On a recent trip to Arizona, we had a chance to stop in Scottsdale and visit with Deb and Alston Neal, the owners of Territorial Indian Arts & Antiques Gallery (www.territorialindianarts.com). I had been eager to do so for a while, as I have received a lot of very helpful information and advice from Deb and Alston about some of the items in my gallery that I have been researching. They have been so gracious, helpful, and downright knowledgeable, that I wanted to stop by and meet them in person.
Their gallery has been in operation since 1969, actually started by Alston’s mother, who recruited young Alston to work in the gallery while he was still in grade school. He later took over the gallery from his mom, and Deb and Alston have been building quite an enviable reputation ever since.
The focus of this gallery is primarily vintage and antique works, which plays right into their strengths as expert appraisers of Native American arts on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow.
Even better, after spending some time with Deb and Alston in Scottsdale, they came to Ft. Worth last week to exhibit at Brian Lebel’s Old West Show and Auction. Michael and I stopped by and visited with them again, and learned once again how important networking is in this business. It seemed like everyone at the show knew Deb and Alston, and many made a point of stopping by to say hello. With over 200 dealers exhibiting everything from historic rifles and fancy saddles to Native American rugs, pottery, and other art forms, there were a lot of people and a lot of competition. Yet Deb and Alston made time for everyone who stopped by, whether competitor, collector, or just the mildly curious who sometimes wander into these types of shows.
Over the past few years, as Michael and I have traveled about the Southwest, we have had a chance to meet quite a few Native American artists, and have developed solid friendships with many of them. In addition, we have had a chance to talk with other gallery owners, and have found the majority of them to be quite helpful and friendly, even though they know we also have a gallery. There is so much to learn about this small slice of our American culture, and so many wonderful people who are willing to share their knowledge, that it sometimes takes away my breath. Those special moments of knowledge, or special friendships, are what life is all about, and I feel fortunate to be able to travel this path.