First Priority: Buy Art that Raises Questions and Makes You Think

The Other First Priority: Buy Native American or First Nations Art

Or maybe I got those in the wrong order

The official “market” part takes place on the streets on Saturday and Sunday, but people began gathering in town in the early part of this week. More artists, curators, scholars, writers, filmmakers, educator, non-profit employees, grantors, community organization representatives, art fans, skateboarders, clothing designers, reporters, bloggers, and socializers, arrive each day. Most everyone is a collector, too, even if we don’t always see ourselves that way. For example, I don’t know a single artist who doesn’t own work by other artists. Sometimes the works were acquired by trade, gifted, or purchased with cash. If you’re a collector not sure what to buy and want something that is “quality” art, look at what artists acquire from each other. What do artists tend to buy from each other? Scale is often a factor. Most artists don’t  have a huge amount of space unless they have been wildly successful. Room to display/store artworks, the likelihood of having to make frequent moves, all factor into the choices we make about what to collect. From casual discussions with artists, I hear that we usually buy pieces that are smaller in scale for exactly those reasons. Anyone who can “go big,” should, of course. Over the past year, I’ve steered a number of casual conversations with artists in the direction of what they themselves have collected from other artists.

SWAIA would prefer we spend all our art dollars inside the confines of the official Indian Market booths, for a number of reasons. From remarks at a series of public talks held at Collected Works Bookstore over the past few weeks, it is clear that there are still a large number of touristy shops (about 60!) in the vicinity of the plaza that claim to be selling “Native American” work but aren’t. Their prices are terribly low and it’s because the jewelry, pots, tchotchkes, etc., are made overseas, usually mass-produced. Some dealers from outside the region also set up trunk-show-type events. In these cases, the money spent on the art doesn’t benefit Native artists, and usually leaves the region or the country entirely. First priority: Buy Native American or First Nations. The Other First Priority, Buy Something that Raises Questions and Makes You Think, is a good piece of advice for art collecting in general. I heard Dorothy and Herbert Vogel speak about their collection of minimalist and conceptualist art years ago. Their story is very interesting; a librarian and a postal service employee in New York city managed to acquire an amazing collection of art over the years and they did it on a budget, buying directly from artists, sometimes in installments. They had a general guideline that the work had to fit into a taxi. The couple donated their collection of over 4000 works of art to the National Gallery of Art in 1992. In 2008, they started a program which donated 50 works to a museum in each of the fifty states. I attended a public talk by the Vogels at the Portland Art Museum in 1997. When they were asked what advice they would give aspiring collectors, Herbert Vogel said people should buy what they like. The couple with the enormously valuable collection advised people not to buy an artwork as an investment, but because they like the art and want to live with it. Their advice made sense to me. If it doesn’t go up in value, at least you can enjoy looking at the artwork and thinking about it for years to come.

Well over a thousand artists are in Santa Fe this week. There is an amazing diversity of kinds of art available. Some of the art is about experience and cannot be purchased at all: performances of music and dance, live paint events, temporary public art, performance art and performance poetry, and free film screenings. We can live with the memories. Other art is work you can take home much more literally, as jewelry, pottery, sculpture, clothing, basketry, textiles, paintings, drawings, photographs. You can take home work that speaks about the past and the future, happiness and sadness, anger and acceptance, wealth and poverty, silliness and seriousness, facts and fictions, boredom and fear, love and hope.

“Zombie Skins: Salon a Vie Morte” opening on Wednesday, August 15, 2012

So Many Artists in One Place

The artists with booths at Indian Market are required to remain in their booths while their booths are open. That makes for a long, tiring day, with no opportunity to visit with other artists during the actual event. Group shows with openings at other venues in the days leading up to market are one way that artists have been making sure they have chances to get together and see each other’s work. Two notable examples of this are the Zombie Skins: salon de la vie mort exhibition and Low Rez: Native American Lowbrow Art. The zombie-themed exhibition is located in the studio of artist America Meredith, who kindly made space available for work by more than twenty artists. Zombie Skins is on exhibition through August 19th, 2012 and is open from 2pm-6pm each day. It is operating something like an artists’ collective, with artists sharing in gallery-sitting duties at 2889 Trades West #E (just off of Siler near Cerillos. It’s an industrial space at the back of the row.) The Low Rez exhibition is at Eggman and Walrus at 131 W. San Francisco. The opening is Friday, Aug 17 from 5:30-9pm. The work will be on exhibit through September 1st. Some of the artists in these two shows also have booths at Market. Here is a handy graphic:

 

Artists in Low Rez: Jamison Chas Banks, Nani Chacon, Brent Greenwood, Amber Gunn Gauthier, April Holder, Topaz Jones, Randy Kemp, Linda Lomahaftewa, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Daniel McCoy, Jr., America Meredith, Chris Pappan, Keith Secola, Jeremy Singer, Monty Singer, Ryan Singer, Hoka Skenandore, Micah Wesley, Debra Yepa-Pappan.

Artists in Zombie Skins: Bryon Archuleta, Roy Boney, Lara Evans, Robert Garcia, Sam Atakra Haozous, Topaz Jones, Daniel McCoy, Melissa Melero, Mary Beth Nelson, Ji Hae Pappan, Colin L. singer, Monty Singer, Julius Badoni, Jamison Chas Banks, Tom Farris, Jeremy Gimmey, Frank Buffalo Hyde, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Marlon Melero, America Meredith, Chris Pappan, Joseph Sanchez, Jerrel Singer, Ryan Singer, Natasha Wagner.

2 thoughts on “First Priority: Buy Art that Raises Questions and Makes You Think

  1. I am one of those artists who collect. I’m on a budget this year, but thinking about works on paper, baskets, beadwork and jewelry. Only one or two so I have to make some tough decisions. But I love Market and I love supporting this amazing community of artists. Last year’s purchases from Dyani Reynolds Whitehawk, Venus Etsity and the Reano family brought me joy and compliments.

  2. Pingback: Approaching Quality « Not Artomatic

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s