As seen in The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, February, 2004,
Since the 1970s there have been many serious collectors of not only
ancient but early
20th century Native American art and crafts. The polished, black, Pueblo
Maria and Julian Martinez, first made in 1919 , was widely collected.
Prices continue to
go up. However there is growing appreciation and collector interest in
Native American art and crafts. While some is done in the traditional
tribal way, many
artists are creating new interpretations. Even more important, unlike in
the past, there is
now name recognition.
Author/collector Dawn Reno has not only put a face on many of these
artisans and their work, but an evaluation in her new book “The Official
Price Guide to
Native American Art”, published by House of Collectibles.
As she recently told me, “ Many of today’s Native American artists use new
materials not usually associated with Indian artwork. And, they want to
cultural barriers and recognized simply as artists...not just Native
A surprising fact, cited by Reno, is that “if not for the tourist trade,
Art might still be confined to everyday objects and personal adornment. It
was only after
tribes were confined to reservations, did Native American families begin
of art that would be passed on to others.”
What first attracted Reno to Native American art were baskets and pottery.
was little or no information about the artists. Baskets for example
While pottery could be identified by tribal techniques and characteristic,
it wasn’t signed.
For example, Acoma, San Ildefonso, Zuni and Hopi Mesas still paint deer,
geometric designs and identifiable symbols of their villages onto their
techniques are also used. That led Reno to seek out contemporary artists
them as well as list the characteristics of their work. Potter B,J. Fragua
, one of the many
artists listed, combines traditional with contemporary techniques Her pots
recognized by their white backgrounds as well as painted recessed designs.
priced in Galleries from $250 to over a $1,000.
Another popular category is textiles, blankets and rugs. When early
examples come to
auction prices can be in the thousands of dollars. By their very nature of
have not survived. Best known are those made by the Southwestern Navajos.
points out their rug and blanket weaving is so distinctive that historians
have separated the styles into named periods. The other tribes wove, it is
the Navaho weaver who continues to work, often combining traditional with
“Most amateur collectors have absolutely no idea of the time and effort it
takes to make
one small rug or pottery bowl, “ said Reno. “The prices or values put on
pieces created by
native artists often result in their getting paid mere pennies per hour
for their work.”
CLUES: Most of the Native American artists continue to bring their works
to fairs where
they sell for a fraction of Gallery prices. “If you can contact the artist
personally that is
your best bet,” Reno told me. “This way you won’t get a factory piece that
is a reproduction of a known artist’s work. Consider quality pieces as a
Categories include art, baskets, beadwork, carving, dolls and Kachinas,
jewelry, pottery, sculpture, textiles, leather and a relatively new
category, sand painting.
There is a list of
galleries and museums representing the artists.
The book has so much
important information it is a must for any collector.