Published: September 8, 2015
Review and Onsite Photos By Laura Beach
Additional Photos courtesy Manitou Galleries
SANTA FE, N.M. — Art colony and resort, Santa Fe is at its busiest in August, when an influx of visitors from around the country — Texans, Californians and New Yorkers notable among them — swells its ranks. For nimble purveyors of art and artifacts, opportunities abound.
Charla and Bob Nelson are among the most enterprising experts to have alighted on the Santa Fe scene. Specialists in Western and Native American art and antiques, they operate Manitou Galleries. Headquarters is Cheyenne, Wyo., where the company “builds” its auctions, as Bob Nelson explains. Manitou opened a retail gallery on West Palace Avenue in Santa Fe in 2003, added the separate Palace Jewelers in 2010, and expanded to a second retail location on Santa Fe’s Canyon Road in 2011. Besides that, the Nelsons are the driving force behind two Cheyenne institutions, the Nelson Museum of the West and the Military Memorial Museum. Bob also exhibited at Whitehawk’s Antique Indian & Ethnographic Art Show at the Santa Fe Convention Center between August 12 and 15.
Auction in Santa Fe took place on Sunday and Monday, August 16 and 17, in the downtown setting of the Hilton Santa Fe, a few blocks from the capital city’s historic plaza. The handsome color catalog accompanying the auction included 709 lots representing a nearly encyclopedic range of Western collecting specialties, antique and contemporary, in a range of prices. Citing a sell-through rate of 88 percent and gross sales of $1,008,000, the Nelsons pronounced their August outing a success.
“We’ve seen nearly everything over the last 30 years of conducting auctions through three recessions. We are getting more on board with the social media bandwagon and are always striving to reach the new, young buyers, as well as satisfy the needs of our investment-level collectors. We had a wide variety of offerings this year, and it paid off,” said Bob, noting, “We sell more to Internet, phone and absentee bidders every time.”
The action began on Sunday with works on paper by Karl Bodmer, Frederic Remington and Edward Borein, a Borein pen and ink drawing inscribed with a poem by the artist and the date 1940 bringing $1,416. The auctioneers succeeded with classic Taos and Santa Fe school paintings of the early Twentieth Century, as well as with cowboy art of the late Twentieth Century to the present. In the historic realm, “Ranch in Winter,” a cool, contemplative oil view by Oscar Berninghaus, a founder of the Taos colony, garnered $31,050. “View of the Valley,” a majestic, mountain scene by early Twentieth Century California painter Henry Raschen, fetched $10,350. A Post-Impressionist-style “Town View” by Alfred Morang, a New England painter who settled in Santa Fe in the 1930s, garnered $7,865.
Bronzes by more than a dozen contemporary Western artists included “Vantage Point — Black Bear,” a 16-inch-tall bronze by Colorado wildlife artist Ken Bunn that realized $9,440.
Plains Indian relics with painted and beaded decoration produced some of the auction’s best results. Dating to the early Nineteenth Century, a fully beaded Cheyenne cradle board crossed the block at $32,200. Two Nineteenth Century bow cases and quivers, one set Apache, the other set Sioux, achieved $13,310 and $12,650, respectively. Southern Plains beaded leggings crossed the block at $12,650 and beaded bags also performed well, a Crow example realizing $10,350 and a Sioux example making $4,473. A painted and decorated Arapaho Ghost Dance drum of circa 1890 doubled high estimate to fetch $5,463.
Bidders also pursued Navajo weaving; a late Classic serape of circa 1870 hitting $11,500 and a Germantown Moki blanket in a Hubell revival pattern garnering $9,775.
In the jewelry category, bidders cottoned to the work of Darryl Edwards, whose colorful stone inlay pieces show the influence of Hopi master Charles Loloma. A buckle by Edwards realized $2,006; a bracelet, $1,062.
Collectors of Western Americana took a shot at a circa 1940s silver-mounted and tooled leather parade saddle by Edward H. Bohlin. It went for $9,075. Weaponry included a Missouri war axe attributed to the Sauk and Fox native people, circa 1840, $10,350.
Featuring cowboy and Indian collectibles, firearms and fine art, Manitou Galleries’ foremost event is the March in Montana show and sale. It is set for March 18 and 19, 2016, in Great Falls, Mont. “In Santa Fe, we put more emphasis on Indian artifacts. In Montana, where we partner with Coeur d’Alene, the dominant focus is on art,” Bob Nelson said.
Prices reported include buyer’s premium.
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