The day began late, with an appointment to meet a customer, who lives in Santa Fe, to deliver a lovely small pot by Alice Cling, Navajo. (You can see more of her fine pottery here. Click on Navajo pottery.)
The customer purchased on line just before we left for New Mexico. We offered to hand-deliver it at no cost since we knew we were going to be in Santa Fe within a week (not much longer than postal delivery time anyway). We arranged to meet in front of Hagen Daz on the plaza. Everyone knows where to find Hagen Daz. (Incidentally, we also offer personal delivery of any purchase of more than $200 value within 25 miles of our home base.)
A personal delivery and an ice cream cone later, we strolled through the plaza. A craft show was underway, featuring various local artists. We found some Christmas gifts of the non-Native variety. One for Bill, which he is using already. The rest of you will have to wait until December.
We did the portico walk at the Governor’s Palace. It was a little disappointing this day in terms of the number and quality of Native artists displaying, perhaps because of the craft show competition.
Next was a visit to Keshi, one of our favorite Santa Fe shops offering Native American artwork. Salvador Romero’s friend Susan McDuffy, who is also a novelist, works there part time. They also carry Salvador’s work, one of very few galleries other than ZuniLink that does so. We always like to stop in and look around.
While dealing in Native American art is highly competitive, we have felt from our beginning that the most important objective is to help customers find what they they are looking for. If that means collaborating with potential competitors and identifying an alternative source, we prefer to make it an operation that we know and trust.
From there we wander up Don Gaspar Street past the Monroe Gallery of Photography, which catches our eyes for its remarkable exhibit, “Speaking Truth to Power”. It is not tribal in subject matter, at least, not as we would define it, but but speaks to the human tribe through photographs by Alfred Eisenstadt, Gordon Parks, Eric Smith, and others. The images cover everything from Selma, Martin Luther King, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Nelson Mandela and funeral services for Americans who died in Iraq and were memorialized by the Patriot Riders in services in small Michigan towns. It is a very moving experience, about which we will blog separately.
A short stroll further up Don Gaspar, at the corner of San Francisco, is Andrea Fisher’s gallery. In our opinion, this is one of the most important collections of contemporary Native American pottery in the country. It is a crash course in the genre with some of the best pots by some of the most noteworthy potters of the pueblos, Navajo nation and Hopiland, plus an extensive showing of fine work from the Mexican Village of Mata Ortiz.
We noted work by many of the same potters who are represented at our online pottery site, Native-PotteryLink.
After that we drove up to Museum Hill to visit the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian and its Case Trading Post. One of the reasons we enjoy the Wheelwright is its very manageable size. Everything is historical and is displayed in a single room with a side gallery. The room is divided by partitions so that the focus is on an individual piece or group of pieces at any place in the room.
The Wheelwright tends to lean toward textiles in its items on display, although other historical pottery, carving and jewelry items are included.
The Case Trading Post also offers for sale authentic artwork by Native American artists, both the well-known and the budding. We always enjoy seeing the latest additions to their inventory and visiting with Rob, the manager, who has helped us many times when we were looking for a specific piece or information.
We look forward to the weekend of Indian market, when the Case will host several of these artists. We will report more then.
Finally, we stopped for an early supper at the French Café just off the lobby of the La Fonda de Santa Fe hotel. This is a pleasant little space offering its own French bread, dinner and desert crepes, sandwiches, coffee and, of course, French Onion Soup. Susanne ordered the latter with a house salad and I went for the chicken mushroom dinner crepe. All was more than satisfactory, and very affordable at less than $20 for the two of us, exclusive of wine, which is not offered.
We invite you to return to the blog often as we report on doings in Santa Fe during august and Indian Market.
William Ernest Waites is a free lance writer and a reporter in the field of Native American arts while also co-managing with his wife Susanne Waites, the online galleries at TribalWorks.com and Native-JewelryLIink.com