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Purchase Story

American Indian Art Show/Marin

Alice Kaufman | February 19th, 2017

San Rafael, California

Colorado dealer Steve Begner praised producer Kim Martindale for “getting the crowd out.” As a Bay Area resident, I found ads and promotions for the 33rd annual American Indian Art Show/Marin, held February 17-19, unavoidable. Was this different from past years?

“Completely,” said Martindale. “We had a lot more ads, especially because they were combined with ads for the San Francisco Tribal and Textile show,” another Martindale production, held one week before the Marin Indian show. Martindale hopes to design a Bay Area arts week between the two shows, and he is talking with Bonhams to create an auction geared to tribal and Native American dealers and collectors held the same week.


Arthur Erickson of Portland, Oregon, said that he and Jack Curtright, who always share a booth at this show, “sold mostly to dealers, which is always our trade. We like to buy locally.” This circa 1850 Delaware bandolier bag with a bullet hole was priced at $38,000. It had been collected in Texas after a battle.


At the booth of Curtright and Son Tribal Art, Tacoma, Washington, this 58" wide Chilkat robe, 1890-1900, was priced at $50,000.

Martindale said there was “nothing super different” about this year’s Marin show, and he pointed out that this show and his Antique American Indian Art Show in Santa Fe in August remain “the one or two times a year you can see a lot of historic Indian material, material that is unique every year.”

After talking with exhibitors, Martindale said that there were more people at the 2017 show buying in the $50 to $8000 price range, prices that were especially appealing to new buyers, who were well represented. Although attendance at the preview opening was up from last year, attendance for the show was about the same as last year.


Steve Elmore of Santa Fe, New Mexico, said this was his “strongest show in Marin in three or four years” and that showgoers were interested in “unusual items.” He added, “Collectors are willing to spend again.” This circa 1890 11" tall x 12" diameter Acoma four-color bird jar from a Buffalo, New York, estate was tagged $16,500.


At the booth of Territorial Indian Arts and Antiques, Scottsdale, Arizona, this Tubatulabal basket, circa 1920, ex-McLeod collection and ex-Sargent collection, 7" tall x 15" diameter, was priced at $14,000. Territorial’s Alston Neal said the show “has gone very well,” and that jewelry was the strongest category.

That was not so for exhibitors—Martindale said that the show was “down by about ten dealers” and that some didn’t exhibit because of health issues. Other former exhibitors could be seen shopping the show, buying and selling.

When asked whether he thinks the show format is still viable, he replied, “It’s crucial for the art world. Once someone is familiar with the pieces, they can view them online. But art needs to be seen in person, and shows allow that. Seeing an image is not the same as seeing a work of art.” Shows, he continued, are also “a gathering” of like-minded people and places to “discuss and share ideas.” Antiques shows, he added, are “struggling, but there are more art shows.”


New York City dealer Ross Traut was asking $6500 for this 32" x 52" circa 1957 Navajo pictorial rug. Traut reported that he “sold a couple of pieces off the wall,” and that the “high-quality” attendees were “knowledgeable” and interested in and full of questions about his more unusual weavings.

The 2018 Marin show is scheduled for February 16-18. For more information on the Marin show, see (www.marinshow.com), and for the other shows that Martindale produces and coproduces with John Morris, go to (www.objectsofartsantafe.com).

Barry Walsh of Holden, Massachusetts, said on Sunday afternoon that “the show just turned really good.” He was asking $2500 for this Hopi koshare (clown) kachina, 13" tall, by master carver (especially of clowns) Jimmie Koots (1916-1996). Walsh said the show “exceeded last year’s performance, and I’m glad to be a part of it. Sales of jewelry and kachinas were strong.”


At the booth of Sundance, Redding, California, this 1950s beaded purse, Yakima, Oregon, cost $1700. Baskets were selling well. The dealer said, “California baskets are the best woven baskets from anywhere in the U.S. It was once easy to find plentiful materials to weave with, but now it is difficult.”


Susan Swift of Santa Fe, New Mexico, priced this circa 1890 Crow or Cree smoked deer hide scout jacket, “with a beautiful combination of colors of beads,” at $3200.


Originally published in the May 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest

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