Published: August 30, 2022
SANTA FE, N.M. – It was a busy mid-August for Santa Fe Art Auction. The firm hosted its American Indian arts sale on August 12-13, coinciding with Indian Market to celebrate diverse Native American arts, and it participated in the Institute of American Indian Arts’ (IAIA) charity event commemorating IAIA’s 60th anniversary on August 17, when an auction of collaborative and individual artworks by prominent contemporary Indigenous artists was conducted to raise critical funds for IAIA student scholarships.
Featuring 500-plus lots from Nineteenth Century to contemporary pottery, textiles, katsinam, jewelry, baskets and paintings, a special highlight of the two-day sale was the firm’s ongoing presentation to the market of about 165 lots from the Georgia and Charles Loloma collection, which achieved “white glove” status. Top lot on the sale’s first day was a Dine [Navajo] rare Lander turquoise and silver Squash Blossom necklace, circa 1970, which brought $23,180 from a collector in Wichita, Kan. From the Connie S. Sanchez estate, California, the 14½-inch-long necklace had about 90 carats of Lander turquoise and an overall weight of 7.4 ounces. Lander blue is prized for its spider-web turquoise and is considered the most valuable turquoise known, with colors from medium to deep blue and a black contrasting matrix.
A Zia polychrome storage jar, circa 1900, was a top highlight of the sale’s second day, realizing $12,200. From the Paul Rhetts collection of New Mexico, it stood 17½ inches high and had a diameter of 19 inches. Also on the second day, a polychrome jar by Fannie Nampeyo (1900-1987), 1935, was bid to $8,750. It stemmed from a private Texas collection and featured a dynamic design in orange, black and white on clay. It was inscribed on its underside “Nampeyo / Fannie” for the modern and contemporary fine arts potter, who carried on the traditions of her famous mother, Nampeyo of Hano, the grand matriarch of modern Hopi pottery. It had a height of 8-7/8 inches and a diameter of 13-1/8 inches.
Bolo ties are a quintessential Southwest Native American accessory. A Carl and Irene Clark, yellow gold and micro-mosaic inlay bolo tie sold for $10,980. The Navajo artisans are part of large families that nourish art with weavers, carvers, painters and jewelry artists. Carl was born in Winslow, Ariz., in 1952; Irene was born in Bird Springs, Ariz., in 1950. Carl was self-taught in 1973 and then taught Irene in 1974. They experimented with Navajo style, Hopi overlay and Zuni inlay. The inlaying progressed from fine, to finer and then to where it is today, micro-fine inlay. Their jewelry is featured in 20 books. This bolo tie, 22K yellow gold, turquoise, lapis, sugilite, coral and opal, is inlaid with a Yei figure, a mythical figure that symbolizes various healing powers.
From the Georgia and Charles Loloma collection, silver and turquoise ketoh, circa 1970s, by Dine jeweler Kenneth Begay (1913-1977) went out at $9,150. It was of suede leather, turquoise and silver, its underside marked “KB” and weighed 4½ ounces. Ketoh is a Navajo word for bow guard, which is a protective wrap for the forearm, designed to protect an archer from the recoil of a bowstring after the arrow is released. Navajo ketohs comprise a leather protective band decorated with silver embellishments.
Fetching $7,320 was a group of three ketohs from the collection of Charles Loloma. They ranged in date from the 1920s to the 1980s, one a stamped silver and leather bow guard, another of silver, turquoise and leather and a third of carved fossilized bone and leather.
Four separate lots in the sale each earned a final price of $7,900. One, a Santo Domingo ceramic pot was from 1870, its fired clay augmented with pigments and hide. From a private New Mexico collection, its measurements were 14 by 20 by 20 inches. Another was a carved Haida argillite pipe, circa 1890, 3 by 8¾ by 1-1/8 inches, also from a private New Mexico collection. The other two were jewelry pieces, one a pueblo-style two-strand turquoise tab necklace with gold ends that was attributed to Charles Loloma, the other a Kenneth Begay silver ring with turquoise stone from the Georgia and Charles Loloma collection.
Reached after the sale, which totaled $712,000 with a 92 percent sell-though, the firm’s president and chief executive officer Gillian Blitch said she was very gratified by the continued strength of the Loloma material. “We have been able to acquire the raw and polished stones of the Loloma workshop,” Blitch said, with specific plans for the material to be announced later.
Santa Fe Art Auction’s next sale is September 23-24, and its Signature sale, November 4-5. Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, 505-954-5858 or www.santafeartauction.com.
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