Alston and Deb Neal

Exhibiting at the Brian Lebel Old West Show in Santa Fe is a fun weekend for us to take the Rabbit on the road, and get to visit with people that we only see electronically over the years. Early Friday morning, we set up the booth and visited with the VIP guests that Brian and Melissa invite to the show. Saturday and Sunday, the visitors are quite an eclectic mix of locals, visitors to Santa Fe, and other exhibitors wandering about, looking at the displayed items. It is always enjoyable to share the amazing works of our Native American artists, and show people how the vintage items still hold a special allure, as well as the innovations being done in contemporary art.

One of the true pleasures of this show, however, is getting a chance to catch up with our fellow Gallery owners who are exhibiting. They include Deb and Alston Neal of Territorial Indian Arts, Mark and Linda Winter of the Toadlena Trading Post, and Jim and Bobbi Jeen Olson of the Western Trading Post. We’ve known them all for years, and make an attempt to drop in at their Galleries when we are in the area, but we never have enough time to visit and catch up. It is always great to learn more about their life stories and experiences, and share some of our stories as well. They have turned into dear friends over the years, and even though we carry some of the same items, we never think of them as competitors. In fact, if we don’t have something an individual is seeking, we don’t hesitate to give them a reference to our friends, as making sure the client gets exactly what they are seeking is extremely important to us.

Linda and Mark Winter

So for us, this weekend is a special treat. Deb had a birthday celebration on Saturday, and we all gave her a big hug. Bobbie Jeen and her son Rowdy are filming segments for their television show, and came by to interview us for one of their shows. After some hopefully not too serious editing, they should have a short piece that they will share on their show, and we will be able to share with you on this website as well.

Rowdy, Bobbi Jeen, and Jim Olson

One of the things that we really enjoy about our compadres is that we share a common desire – to educate and inform people about the special Native American culture and peoples here in the American Southwest. Our compadres have each built knowledge bases from long term interactions with not only the artists, but their families and communities as well. And it includes celebrating the individual cultures that create the rich mosaic of the Native Peoples, a story that goes back tens of thousands of years.

Other special friends who stop by and visit include local Gallery owners and artists who we only get a chance to see when we are in town. John Valdes and Everet Apodaca of Santa Fe Antiques came by earlier, and we always try to stop by their amazing store and shop when we are here in Santa Fe. Mert Kenyon of Pottery of the Southwest and Lyn Fox of Lyn Fox Fine Pottery stopped by to say hello, taking time from their own Galleries to come visit. We are also pleased when some of the artists we represent in our Gallery stop by and get a chance to see how we feature them in our Gallery on the road, in addition to in the cloud.

And of course, Dayton Simmons of Silver Day Trading, who is both an expert gemologist and my exclusive jewelry repair person, stopped by twice to see us – once on Saturday and once on Sunday.  He brought me some pieces that he had repaired – sometimes a broken stone that he matches with the others, or sometimes a loose bezel or rough spot that he cleans up – and his repair work is spectacular.

Sadly, we packed up on Sunday afternoon to take the Rabbit back to its abode in Southlake, eagerly awaiting the next opportunity we have to visit our friends and share some more stories and adventures. Each time we learn a little bit more, and each time we grow to appreciate these relationships even more. Some of the exhibitors stop by to say their goodbyes as we were packing, and every now and then a gift is exchanged. The memories will remain with us for a lifetime.

It is the same way with our Native American artists. Each time we have a chance to visit with them, we learn more about their lives and their cultures. That gives us a chance to build those lifetime relationships that we so cherish.

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