cola machine in the background. The details in the rug, Wilsey said, impressed him.
"You just don't really see these that much," he said. "Not like that."
For many people, the powwow portion of the festival is the highlight.
Denette Chee, of Table Mesa, performed the jingle dance, a type of dance in which the women wear jingle dresses that create a clinking sound as they move.
"I've been dancing since I could walk," she said, adding that she enjoys the feeling dancing gives her and it's a chance to be with family and friends.
The Navajo woman said powwows, like the one at the Totah Festival, keep Native Americans' culture and traditions alive.
Chee added that they also show children the importance of culture "so they can carry it on for their children, too."