Saturday, May 16, 2009

What I'm Not Buying This Weekend



Although my passion for bling will never match my passion for shoes, I do possess a rather large Jones for Indian (Native American) jewelry. Growing up, we lived about 30 miles east of the Navajo Reservation at Torreon. Which meant that for much of my early childhood, my mom traded food, trinkets, books, and friendship with the local Navajos in exchange for their jewelry and rugs. She did the pawn shop thing, too. The result is that I inherited not only some mighty fine things, but also her savvy for identifying high quality, distinctive Native American arts and crafts. Most of which is now way beyond my price range.

Like this Kirk Smith cluster bracelet. Be. Still. Moi's heart.



Okay, to be fair, I own a Kirk Smith cluster bracelet.
It looks like this one.


I was lucky enough to purchase it about five years ago at Skip Maisel's in downtown Albuquerque for a fraction of what these now go for. Kirk must have been out of fashion at the time. Now he's back in. Go figure.

But the red one above? That's about as special a bracelet as I've seen in years. Sure, life will go on without it. It has to, because my bank account won't go on with it. That red bracelet goes for about $1,200 smackers, Party People.

And you know what? I'm glad. For too many years, our Native peoples haven't been taken seriously as the artists they are. But they have been taken for granted. Pawn shop and gallery owners alike would purchase their wares for a song and mark them up outrageously for the tourists. Today, thanks to organizations like the Indian Arts and Crafts Association, these artisans are more in control of their work and receive fair compensation in both the wholesale and retail markets.

Still, I dodged quite the bullet this week, don't you think?

12 comments:

Boxer said...

I'm sorry, what did the rest of your post say? I was just staring at the beautiful bracelets... both of them.

You dodged a major bullet, but I agree the quality of work is worth the price.

I'm going to go Google this Kirk Smith. I think I have a crusheee.....

TROLL Y2K said...

I plead guilty on paying the marked-up price on a vase at a gallery in Phoenix. Went trail-riding near the reservation the next day and the injuns were selling similar items MUCH cheaper.

Margo said...

love the bracelets - les deux. It's weird... I own some Navajo made turquoise jewelry and it looks so perfect when it is worn out West, but then when I wear it here, it doesn't look quite right. I think it has something to do with being so inspired by the southwestern landscape. Sorry - babbling. Must go outside and play now.

Doris Rose said...

After my first trip to the Land of Enchantment, I wanted to BE a Navajo artist and make beautiful bling and sit on a blanket in Santa FE with my dog and sell my wares...I'd be the the cute-little-anglo-indian.Alas...

EmmaK said...

Gorgeous bracelets although I think you have to be your typeP: tall willowy dark skinned to carry off strong colors like that. I just wear very fine barely there jewelry. Actually I hardly wear any jewelry not even a wedding ring because if I had one I know I'd lose it in a heartbeat.

kmwthay said...

Those are beautimus pieces, Moi!
I have a hard time justifing spending $200 on anything, let along $1200. But definitely stunning bracelets.

I am sure the Native American artists are more abundant there in NM than here. I have seen a few places around that have some awesome Indian art stuff. I love the way it smells in those shops.

I think I know what I am doing this afternoon. :)

moi said...

Boxer: It's easy to crush on Kirk. Wait until you see the multi-colored stone clusters.

Troll: What kind of vase did you buy? I either buy direct from the artists at their rez stores, or at the State Fair, which takes only a small percentage of the sales price.

Margo: It can be difficult to wear because it's unusual, highly colorful, and some of it is quite large. The trick is to wear one piece at a time and keep the rest of your outfit simple – no patterns.

Emma: Those darn wedding rings. They spoil all the fun :o). Still, I do picture you dripping in diamonds, if only for a couple hours on the weekends.

Kmwthay: The interesting thing about New Mexico's Indian arts and crafts is that it was taught to them in the 1800s by white men as a way to encourage self sufficiency, much in the same way missionaries and sociologists have gone into, say, Zimbabwean villages to teach their women quilting and other crafts.

Pam said...

I'm not much of a jewelry person really, don't know why, never have been, but I appreciate art when I see it. And that turquoise bracelet would be my choice between the two. Gorge.Ous.

chickory said...

absolutely right he deserves the money. the same set up happened here with local folk art. that coral colored cluster is great but i like your bracelet too. wave to save, moi!

chickory said...

"way" to save. and agree with other posters - some people can wear that. i am not one of them. you though, it would look great on.

Ree said...

They're beautiful.

Anonymous said...

gimme them thangs!