Alex Maldonado is one of the several native artists that continues to be a driving force behind the success of the Prescott Indian Art Market. He was one of the artists who 23 years ago mapped out (on a restaurant napkin) the collective vision for an event that featured native art, not commercialized trinkets. That event, now the Prescott Indian Art Market, is considered one of the highest-quality native art markets in the United States today.
A Pasqua Yaqui, Maldonado balances his time between family, artwork, and performing his music. Beginning as a flute maker, he makes each flute sound as beautiful as it looks, winning awards for craftsmanship as well as musicality.
“In playing the flute and in creating my art, I feel a connection to my people. It’s one of the many victories in life knowing who you are and being proud of it,” he explains. He creates Yaqui harps, Pascola dancer carvings and masks, and gourd rattles used by Yaqui traditional dancers. He also makes native drums and artwork that are on display at museums across the nation.
His Pascola masks are handmade from various woods to resemble human faces or animals. Each mask has a unique design carved or painted into it and adorned with horse hair. Since each is created individually, no two are alike.
Whether performing with a handmade flute, showcasing his drum artistry, accompanying his family dancers, or making masks or flutes, Maldonado is a recognized artist of the Southwest and featured artist at this year’s Prescott Indian Art Market. He has also served on the Market’s jury and council, providing guidance for more than 150 artists annually at PIAM.
“It has been a labor of love,” he says, “not only creating my own art and performing the music of my people, but in encouraging others to pass the traditions on, from generation to generation, about the histories, heritage and cultures of our many ancestors.”
For a look at many of our PIAM artists, check out our online artist listings.