Sunday, February 27, 2011

One New York designer gets Native American art; why don’t the rest of us?

Sunday’s struggle on the stationary bike was worse than usual thanks to last night’s enchilada overload at my favorite Tucson restaurant El Charro. Sunday mornings are a ritual, sleeping in late, working out and reading the New York Times while riding the bike. Like life, some days are harder than others and today’s was hard.

At least it’s Oscar weekend and even the pain of an expanding belt line couldn’t take away from the morning’s awaited paper. Undoubtedly there would be numerous stories on fashion and fame at its most extreme.

I decided on starting with the epitome of Oscar fantasy, the Times style section. The first few pages were as hoped, Oscar gowns, gossip and the authoritative prediction of the night’s winners and losers. As I turned the slightly sweat stained pages my pace slowed and I became engrossed. Suddenly I was brought from Hollywood right back to Tucson all care of the New York Times by a tasteful ad by Ralph Lauren on pages 8 -9. An expensive two-page spread of fashion and home design. Interspersed in the ad, between a young model and Lauren home design, were 20 pieces (I did count) of vintage Native American art. The images included Navajo rugs from the Crystal trading post, banded Navajo blankets, a large Pima Olla, Mono and Tohono O’odom baskets. I was brought home when I was expecting only the razzle and dazzle of L.A.

A New Yorker’s insight into what was supposed to be cool and hip brought me back unexpectedly to my own business and inspiration, Native American art.

Lauren, never afraid of being a dictator of taste, has stayed true to his aesthetics of what it means to be American and still have original style. Lauren has consistently included Native arts in his world. It’s a shame that more of us that live in the West aren’t as perceptive when it comes to collecting. Of late I have heard the drum beat of dealers in our profession, lamenting collectors are getting older, the kids don’t want it, and it’s all about the contemporary art scene.

These are valid points, yet some how a New Yorker like Lauren can dismiss these nay Sayers with a single ad. He still sees the value and uniqueness of Native American arts in the most modern of settings and cultural happenings. A vision, which has not waivered on what, makes art and design in his mind’s eye.

I also still love seeing a great blanket or kachina added to my home’s surroundings. My love for Native inspiration still burns and hopefully these objects will also touch my children and not just during Oscar week.

I encourage you, while watching the Oscars and litany of magazines boasting fashion of the rich and famous, to make sure and look for Native inspiration. I know if Ralph Lauren has anything to say about it you’ll find it somewhere, because he gets it. So thanks Ralph. You extended my bike ride by an extra 15minutes as I digested your take on the world and it was just as good as El Charro’s green enchiladas!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Santa Fe's Canyon Road Galleries Become a Force

Santa Fe’s Canyon Road galleries Become a Force

The Canyon Road Area Merchants have banded together to support and promote one the most historic roads in America Canyon Road. With a hundred galleries located in distance of just less than a mile, it has to be one of the great confluences of artwork in America. The newly formed Canyon Road gallery associations mission is to promote knowledge of the road, its art and history.

The artwork is as varied as the people who visit. Over Christmas I did a television interview in my Canyon Road Gallery for a Japanese television program which was focused on Canyon Road. There are numerous wonderful contemporary art galleries such as Selby Fleetwood and McLarry Modern, which can be found on the road intermixed with more traditional galleries like Medicine Man Gallery and Tresa Vorenberg Goldsmiths.

McLarry Modern, Photograph by

Many of the galleries are in historic residences one occupied by local artists, and other prominent Santa Feans. Surviving farmhouses from the Spanish period include the Juan Jose Prada home (519 Canyon Road, now a private residence), which was built as early as 1768. El Zaguan, at 545 Canyon Road, was originally a two or three-room house with adobe walls four feet thick. It was enlarged in the mid-nineteenth century by James L. Johnson, a prominent merchant of the old Santa Fe Trail, to contain 19 rooms and courtyard gardens. Now home of the Historic Santa Fe Foundation, several rooms of El Zaguan are open to the public.

The Canyon Road Merchants will be bringing together varied arts, restaurants, and historic residences to celebrate this most unique place in America. To follow the activities of Canyon Road you can visit, the one stop website for activities on Canyon Road and Santa Fe.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Google’s Art Project where’s the Beef?

You might think from this title I feel less than enchanted with Googles new ambitious art driven technology the Art Project, , which is not the case. The melding of technology with art is something I not only believe is the natural progression of our business and love but exciting to see. Google’s Art Project is an ambitious and worthwhile effort that will give me one more reason not to sell art but simply enjoy it. Here’s the beef: Where is the beef?, or for that matter the cowboy or the Indian? If you want Native American imagery you are much more likely to see an actual Indian painting which is not Native American. The reason for this oversight is the views of those at Google seem to be that real art is either east coast or from one of the major European museums, not western.

I for one am taken back by the amazing imagery of a Whistler painting (there are dozens)

I can even look at his impressive frames for inspiration. Yet not seeing the nostril of a bucking bronco at close range or the cloud formations of a Dixon painting down to the last brush stroke leaves me wanting more. So Google, I like a good piece of art as much as anyone does, but “Where’s the Beef?”

An interesting online western experience can be found at the Phoenix Art Museum’s newly completed web page of Western American art, a collection worthy of Google’s attention.

A comprehensive collection of both living and deceased chroniclers of the west. Including such standouts as Maynard Dixon, Howard Post, Ed Mell and Robert Henri. If your hungry for western masters there’s plenty of tasty examples for the most discriminating palate.

Howard Post, San Tan Valley, Permanent Collection Phoenix Art Museum
Museum purchase Western Art Associates 2010
Image courtesy of Howard Post

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Artist Representaion:Finding the Right Gallery

Artist Representation: Finding the Right Gallery or any Gallery….

It’s a rare a day when an artist doesn’t contact our gallery and ask if we can look at their portfolio or make recommendations of a good gallery that might be interested in handling their work. For the record, after all this is an Art Dealer Diary blog, my gallery has been about keeping a very small stable of what we consider exceptional artists. When our gallery agrees to represent an artist, it’s because we have been following their career for along time in print, at shows, or online. It’s rarely a cold call from an artist, although it does indeed happen but for our gallery it’s definitely not the norm.

Most gallery owners do not like artists to cold call as they are busy during the business day taking care of clients and making sales for artists they currently represent. You run the risk of the gallery not having adequate time to evaluate your work as their attention is needed elsewhere and you, the artist, might feel there is a negative attitude when it’s simply a lack of time. If the owner or manager does take the time its usually going to be under a time constraint; you’re not doing your self any favors in case they do like your work.

As an artist looking for representation, I think you should first find out if the gallery you’re interested in representing you is accepting new artists; many art galleries are not. If they are interested then ask to make an appointment, if they aren’t accepting new artists , I still feel it’s ok to send an email with a link to your website. Art gallery owners always enjoying looking at art. Don’t send too many individual images the owner has to plow through. Instead send a short well composed email with an introduction, a few of your best images and a link to your website should they wish to see additional work.

If you are serious about being an artist that makes sales, you MUST have a website. I plan on discussing this subject in greater detail in future blogs but here are the salient points: your site should have something about you, your career and an image gallery of your best work, including a section showing what you have actually sold; this let’s the gallery and collectors know someone is buying your work.

Keep the site clean, no flash software, and easy to navigate. (I personally don’t like anything site I have to skip an intro or figure out how to get to the information I’m interested in.) I do love music but not when I didn’t ask for any. You’re better off to spend time making sure your art is well illustrated and images are large enough to see.

Finally a word to those looking for representation. Do look to the Internet as it will provide you the best exposure for the least money. Remember this doesn’t excuse you from having a personal art website. A couple of art web sites that can help give you very good Internet exposure are and

ArtUFind is great because the site takes no commissions and you can list art with a simple Basic Membership, which costs $15/month. has a unique option for artists seeking new gallery representation. The “Gallery wanted” option is straightforward and lets galleries browse the site at their leisure and see what might be out there. Remember all galleries have certain niche artists they are looking to add to their stable. ArtUFind has broad exposure with over 250 different art websites feeding the main site which represent many of the major cities of the world, so the exposure is outstanding. It also has a well-designed easy to use search function for artwork. is another website which allows artists to put up their own studio for a monthly fee. Askart is not as inexpensive as ArtUFind but is still reasonable for what you get. AskArt’s main web function is for dealers and collectors to search auction records and for galleries to sell and find artwork. It also has a nice feature for artists. You can submit your own biography to be included in their extensive 110,000-artist database and they have a large audience that visits the site.

The bottom-line, if you’re an artist looking for that perfect gallery to help raise your career to new heights do realize you have to participate. Develop a website, have professional photos of your work taken, make appointments (don’t just walk in with your portfolio) and above all promote yourself while you are waiting for that dream gallery to come knocking on YOUR door.



Sunday, February 6, 2011

Native American Art Dealers Ahead of the Pack

The New York Times Sunday edition has a wonderful article on the Denver Art Museum and their forward thinking by recognizing early Native American Artists in their newly renovated Native Arts floor.

Reading the article I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself for a major museum this might be a revolutionary concept but for those of us who sell and collect early Native American material these artists and art pieces have always been highly coveted whether it’s a pot by the famous Hopi artist Nampeyo,

or a Navajo weaving by master weaver Daisy Tauglechee.

Native American Art Dealers have long been curators of identifying and recognizing early Native American art and the unique artists who created them. We always understood these people are true artists in every sense of the word and recognize a continued effort should be made to preserve their art as well as to recognize and celebrate their creativity.

One outstanding example of someone who is doing just that is the Native American art dealer Mark Winter who has devoted the last fifteen years to identifying the makers of early Two Grey Hills/ Toadalena textiles. These weavers have been largely labeled as “unknown artist,” a practice soon to be corrected. Mark Winter’s comprehensive book on the subject will soon be out for all of us to enjoy and celebrate these artists’ remarkable achievements. An exhibit at the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe based on Mark’s research and collecting is on display through April 17th. I encourage you to visit the show; you won’t be disappointed. The exhibit identifies weavings by individual artist and/or Clan and the display and lighting does justice to the textiles, which are exhibited as pieces of fine art.

I would encourage you to visit Mark Winter at the Toadalena Trading Post, which is just North of Gallup where you can usually find him located behind the counter listening to one of the grandmother weavers explaining the symbols of her weavings. I’m glad to know we can now officially stop calling them “unknown” and refer to them by their names and proper title “master artist”.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

An Art Dealer's Diary

Why an art dealer diary? If you are looking for inner secrets of life as an art dealer perhaps you will get a glimpse; I have never kept a diary, much less a blog, so I don’t know what to expect. What I do hope to accomplish is to share my world: what I feel and experience during my daily routine as an art dealer along with interesting articles, websites, and updates that peak my curiosity.
The fact I’m writing this blog is my first comment on the current trend of the art world. The direction I believe all artists and galleries should be heading toward is technology, content, and communication. I invite you to check out Medicine Man Gallery’s’ Facebook, site a place for sneak previews of art and special images that excite my own artistic aesthetics. I also encourage readers to leave comments on my blog as this adds to my own understanding of what is of interest or not.
With this first official entry I’m now a blogger, embracing the 21st century and sharing the inner sanctum of what it means to be an art dealer. Now it’s off to answer another email; that’s what art dealers really do….

Strategies For The Beginning Art Collecter Part 1