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Marin Show: Art of the Americas

Alice Kaufman | February 21st, 2014

New York City dealer Ross Traut, a known minimalist, was asking $8500 for this circa 1890 Navajo textile. He reported he’d sold “lots of small stuff” and that Marin show attendees had shown interest in “more important textiles.”

Dealer Jeff Voracek of Penryn, California (Sacramento/Reno, Nevada, area), was offering this 1865-68 Bosque Redondo blanket for $125,000. The entire Navajo tribe was imprisoned at Bosque Redondo, an Army post in eastern Texas, from 1863 to 1868, and Voracek said this blanket was woven there with the three-ply government-issued yarn supplied to weavers during their confinement. The other homespun yarns are dyed with indigo and natural dyes. Voracek said the best business opportunities for him were dealer-to-dealer “interactions,” thanks to which he would leave the show with “different material.”

This 1880s Delaware shoulder bag was priced at $40,000 at Portland, Oregon, dealer Arthur Erickson’s booth.

San Rafael, California

An upside of California’s drought was the beautiful weather for the 30th annual Marin Show: Art of the Americas, February 21-23, in San Rafael, California. Advertising and PR for the show were remarkable. On the weekend before the show, a striking color photograph of Charles Loloma jewelry promoting the show had the top spot in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Sunday entertainment/culture guide, a postcard for the show was inserted in the Sunday New York Times, and the show was all over social media.

The result was a good crowd, especially on Saturday, and the same approximate number—2200—as the year before. The number of dealers was down ten from 2013, however, and the difference was painfully obvious. Booths were large, aisles were wide, and about ten booths’ worth of floor space was taken up (beautifully) by dealer Mark Winter’s exhibit of Two Grey Hills rugs. One dealer said the show seemed “diminished” but added that it was “elevated” by Winter’s exhibit.

When the dealers arrived at their booths Saturday morning, they found a notice from show producer Kim Martindale announcing a dealers’ meeting that night. As soon as the meeting was announced, the rumors began: Is this the last Marin Show? (No.) Is the show moving to Los Angeles? (No.) Will the dealers exhibiting in the hallway be invited into the depopulated main showroom? (Maybe.) Will the contemporary dealers who are part of the show but exhibit in a separate building be invited into the main room instead? As well? (Maybe.)

But Martindale wanted to talk about the future of the show as part of a larger picture, the future of the American Indian art business (“our industry”). He asked for suggestions—then and there and/or later, after consideration—for how to “work together to make it stronger. I wanted to find out what they thought and felt,” Martindale said, and find out he did. Dealers were mostly positive—“very positive”—and Martindale is sending a follow-up questionnaire to dealers that will address the rumors and ask for feedback.

“I think we are turning a corner,” Martindale told M.A.D. “Sales at the show were up this year and last year.” But what Martindale calls the antique American Indian art community is getting older, both dealers and collectors, and Martindale wants input on how to find younger people to fill both roles. “We need help to spread the word. How to proceed is difficult,” he said.

Some of those rumors might turn out to be true, but not the ones about the show disappearing. “There will definitely be a show in San Rafael next year and for many years after that. Even if I don’t make money, it is important to continue the tradition.”

And to Martindale the tradition includes a “pure” antique American Indian art show in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in August. “Having a show devoted only to antique Indian art is not a new concept,” he continued. “We all need to help spread the word. That is the goal of the new Santa Fe show.”

Martindale’s Antique American Indian Art Show opens at El Museo Cultural in Santa Fe on August 19 and runs for two more days. The 31st annual Marin Show: Art of the Americas will take place February 20-22, 2015. For more information, see (

Portland, Oregon, dealer Natalie Linn called this Klamath gambling tray “rare” because it was woven with both porcupine and bird quills. The circa 1900 basket with the “finest weave” was priced at $18,500 at Linn-Tucker Indian Baskets.

A selection of Plains Indians dolls dating 1880-1900 and ranging in price from $1000 to $3500, from tribes including the Cheyenne, Sioux, Arapaho, and Nez Perce, was displayed at Last Stand Gallery, Sparta, Missouri. Dealer Reggie Roberts said he’d had “lots of questions from a great crowd.”

This Navajo single-figure Yei design rug was priced at $6200 by Transitional Arts Trading Co., Prescott, Arizona. The rug had been purchased in 1950 at the Sheep Springs Trading Post on the Navajo reservation, and a photograph of the original owner holding the rug in front of the post was published in Weaving the West: Cowboy and Indian Imagery in Navajo Textiles.

Mill Valley, California, dealer Ari Maslow of Westside Trading Post was continuing a tradition and business of selling baskets started by his mother, Sandra Horn. This very large (32" diameter) Yokut gambling tray woven circa 1925 by Mrs. Dick Francisco was priced at $450,000. Maslow said the show had been “great as far as attendance and sales. We are teaching people to live with the art.

The 1880s Kiowa girl’s dress and moccasins were priced at $38,000 at Mystic Warriors, Evergreen, Colorado.

Originally published in the June 2014 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2014 Maine Antique Digest

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