Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That is why objective measures of art are so difficult, and so meaningless. Beauty is what speaks to you, deep in your soul. This is what draws me to certain art, and styles of certain artists, more than others. While I grew up with Native American art from the Southwest, my husband grew up with classical French and Italian art. Both are elegant in their own way, but the Native American art calls to my soul as does Michael’s preferences calling to his.
So how do we go about gathering those beautiful pieces of art to us? Some people select a theme or color, such as those who collect “cowboy art.” Others look to specific media, like pottery, paintings, bronzes, or other media. Some gather art from specific artists, as their preference falls in the style of those artists. Others may just gather pretty things, art that makes them happy.
There is no proper way to go about this process. We all have the freedom to gather art as our taste and budget dictates. As a gallery owner, I have tried to use several themes in building my collections. These may work for you, and they may not. No worries – do what makes you happiest.
My first theme is to look for art that speaks to me. Not necessarily that which will be more readily sold, but that which I am happy to look at each day in my gallery. Art that touches my soul is my first preference.
Following this theme, I look to specific artists whose work I adore. Painters like David Dewangyuptewa, bronze sculptors like Kim Obrzut, stone carvers like Jeff Shetima, potters like Dominique Toya, Erik Fender, Samuel Manymules, and Anderson Peynetsa, silversmiths like Tommy Singer and Kee Yazzie Jr., and many others, all fall in this category. Their works are the most precious in my collections, and in my humble opinion represent the highest and best examples of Native American art from the Southwest. I will be featuring some of these collections in upcoming blogs, and sincerely hope that some of what I feature will stir an interest in each of you about Native American art and the fantastic artists we are fortunate to have among our Native American family.
Another theme is one of family lineages. My mother and grandmother started me down this path, not only collecting but forming life-long relationships with some of the matriarch potters in the New Mexico pueblos. Potters like Maria Martinez, Ivan and Rita Lewis, and Margaret Tafoya were among their friends, and were recognized over time as some of the leading potters in the American Southwest. It has been my pleasure to follow up with that start, building relationships and collecting pottery from families like the Rollers, who learned at the feet of their maternal grandmother and great-grandmother, Margaret Tafoya. Over the coming months, I will also try to feature some of these lineages in upcoming blogs, as the skills and talent seems to transfer from generation to generation, and the traditions are continued and artistry improved.
And finally, one theme that comes back to me again and again is that of the stories that each piece of art contains. The photography of Debbie Lujan, evoking the thousand-year-old Taos pueblo and its continuing history; the pottery of Bobby Silas and Tim Edaakie, bringing back the traditional patterns of ancient Hopi and Zuni potters; the fetishes of Katerie Sanchez, showcasing corn maidens and owls in her striking work – all these Native American artists have stories of hard work and success behind each of their works of art, and knowing these stories brings their art to life much more for me.
Yes, beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. I hope to bring you more stories and more pictures highlighting the art that I find beautiful, and continue to celebrate the amazing artists and art found in our own American Southwest among the Native American communities.