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”.

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