The Idaho Commission on the Arts has awarded eight master artists and their qualified apprentices $3,000 each as part of the annual Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program. The program is designed to facilitate learning partnerships between a recognized master artist and an apprentice to continue artistic traditions in a shared community. The 2020 TAAP grants awardees include practitioners in Flamenco, Korean, and Mexican dancing; leatherworking, gun engraving and saddlemaking; Nez Perce tule weaving and Japanese Taiko.

For 26 years, the Arts Commission has safeguarded Idaho’s unique cultural legacy with more than 365 Idaho native, folk, and immigrant master artists, and their apprentices, who carry on Idaho’s artistic and occupational traditions and skills. The Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program supports master artists to teach their skills and knowledge to motivated learners to perpetuate a valued community tradition. Managed by Folk and Traditional Arts Director Steven Hatcher, the program provides direct funding to master practitioners to enhance and elevate skills and preserve cultural continuity in occupational, ethnic, or familial communities.

FLAMENCO DANCE María del Mar Moreno (Jerez de la Frontera, Spain) and Estefanía Sanchez (Boise)
“Flamenco acts as a glue that bonds my cultural heritage and community together. Even when language or cultural differences create barriers or walls, music and dance become the unified language, it allows us to understand each other as human beings… Furthermore, in its homeland, Flamenco is a way of life, an everyday occurrence, a learned tool in the art of self-expression. Bringing this self-expression to the community of Boise, allows me to celebrate my family’s heritage while teaching others how to emote and express themselves in healthy, safe ways.”
Estefanía Sanchez

LEATHERWORKING Ryan Carpenter (Owyhee, Nevada) and Monte Cummins (Riddle)
“Monte has been a part of Cristi’s and my life for the past 9 years. He just walked over from his grandmother’s house one summer day and asked if we needed help rolling bales—he has been around ever since. During that time, he has grown into a hardworking, enthusiastic young man who wants to be a rancher when he grows up. Monte started working in the shop with me when he was about 10, just stamping on leather and learning how to stamp straight lines… He has a great desire to learn hands-on skills and has the ability to become an excellent leather worker. This opportunity would give Monte a chance to take his skills to the next level and provide him with the ability to eventually make a living or supplement any future endeavors.”
Ryan Carpenter

GUN ENGRAVING Dean Philbrick (Irwin) and Casey Backus (Ammon)
“I began working with leather at the age of 10. Over the years I learned to make cowboy horse gear as well as other leather goods, and I consistently worked to improve the quality of the items I produced. By age 22, I began to include braided horsehair and rawhide in the items I made. Wanting to further improve my work, occasionally I would include engraved silver, but it wasn’t until I learned to produce the engraved silver myself that I had the freedom to create new and unique pieces… The discussions I have had with Dean have indicated to me that he has a strong ability to teach. Dean is recognized as a master engraver by the (Firearms Engravers) Guild, and certainly someone that can teach me a lot.” –Casey Backus

SADDLEMAKING Chase Carter (Pingree) and Randy Hickman (Blackfoot)
“I grew up ranching horseback, riding on roundups as early as age three. I began making saddles for Breyer model horses at about five, then making chaps and other small tack items during grade school, and then custom orders began in junior high. Through the grace of this same program, I was able to apprentice with Kent Frecker in 2004 and have been building custom saddles ever since. Dale Harwood has been generous in helping me when needed and critiquing my work often. I specialize in the ‘Wade style’ saddle unique to the Great Basin and extremely functional for the working cowboys of the West.” –Chase Carter

KOREAN DANCE Jiwon Lee (Boise) and Micha Chon (Meridian)
“It is important for me to teach Ms. Chon and Boise Choi Sun Korean Dance Group because we enjoy Korean traditional dance and take pride in presenting and sharing Korean culture with the Boise community. In addition, we gain energy and vigor to our daily life through exercising and practicing Korean dance together, two or three times a week… We share Korean heritage and are members of the Korean community in Boise, Meridian, and Nampa.” –Jiwon Lee

MEXICAN DANCE Norma Pintar (Meridian) and Jayf Ebert (Nampa)
“I met Jayf when his mom used to bring her daughter Pepita to my dance class; he was a baby and I have seen him grow up. We have known each other for 16 years; he is my former student of the Hispanic Folkloric Dancers of Idaho dance group in Nampa. He started to dance at the age of 5. It is absolutely necessary for me to teach Jayf since we need a male role model in my community that inspires more boys, especially youth and children, to like dancing and continue our Mexican traditions and pass them to new generations.”–Norma Pintar

NEZ PERCE TULE WEAVING Jenny Williams (Lapwai) and Lydia McCloud (Lapwai)
“My introduction to weaving came while visiting the Nez Perce National Historical Park. Several elder Nez Perce women were displaying their work and I was overwhelmed by the beauty. I wanted to learn the art, but few elders were willing to teach; even my own grandmother did not know how, so I taught myself. I learned the basics of the warp and the weft, simple designs, how to weave both round and flat bags, and how and when to gather the natural fibers. After learning the basics, I began studying with master weavers from around the northwest. I enjoy weaving with pine needles, cedar bark, bear grass, and other traditional grasses. I have learned the art of gathering and processing Dog Bain (hemp) twine, which was the traditional material used to weave cornhusk to create baskets, hats, and bags for storing roots and berries. Weaving has been my passion for more than 25 years and I believe it is critical to pass on this tradition to those who want to learn.” –Jenny Williams

JAPANESE TAIKO (DRUMMING) Kristina McGaha (Meridian) and Ellen Burnell (Boise)
“Taiko has no formal, universal sheet music; it is all passed-down orally. To learn taiko in a comprehensive manner and retain the cultural associations of the artform, you have to be taught in apprenticeship form. The apprentice and I come from similar cultural backgrounds. I am part Japanese, part white. I learned taiko as a child because I had a keen interest in preserving my cultural heritage. The apprentice shares the same passion to learn and share taiko… At the end of the apprenticeship, the apprentice will be able to exhibit fundamental taiko knowledge, specifically its historic roots, cultural ties, and terminology. She will be able to play four songs with the ensemble group as the lead player. The apprentice will also learn two folk dances, ondo, that are commonly performed or associated with taiko. Finally, the apprentice will begin composing their own taiko songs through the improv exercises at each practice session.”
Kristina McGaha