Litchfield Park Gathering Native American Festival coming this weekend

Tucson artist’s work selected for official event poster


The artwork of Tucson artist Gabriel Ayala was chosen for the official Litchfield Park Gathering Native American Festival.

Mr. Ayala has earned nationwide accolades for his classical guitar performances both in concert and for his three albums.

He has broken stereotypes among Native and Non-Native people not just for performing classical music, but also by playing jazz, flamenco and new compositions of his own. Mr. Ayala has performed for Pope Benedict, President Obama and even Willie Nelson and has shared the stage with legendary groups The Four tops, The Temptations, Richie Havens and Dr. John, among others.

But his creative skills translate as well for the eyes as they do for the ears.

In addition to being the headline performer for this year’s Litchfield Park Gathering Native American Festival Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 11-12 in the center of town, Mr. Ayala’s watercolor ledger art titled “Storyteller” has been selected as the official artwork for the two-day festival. Copies of the poster will be available for sale at the festival and online at Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

Free public parking is available in the gravel lot just east of City Hall (214 W. Wigwam Blvd.) at Desert Ave., as well as at the Litchfield Park Library (101 W. Wigwam Blvd.) and Litchfield Park Recreation Center (100 S. Old Litchfield Road) lots. Enter both lots off of Desert Ave. Overflow parking also available in the north lot of Litchfield Elementary School (255 E. Wigwam Blvd.).

More than 100 Native American artists representing tribal affiliations from across the nation will bring diverse, hand-made original artwork to the 28th annual invitation-only event.  The Gathering continues a tradition of celebrating Native American heritage through the arts with active teaching, demonstrations and presentations throughout the weekend.

Mr. Ayala, a member of the Yaqui people of southern Arizona, earned a Master’s Degree in Music Performance from the University of Arizona and performs regularly across the country. He has appeared at the Poway Center Performing Arts, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and National Museum for the American Indians, among other venues.

His talent and achievements were recognized as one of ten musicians featured in Vincent Schilling’s book, “Native Musicians in the Groove.”

As he travels, he advocates for education for all youth, instilling his values of living a traditional lifestyle while abstaining from alcohol, drugs and tobacco. He believes in leading children in the right direction through his philosophy, “love your children, honor your elders and respect your women.”

There is no admission charge to The Gathering. Artist booths will line Old Litchfield Road south of Wigwam Blvd. as well as across the lawn of the Litchfield Park Library, and on the nearby Gazebo lawn. 

The Gathering features artists and artisans displaying and selling diverse artwork including traditional and contemporary beadwork, clothing, jewelry, paintings and prints, pottery, sculptures and weaving, basketry, carvings and glass art. Cultural Arts will be reflected in classical guitar, clothing and Navajo rugs, quilts, rock art, Wampum shells, bows and arrows, sand art, rattles and fetish carvings.

Other musicians joining Ayala on stage at The Gathering include flutist Tony Duncan and guitarist Darrin Yazzie, the Kehewin Native Dance Theatre and Artificial Red. Other performances during the weekend include hoop dancing by Tony Duncan and the Sinquah Family Dance Troupe.

The Gathering also will feature a continuous showing of the documentary Native Art Now that examines the evolution of Native contemporary art over the last 25 years.

A pre-Festival reception featuring winners of the artist competition and entertainment is scheduled from 6-7:30 p.m. at The Wigwam. Advance-sale tickets are $10 and can be purchased online through Eventbrite or at the Litchfield Park Recreation Center.  Tickets at the door are $15.

The Gathering is presented by the City of Litchfield Park with funding, in part, from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Arizona Office of Tourism and The Wigwam, as well as cooperation from the Heard Museum and the West Valley Arts Council.