In this column we speak to leading galleries, auction houses and dealers to find out what’s happening in their world.
The expensive historic Pueblo pottery market has remained soft since the recession. Younger new collectors are more interested in signed contemporary pottery, which is often less costly. Now is an excellent time to acquire the old traditional jars. Because of the huge range of diversity and cost of Native American art, collectors come from all walks of life: teachers, construction workers, even law enforcement, plus your usual professionals like doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs.
Nampeyo’s work continues to be in demand as her reputation rises. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has recently acquired pieces by her for the American wing, and I expect other museums to follow suit which should add to her standing in American art. History shows she was an early American modernist, and that Native American art was a major component of the art world in the early decades of 1900.
Of course, I am bullish on the traditional Hopi potters, many of whom are Nampeyo descendants. Rachel Sahmie of Polacca, Arizona, has certainly raised her profile with her consistent hard work and high quality of her traditional pottery. In general, the Native American arts have remained steady through this rough patch in the economy. I think collectors will always be interested in good Native art foremost because it’s American. It’s part of our history. The concept of the frontier and the independence of Native Americans in part of our National character now. As more research establishes the proper place of Native American art in America’s history, I think we will continue to see Native American art move in the mainstream.
Because all art is universal in nature, I think the future of art will see more crossover between Native American art and contemporary Anglo artists. You can’t expect artists not to be influenced by all of the Native American art around them. Similarly, many Native American artists have drawn inspiration from contemporary Anglo artist. I think this mutual process of interaction will continue.
“Because of the huge range of diversity and cost of Native American art, collectors come from all walks of life.”
STEVE ELMORE, OWNER, STEVE ELMORE INDIAN ART