Published: June 7, 2022
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Santa Fe Art Auction
SANTA FE, N.M. – Santa Fe Art Auction’s two-day Art of the West sale, May 27-28, was a showcase of fine art celebrating the region’s rich heritage and majestic landscape. Offered over the two sessions were Native textiles, classic and contemporary Western paintings, photography, sculpture and more. Artists like John Nieto, Kim Wiggins, Earl Biss and Sheldon Parsons were represented in the sale’s top ranks, and its successful results bore proof that the Wild West remains wildly collectible.
The sale totaled $565,750 within the estimate and had a sell-through rate of 85 percent. More than 5,000 bidders were watching from 40 countries on four online platforms.
The sale was led by a work by American contemporary artist and longtime Santa Fe resident John Nieto (1936-2018).
He concentrated on Native American themes, including tribal representatives as well as indigenous wildlife. “Big Horse Southern Cheyenne,” 1988, an acrylic on canvas from a private collection in Georgia, commanded $26,840. The portrait of a Native American warrior was signed lower right and measured 60 by 48¼ inches. It is entering a private collection in Arizona.
Bidders also liked Kim Wiggins’ (b 1960) “Chiricahua Night,” 2015, a churning nighttime scene of horses traveling through the tract along the US-Mexico border, considered to provide some of the darkest night skies remaining in the American Southwest. The 11-by-14-inch oil on panel was taken to $17,080. Signed lower right and inscribed on verso “CHIRICAhuA Night,” it stemmed from a private New Mexico collection.
“I was delighted to see Wiggins hammer at $14,000,” said Gillian Blitch, the firm’s president and chief executive officer. “I knew it would be strong, but not five times low estimate. Certainly an exceptional small jewel from Wiggins’ oeuvre.”
Dan Namingha (b 1950) in Keams Canyon, Ariz., is a member of the Hopi-Tewa tribe. He has been a painter and a sculptor for the last 40 years and is one of the most acclaimed Native American artists working today. He paints and sculpts images of his homeland and the Hopi people. His works command unwavering respect for the earth and spirit of his ancestry. In this sale, his shimmering acrylic on canvas, “Desert Sunbeam,” 2021, was bid to $17,080. From a private Texas collection, the 30-by-30-inch painting was signed lower left.
Fetching $12,200 was an oil on canvas by Earl Biss (Crow, 1947-1998) titled “A Soft Afternoon in Autumn Waters,” 1992, depicting a procession of warriors on horseback in dreamlike hues. It was from a private Colorado collection.
A chiaroscuro portrait of a horse was the subject of Joe Andoe’s untitled (Oak Leaves), 1990, which went out at $11,875. The oil on linen painting, signed lower left and 46¼ by 36 inches, was from a private New Mexico collection and had provenance to the Blum Helman Gallery in New York City and the Greenberg Gallery, St Louis, Mo.
Another untitled work, this one by Sheldon Parsons and depicting a New Mexico adobe draped with an arrangement of drying chile pepper pods, realized $10,980. This oil on panel was from a private collection Texas and measured 15½ by 19½ inches.
Additional highlights in the sale included Carlos Hall’s “Taos Cottonwood” from 1987 at $9,150 and a painting by Bill Hughes, “Comencheros Trading at the Taos Pueblo,” 1974, which earned $7,930.
After the sale, Blitch commented, “Always pleased to see better than 80 percent sell-through in today’s market, and very satisfying to exceed total low estimate; it reassures us that we continue to track and match auction offerings to the current market, offering a diversity of values but consistency of quality within collecting categories.
“Our next sale is our Signature Live Auction, June 24-25, with a number of events, Session 1 Friday, June 24, will feature Santa Fe Art Auctions renowned selection of fine American art. Sessions 2,3 and 4 on Saturday, June 25, will exclusively feature select highlights from the Georgia and Charles Loloma collection. A catalog will be available for purchase.”
All prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For more information, 505-954-5858 or www.santafeartauction.com.
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