ATADA News, Spring 2007

Cover: Past Presidents Ramona Morris and Robert Bauver

Cover: Past Presidents Ramona Morris and Robert Bauver


ATADA Lifetime Achievement Awards

Antique Tribal Arts Community Honors Its Own


More than 130 American Indian and tribal art dealers and collectors, archeologists, scholars and museum curators and administrators attended the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Awards dinner on February 24, 2007. The dinner was held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in San Rafael, California where many of the attendees were for the 23rd annual Marin Show: Art of the Americas.

Highlights of the evening included a standing ovation for dealer/honoree Marti Struever when she received her award (the event was nicknamed “the Marti Party” by her many admirers), and scholar/collector/honoree Anne Summerfield’s statement that she hoped the little-known Indonesian textiles she and her husband collect, exhibit, and promote become more “Bali-hoo’ed” in the future.

The honorees were:

Warren Robbins

Founder, National Museum of African Art

Warren Robbins in front of the Museum of African Art.   Photo by Arnold Newman.

Warren Robbins in front of the Museum of African Art.
Photo by Arnold Newman.

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, Warren Robbins is the founder and director of the Robbins Center for Cross-Cultural Communication.

But that is just one of Robbins’ many, many accomplishments. He has done everything from being an office boy at a brokerage firm, from 1939-41, to being a pilot.

He was Chief of the U.S. Cultural Program for Germany, based at the American Embassy in Bonn from 1958-1960.

He was Curriculum Advisor for Hochschule fuer Gestaltung (Academy of Design and Communication), Ulm, Germany, 1955-60, the postwar successor to the Bauhaus.

As a commissioned Lieutenant, he established the University of New Hampshire squadron, Durham, N.H. 1944-45.

He received an M.A. in History and another in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Michigan, and many honorary degrees.

Honors include:
The Robbins Center for Graduate Studies, dedicated at the University of Michigan School of Art & Design, 1996
Winner, Public Humanities Award, Washington Humanities Council, 1990
Washington Art Dealers Association Second Annual Award, 1987
Joseph Henry Medal, Smithsonian Institution, 1983
“Washingtonian of the Year,” 1975
Order of Merit, Republic of Cameroon, 1973
39th Annual Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecturer, sponsored by the Institute for General Semantics, Yale Club, New York, 1990
Afro-American Inaugural Committee Award, 1989
Hon. Vice President, University of Vienna, Post-Graduate Medical Faculty, 1954 (American Medical Society of Vienna)

Boards of Directors or Advisory Boards (past & present include)
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, Advisory Board, University of Minnesota
Maryland Museum of African Art, Columbia, MD, Honorary Co-Chairman
Museum of African-American Art, Santa Monica, CA, Honorary Trustee
Library of Congress, Arts Advisory Committee
The Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, Santa Ana, California

Clubs: Explorers

African Art in American Collections Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 and many others.
Editor/Contributor to many catalogues and publications of the Museum of African Art, as well as organizing many of the exhibitions at the Museum of African Art.

Films & Television (feature programs):
Documentary Film: “Tribute to Africa: The Photography of Eliot Elisofon” (awarded the CINE “Golden Eagle,” 1974)

Has made presentations / given lectures at dozens of venues

Finally, as if the foregoing were not enough, Warren has also devoted time to working on his personal interests in art photography and abstract drawing.

Quintus and Mary Herron

Tribal Art Collection Donors to Idabell, OK
through the Herron Foundation

Quintus and Mary Herron

Quintus and Mary Herron

Quintus and Mary Herron are excellent examples of the kind of people who continually enrich the world around them. They had collected Native American art for a number of years by the early 1970s. A growing awareness of the importance of their collection, and the need for further research into the cultural connections, both historic and prehistoric, led them to create the Herron Research Foundation in 1974.

In 1975, they established the Museum of the Red River in Idabel, Oklahoma, with the gift of their own collection and an endowment from the Herron Foundation. Through continued gifts and a judicious use of acquisition funds, this museum has grown from an initial 2500 square foot building to a structure of over 22,000 square feet, a research library of 4000 volumes, and a collection of nearly 18,000 objects. The Herrons are responsible for 80 percent of this collection.

The Museum of the Red River is the largest exhibiting art museum for 150 miles in any direction, serving a four-state region. Significantly, it is also in a region where it is possibly the only museum for many of the people it serves. The collection emphasizes objects from North American cultures, but also has significant holdings of Pre-Columbian art from Central and South America as well as contemporary works from native peoples of those areas, and representative material from various cultures of Africa, East Asia and the Pacific Islands. The Herrons have approached their collecting as well as their philanthropy in a thoughtful, scholarly and logical manner. They have educated thousands of people to the richness of human endeavor and the importance of preserving this trust for future generations.

They have received numerous awards and recognition for their efforts. Among them:

1998 Mary Herron: The Oklahoma Museums Association’s Laura McDonagh Streich Award honoring the person who has helped to significantly advance museum professionalism in the state, the Association’s highest honor.

2003 Quintus and Mary Herron: The Oklahoma Governor’s Arts Award recognizing longtime leadership and significant contributions to the arts across Oklahoma.

2006: Art and Antiques Magazine Top 100 Collectors in the U.S: Quintus and Mary Herron, Native Art of the Americas.

John and Anne Summerfield

Donors, Collection of Sumatran Minangkabau Textiles, to the Fowler Museum of
Cultural History at UCLA

John and Anne Summerfield outside their hotel in Batu Sangkar, West Sumatra, after a trek through the hills to a macrame village.

John and Anne Summerfield outside their hotel in Batu Sangkar, West Sumatra, after a trek through the hills to a macrame village.

John and Anne Summerfield earned their doctorate degrees in economics and physics, respectively, at the University of California, Berkeley. After retiring from separate active professional lives in academia and the corporate world, they combined their talents to pursue a second career in the arts. Starting in 1977, they built on a lifetime interest in “soft” art to engage in a study of Indonesian ceremonial textiles. By 1985, that study had been narrowed from a pan- Indonesian focus to the relatively unstudied and unpublished ceremonial weavings of the Minangkabau peoples of the province of West Sumatra. At that time, the main Indonesian textile interests of Westerners were in the batiks of Java and the more tribal warp ikats of Eastern Indonesia. Los Angeles residents J. Daniel Ungerer and his wife Gerdy, Dutch Indonesians who were raised in West Sumatra, introduced the Summerfields, who also live in Los Angeles, to the West Sumatran peoples and to their unique matrilineal culture. The Ungerers’ collaboration with the Summerfields has lasted since 1985, giving the Summerfields friendly access to many Minangkabau who became of great assistance in the research effort.

The Summerfields at the 1999 opening of their exhibition, Walk in Splendor, at the Fowler Museum, UCLA. Flanking the couple are H. Hasan Basri Durin (Governor of West Sumatra), and Doran Ross (Director of the Fowler Museum).

The Summerfields at the 1999 opening of their exhibition, Walk in Splendor, at the Fowler Museum, UCLA. Flanking the couple are H. Hasan Basri Durin (Governor of West Sumatra), and Doran Ross (Director of the Fowler Museum).

Some 18 visits to Indonesia have resulted in three major museum exhibitions of Minangkabau weavings collected by the Summerfields:

Trailing the Tiger, 1990-1991, at The Textile Museum in Washington, D. C.

Fabled Cloths of Minangkabau, 1991-1993, at the Santa Barbara (California) Museum of Art (the exhibition traveled to the Bellevue [Washington] Museum and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

Walk in Splendor, 1999, at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, including a major publication, Walk in Splendor, Ceremonial Dress and the Minangkabau. Not an exhibition catalog, the book contains an introduction to the history and culture of the Minangkabau; an extensive report on the Summerfields’ research; and a series of essays on other ceremonial arts of the Minangkabau (dance, architecture, ceremonial food, pidato adat, or ceremonial speech), knowledge of which helps to place the exhibited textiles in context.

In addition, beginning in 2003, the Summerfields co-curated three exhibitions at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Gallery at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts, and conducted a two-day workshop in Indonesian textiles for faculty members who want to use the gallery’s textiles to provide their students hands-on experience with Asian art. The book that accompanies the current 2007 exhibition addresses an important issue in the evolution of tribal arts: what happens when an art that was once individual, and perhaps sacred, becomes commodified? A goal of exhibitions such as this is to encourage textile scholars to read more of anthropologists’ writings and vice versa. The Summerfields also initiated and taught a course on the textile arts of Indonesia at the Center for the Study of Regional Dress at the Fowler Museum, UCLA. They were the founding co-chairs of he Fowler Textile Council, a group of local connoisseurs who meet to discuss current exhibitions, burgeoning trends in art appreciation, visit local collections, and provide support for the Fowler’s extensive textile collection.

They also have given a series of lectures in the United States and Canada illustrated with textiles, not slides, as well as lectures at international conferences. They have published articles in professional and popular journals and newspapers, and have viewed and helped to identify and catalogue Minangkabau collections in many U. S. museums. They consult regularly with persons seeking information about the function, provenance and cultural importance of Minangkabau textiles.

For the Summerfields, a major goal has been to develop a major Minangkabau collection at the Fowler Museum, UCLA, including a representative collection of the weavings as well as Indonesian publications, relevant artifacts, and photographs pertaining to Minangkabau ceremonial weavings. When they started this project, there were five Minangkabau textiles in the Fowler textile collection. The effort is on-going; there are now more than 200 pieces in the collection.

In recognition of their efforts to extend awareness of Minangkabau arts and culture beyond the immediate communities of Indonesia, the Summerfields were adopted during a day-long ceremony conducted by elders of the West Sumatran village of Balinka, the first Caucasians to be so honored.

Stuart Struever


Stuart Struever developed his passion for archeology as a boy, when he carefully recorded the Indian artifacts he found on his family’s land in Illinois. During his college years, he directed an archeological program in the Illinois and Mississippi Valleys. His long-term goal was to achieve a comprehensive understanding of pre-rural American history for those specific regions of the country, starting with the Eurasian immigrants of 12,000 years ago to the disappearance of Indian life a century ago.

In 1964, Struever founded and for twenty years directed the Center for American Archeology, an independent archeological research center affiliated with Northwestern University. The C.A.A. established a permanent research and education campus at Kampsville, Illinois. To acquaint the public with new discoveries, Struever started Early Man magazine, the first magazine to publicize modern archeological findings.

In 1983, he founded a second independent archeological research center, Crow Canyon Archeological Center. Since its inception, Mr. Struever has worked continuously to build and develop this southern Colorado based institution.

Stuart Struever’s many outstanding and varied accomplishments in his chosen science are well documented. He has been listed in Who’s Who in America, received a Humanities Fellow of the Year Award (1984), a Distinguished Service Award from the Society for American Archeologists (1995) and has served as a consultant for numerous museums and television documentaries, and has served as editor for a number of scientific publications.

Stuart Struever on location at a dig.

Stuart Struever on location at a dig.

There have been, however, two main objectives in his career. First, to build and operate independent archeology organizations capable of implementing and sustaining a multidisciplinary, long term research program focused on understanding prehistoric human adaptations. And second, to create programs aimed at expanding archeological education beyond the university classroom.

It was, in fact, Stuart Struever who broke the age barrier for students participating in formal archeological excavations. Beginning in 1970, the Center for American Archeology, at Mr. Struever’s behest, began to invite junior and senior high school students as well as adult lay persons to get involved in digs at its research campus near St. Louis. This idea has been carried on to Crow Canyon. Today, about 3000 high school students and adults annually participate in programs there. About 350 of these young students are American Indians.

Dartmouth College, A.B., 1953
Northwestern University, M.A., 1960
The University of Chicago, Ph.D., 1968

Positions Held
Chairman, Department of Archeology, Northwestern University, 1975 – 1978
Instructor, University of Chicago, 1964 – 1965
Instructor through Full Professor, Northwestern University, 1965 – 1984
President, Center for American Archeology, 1964 -1984
President, Crow Canyon Archeological Center (Denver), 1985 – 1992
Recipient of the Crow Canyon Chair, 1993 – 1995

President, Illinois Archeological Survey
President, Society for American Archeology
Member, Research Grant Committee for Anthropology, National Science Foundation
Member, Grant Committee on Basic Research, National Endowment for the Humanities
Member, Founding Board of Directors, Society of Professional Archeologists
Publisher of Early Man, the Magazine of Modern Archeology
Member, Board of Scientific Governors, Chicago Academy of Sciences
Member, Advisory Board, Mitchell Indian Museum, Kendall College
Series Editor, STUDIES IN ARCHEOLOGY series, Academic Press
Editor, Memoirs series, Society for American Archeology.

Martha Hopkins-Struever

American Indian Art dealer/collector

Marti, looking at a piece of pottery by Santa Clara artist Jody Naranjo

Marti, looking at a piece of pottery by Santa Clara artist Jody Naranjo

Martha Struever entered the world of American Indian Art as a collector in 1971. In 1976, she established the Indian Tree Gallery in Chicago which continued under her direction until 1983. Finding talented new Indian artists was a primary focus of Marti Struever’s early endeavors in the field. Through the exhibition of their work at her gallery, many artists were introduced to the world outside the Southwest. In the years between 1978 and 1989, the now-notable jewelers Gail Bird and Yazzie Johnson, Richard Chavez, Norbert Peshlakai and Perry Shorty, as well as potters Dextra Quotskuyva, Steve Lucas and Les Namhinga all had their first exhibitions sponsored by Marti Struever.

Over the past thirty years Marti Struever has organized and conducted more than sixty traveling art seminars. These trips are highlighted by private visits to museums, scholars and artists. The tours create new collectors and further the knowledge of veterans in the field of native art.

Marti and Stuart

Marti and Stuart

In part, through her association with Crow Canyon, an independent archeological research center started by her husband, Stuart, Marti Struever oversaw nine benefit Indian Art Shows in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Denver, bringing 25 artists to each event. One of the nation’s leading authorities on Nampeyo, she was a guest curator for several museum exhibits on the life and work of the famous potter. It was her great interest in Nampeyo and the people of Hopi that would lead her to the distant mesas where she would develop close friendships with Dextra Quotskuyva, the granddaughter of Nampeyo, and with the ground-breaking contemporary jeweler, Charles Loloma. These relationships in turn led to major retrospective museum exhibitions for both artists, both of which were accompanied by comprehensive books authored by Struever.

She continues to seek out young and talented artists in the Southwest, sponsoring their work at a show she curates every August in Santa Fe. From Santa Fe to New York to far-flung corners of the Hopi and Navajo reservations, if you are traveling with Marti Struever, you will be cordially greeted by collectors, scholars and artists.

Book: Loloma, Beauty Is His Name, Wheelwright Museum, 2006
Book: Painted Perfection: The Pottery of Dextra Quotskuyva, Wheelwright Museum, 2002
Catalogue: Nampeyo, a Gift Remembered, Kendall College, Mitchell Museum, Evanston, IL, 1984
Catalogue: Hopi Art: A Century of Continuity and Change, San Francisco Craft & Folk Art Museum, 1987

Guest Curator:
Nampeyo, A Gift Remembered, Kendall College, 1984
Hopi Art: A Century of Continuity and Change, San Francisco Craft & Folk Art Museum, 1987
Painted Perfection, the Pottery of Dextra Quotskuyva, Wheelwright Museum, 2002
Loloma Beauty Is His Name, Wheelwright Museum, 2005
Loloma Beauty Is His Name, Heard Museum, 2006

Lecture Series:
“Art and the People of the Southwest,” Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, 1984
“American Tribal Art,” Teachers Educational Conference, Gary, IN, 1981
“Collecting American Indian Art,” symposium with Richard Pohrt, Sr. and Fr. Peter Powell, Chicago, 1981
“Southwest Weaving,” symposium with Joe Ben Wheat, Marion Rodee, Bill Malone, Chicago, 1982
“American Indian Jewelry,” lectures and demonstrations with Gail Bird, Yazzie Johnson, Norbert Peshlakai,
Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, 1985.

The Man Whose Idea Became Reality

Bob Bauver talks about the Lifetime Achievement Awards

After five years of discussion, the ATADA, Lifetime Achievement Awards took place on February 24th in Marin. Originally planned to take place in Santa Fe during the August show schedule, a suggestion was made to move the awards evening to Marin while people were in town for the show. This turned out to be a sound judgment, and with Kim Martindale’s involvement in the preparation, it became a reality.

These awards were conceived with the idea and intent to reach beyond our organization in order to recognize the contributions of individuals involved in all aspects of tribal arts. This was done in an effort to establish a common ground among the various fields of study and by bringing people together to introduce ATADA to these representative individuals in a way that might not otherwise happen.

There has been an encouraging amount of support for the event and many have urged us to keep up the momentum by continuing the award evening next year, after which it would be presented on a two year schedule.

In the future, we would like to be able to make this event a fund raiser for the organization. However, to do so we will have to investigate seeking sponsorship from sources yet to be determined. We all owe a great debt of gratitude to K.R. Martindale for donating the expenses for the room and all the arrangements required to make the evening such a success. Very special thanks go out to Kim and his staff as well as to Alice for all their work and dedication. It was, indeed, gratifying to see an idea come to this fruition. Thank you.

Robert Bauver


From the President


As my first official act as your new president, it was my pleasure to preside over the ATADA Lifetime Achievement Awards dinner. This event achieved our initial goal; it honored some very worthy people and our organization basked in some of their reflected glory, on top of which the food and ambiance were excellent and everyone present had a great time!

I would like to seize this opportunity to rectify a glaring omission made that evening: in failing to acknowledge Kim Martindale for his Herculean efforts to make the Lifetime Achievements Award event happen, we were very remiss. It is safe to say that without his help the project would never have happened and I thank him mightily. Although a bit young compared to our recipients, Kim is well on his way to his own achievement award for all he has accomplished in our field and on behalf of ATADA and we look forward to many years of mutual cooperation!

There are some constructive suggestions I would like to make for the future .among others, this would include a better PA system (luckily, no one could tell who was thanked and who wasn’t!), but I admired how under quite difficult conditions, our team of volunteers pulled together to help squeeze the most out of the sound system, following the old theater dictum, “The show must go on!” To them I also give thanks!

I for one like having a large number of honorees from various fields; in so doing, we ensure a greater success not only by the prospect of attracting a more diverse audience to the event, but also there is the collective benefit of being exposed to very informed individuals with specialized interests outside our own. I know I learned a lot that night and I hope the rest of you did as well.

One suggestion might be to limit the focus of the introductions to the human side of the winners, who they are as persons, as opposed to repeating academic accomplishments that were already on the wall; yet we must encourage the spontaneous talks by the recipients, which were all very interesting and well received!

I thank everyone for their contribution for making this a success, and I welcome your suggestions for improving the event in the future.

On another note, having just made it through the February Bay Area shows and with NY Tribal in May and August in Santa Fe coming up, I would like to say a few words about vetting. This is both a sensitive subject and a difficult job. No one likes to hear that their object is a problem piece, especially now that such large sums of money can often ride on the decision of people one may feel at first blush know less about the subject than oneself. But everyone can make a mistake; I know I certainly have. It is through the process of having our material discreetly reviewed by informed colleagues that we are able to catch the occasional error. If the vetters have made a mistake and it is a good piece, then it will still be a good piece after the show; on the other side, if it is “wrong,” then what a blessing! Not only are costly, traumatic, and alienating “returns” avoided on down the road, the pulling a problem artifact from the market also spares one poisonous whispers about the questionable status of one’s piece, not to mention a booth often looks much better for the simplifying!

I would like to make a statement of appreciation for those who serve as vetters, for it is from their often-thankless task that the collecting community feels a greater security and, as a result, buys more freely and with greater confidence, a benefit to all of us! As ATADA’s existence is predicated on the principle of serving the public interest by guaranteeing the authenticity and legal provenance of all of the art we sell, we must aggressively self-vet. Please leave “maybe” pieces at home. Be kind to vetters, next time you may be one!

Wishing all the best,

Thomas Murray


Editor’s Notebook

After our first Lifetime Achievement Awards dinner, I want to thank a lot of people who made the event possible and successful.

First, thank you Bob Bauver, for having the idea and for continuing to talk about it, even when no one seemed to be listening.

A huge thank you to Kim Martindale, without whom taking Bob’s idea to reality would not have been possible. Without his vision, party planning experience, and generosity, there would have been no awards dinner.

Thank you to Kim’s staff – Keith, Victoria, Linda, Doc, and everyone else who helped turn problems and crises into solutions.

Thank you to Weston Pritts and Becky Walding, who created the invitations, programs, ads and posters, sometimes on a very tight schedule.

Thank you to Deann Spitler, ATADA’s printer, who was personally responsible for making sure there were copies of the ATADA News ready to give out at the awards dinner.

Thank you to Cindy Hale, who asked if there was anything she could do to help, and meant it. Thanks to her and Margaret Neal and a few others, everyone was directed toward their tables on time or close to it.

Thank you to The ATADA Strings – the talented and generous Philip Garaway and Bob Caparas — for their wonderful music during cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

To the entire staff of the Embassy Suites Hotel, every one of whom seemed to help in large and small ways.

To our honorees, who traveled many miles to join us and receive their awards with grace and charm. To Steve Elmore, who was our photographer. And to our members and friends, who showed up for the party and made the event — and our organization — shine.

Thanks again, everyone – and let’s do it again in 2008! We await your nominations for the next Lifetime Awards honorees. We will tally up the nominations, print them in the next issue of the ATADA News, and invite all members to vote on who will be the 2008 honorees.

Alice Kaufman

Member Close-Up

Robert Dowling

After graduating with honors from the University of California at Davis with a degree in European History in 1992, Robert Dowling started cooking in restaurants and playing the saxophone in a musical revue that included four go-go dancers, a Tom Jones impersonator with the improbable moniker “Johnny Splendor,” and lots of props. “I had a lot of solos, usually played in a tiny cocktail dress and combat boots.

“I was rebelling against my father, who was a doctor,” Dowling remembers. “I didn’t want to do anything practical.” But his career as a cook ended when a fire truck crashed through the front window of the San Francisco restaurant he was working at and closed it down. Incredibly, no one was hurt.

“I was unemployed when a South African friend returned to San Francisco from a trip to Johannesburg, where he’d gone to the flea market. He told me about some men from Cameroon he’d met, who offered to sell him what they described as ‘a portion of a chief’s ancestral treasure that the chief wanted to sell so he could rebuild his palace. You know, that old story.

“As I was interested in art and art history, this sounded great to me. My friend and I worked out a scheme so that we could import the treasure. I was supposed to be the academic brains behind the partnership! I was so happy to find something cool to do — selling African art — that would let me use my brain and read books!”

Once the treasure arrived in San Francisco, Dowling’s euphoria lasted for three weeks, which was when he brought pictures of his purchases to Dave DeRoche to try to sell the pieces to him. Did he know DeRoche?

“No,” he answers, “we were so clueless. We found one of his silent auction catalogs at a flea market and called him up.”

It took DeRoche just one look at Dowling’s photos to tell him that everything he had was junk, “and then he took us into his back room and showed us things.” One of those things was a carved coconut from Benin.

“It’s been published,” DeRoche said.

Yes, Dowling replied, and gave the citation.

“I’d read the book three days before we saw Dave,” Dowling explains.

Apparently DeRoche was impressed, because he called Dowling two weeks later and offered him a job. This was in 1995. “Dave was very good to me and taught me a lot,” Dowling says now. “He was very generous trying to educate me, taking me, on his nickel, to see private collections in New York and Europe. And I returned the favor by treating his business as my business, trying to make as much money for him as I could. After two years, he made me a minority partner with an increasing stake in the business that was determined by how long I kept working with him.”

But in 2000, Dowling left to go out on his own. “I just needed to start making my own decisions.” Where did he get his starting inventory? “I had a small stake in Dave’s gallery and took some inventory.” But DeRoche understandably didn’t want to give up any of his great pieces, so Dowling started his business with what he descries as “lots of ‘middle’ pieces.” To add to that, “I had no clients, and I wouldn’t poach Dave’s clients.” Then how did he make it work?

“I was able to sell what I had to other dealers. Besides, I was a young guy, a fresh face, so people would give me things to sell, but usually things they hadn’t been able to sell themselves for years. I felt like I had good taste in African art, but when I started, I had no working capital, and the pieces I wanted to buy cost five figures.

“Finally, some dealers started offering better things to me, and once I started buying them, they would also give me some good things on consignment, for which I remain grateful. And as I got more important things, I had greater access to other important things.”

“The African art market has exploded,” he reports. “The quality of the material has increased, and there are more great things available, some of them masterpieces.”

OK, that’s how he did business with his fellow tribal art dealers. But how did he get his first private clients? “I’d go to new territory – Santa Fe, for instance – and basically, start knocking on doors. I’d see one person and ask if they knew anyone else I could see. And then the new people would refer me to other people.”

When asked if he has any role models in the tribal art business, Dowling immediately mentions Tom Murray.

“Tom’s been a good mentor to me in so many ways,” Dowling says, “helping me to look at things, encouraging me to look at the very best, and reminding me to always look critically. He also taught me a lot about business, and about negotiating with people.”

Dowling also mentions his friendship with Peter Boyd. “Peter stays with me when he’s in San Francisco, and over the past few years of looking at things together, he’s really helped me to trust in my eye, to trust my own judgment and be confident with my decisions.”

Dowling admires Jim Willis as well: “He and each of his pieces have so much integrity, something I try to emulate. And he is very gutsy – he is never afraid to give his honest opinion of anything, even if it gets him in hot water, as it often does. He has a sincere, personal commitment to this art.”

Even though, as he says, he has “only been around for 11 years,” Dowling has seen changes in the tribal art business. “The African art market has exploded,” he reports. “The quality of the material has increased, and there are more great things available, some of them masterpieces.”

And is this a good thing?

“It’s exciting to see,” he replies, “but what happened to the Indian art market seems to be happening here – material dried up and demand increased, driving the prices through the roof.”

Dowling has no personal collection. “I learned that from Jim Willis – he says it is unethical to compete with collectors. Besides, the most important thing is growing my business. If I pay a lot to get something great, I have to sell it to keep going. Even if I find a great thing for a little at an estate sale, I sell it to buy another great thing.”


Minutes of ATADA Board Meeting, San Rafael

February 22, 2007

Tom Murray
Bob Gallegos
Bob Bauver
Joe Guimera
Ramona Morris
Merrill Domas
Roger Fry
Len Weakley
Mike McKissick
Arch Thiessen
Alice Kaufman
Walter Anderson

Tom Murray was elected as the new president of ATADA. He graciously accepted, and thanked outgoing president Merrill Domas for her contributions.

Mission basket dealer Walter Anderson was introduced by Merrill to address the board on and show examples of contemporary Mission baskets from Mexico that are doctored to look antique, and are being sold as such, some to people who are experts in the field. Walter offers free authentication of Mission baskets to any ATADA member. These baskets, Anderson emphasized, are not fakes, but are real Indian-made baskets. They are just not old, and should not be represented as such. Bob Gallegos said that ATADA could sponsor a trip for Walter to Mexico to investigate and try to find a way to help the weavers to make it easier to distinguish the new from the old, and said he’d be interested in accompanying him. A grant for such research was approved by the board. The website of one of the groups making these baskets is It was also decided to send out a Fake Alert to the membership, emphasizing that these baskets were not fakes, but were also not old.

Ramona Morris announced that the board had decided to make ATADA’s webmaster Arch Thiessen a Lifetime Member, and presented him with a plaque making it official.

Although the Lifetime Awards dinner was still two days in the future on the night of the meeting, the event was discussed. There were proponents for repeating the party every one year, two years, three years and four years. [At the dinner, president Tom Murray said the next awards dinner would take place in three years. The current schedule is to repeat the dinner in 2008.]

Bob Gallegos said that we need to give grants in a more major way, and that we should be getting PR for those grants. Various PR ideas were discussed. Bob Gallegos proposed that a PR committee be formed, and Joe Guimera was named chair. Alice Kaufman and Tom Murray are also on the committee, which will explore and execute more effective ways to be more in the public eye.

The membership process was changed somewhat in that Brant Mackley and ATADA’s new graphic designer, Weston Pritts, would be in charge of lists for mailing and the Directory. Mike McKissick remains Membership chair and will develop new ways to attract new members. A discussion was held about the bylaws and acceptance of new members, and the Law Committee (Roger and Will Fry and Len Weakley) will do research and attempt an overhaul/update of the bylaws.

It was also decided that the ATADA logo is only for the use in ads for Full members, as stated in the bylaws.

Dealers can only be Associate members for three years, it was decided, and then will be asked to join as Full members. New dealers who join will join as Full members. All dealers, Tom said, should be Full members. If Full membership is a financial hardship, a grant could be arranged. Wider distribution of the ATADA Directory was suggested, and discussions are already underway with Mary Hamilton for ideas on this. Tom Murray suggested a possible article in Tribal magazine on ATADA and the shift of the tribal art market to Europe.

A discussion was them held on ads in the Directory that picture human body parts. It was agreed we will no longer accept such ads. Also, any ad in any publication featuring human body parts should not include an ATADA logo.

A committee focusing on tribal art will be formed (members need not be ATADA members), and ways to offer perks to tribal art dealers were discussed. The fact that Thomas Murray and new board member Michael Evans are tribal art dealers should help with this focus.

Bob Gallegos suggested that a grant be given to the National Parks Site Watch program, which includes electronic surveillance at archeological sites. An award of $1500 was approved.

Galerie Flak new ATADA Members and Board Members

President Thomas Murray invited new ATADA members Edith and Roland Flak (they joined as Full members during the Marin show) to join the board as European representatives. M. and Mme. Flak accepted the invitation, and will attend the board meeting in Santa Fe this August, tentatively scheduled for Sunday morning, August 12. The General Meeting for all members (and any other interested parties) is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday morning, August 15.

In light of Arch Thiessen’s Lifetime Membership Award, Tom Murray asked ATADA’s webmaster how he got started in computing. Here is Arch’s reply, which includes plans for the future as well:

Hello Tom,

You asked how an old timer like me got into computing. I wrote my first computer program in 1958 as a student. I got a Ph.D. in High Energy Physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1966. I spent my entire career at the Los Alamos National Laboratory doing Nuclear and High Energy Physics. Most of my career was spent making good use of the large computers of the era. Actually, the desktop PCs that we have now are even bigger and faster than the behemoths of my time.

In 1995, I created a web site for my wife’s business, Sunshine Studio. In 1998, while I was an at-large member of the board, I realized that I could do a service for ATADA by creating a web site. Nobody on the BOD really understood what was needed. I created a web site for “a professional organization,” setting all the ground rules myself. I intentionally kept advertising off the site. Over the years it grew to what it is today, with a small improvement each year. The stability and direction that I provided made it useful and created a presence for ATADA. Today, the ATADA web site is visited by fifty or so people per day.

In part, my ulterior motive was to provide something to do in the retirement that would come some day, and to provide a means of contact with other dealers for my wife, Challis.

I hope to turn over the Directory portion of the site to Wes Pritts when he grows ready for it, in a few weeks to a few months. It would be best if the publisher of the printed directory publishes the web directory from exactly the same database, since errors can be more easily be found and corrected this way. It may be possible to create a web page for the advertisements from the Directory. If properly done and clearly kept separate from the rest of the site, it will not detract from the ATADA site and could provide extra value for the advertisers. We need to find additional ways to distribute the ATADA Directory, as it is not yet a very good value for the advertisers.

My wife died in June, 2003. I decided to expand Sunshine Studio. The expansion worked and business picked up. I retired from Los Alamos at the end of 2003 and I devote nearly full time to Sunshine Studio.

I am busier than ever, hence I cannot take on major new commitments. I will gradually shed some of the detailed work and turn it over to Brant Mackley and Wes Pritts as their time permits. I hope to continue to provide direction and enthusiasm for the web site and continue to maintain and improve it consistent with ATADA’s goals.

I shall create an ATADA Fraud Alert web page in the next few days. I shall start it with the Navajo Weaving and Mission Basket problems that we have already identified. Shortly, with the help of Stephanie Porter, we shall publicize some of the misrepresented merchandise and dealers who are selling imported jewelry as Indian Jewelry on eBay. This will create an even stronger presence for ATADA. I have already discussed what I intend to do with Roger and Len and they support me in principle. I hope that ATADA will pay a few hundred dollars for a few fraudulently represented pieces that we will purchase.

Fraud Alerts are good business. I forwarded the most recent alert on Mission Baskets to my Zuni Fetish customers. I got back about 15 emails thanking me. Customers appreciate it. I shall never ask for your customer lists. But you could forward the ATADA theft alerts and fraud alerts to your customer mailing list with just a couple of clicks. Customers will appreciate it, and your business will improve.

There you have it in a nutshell – what I see that you gave me a lifetime award for. It was worth the trouble for all of us.

Arch Thiessen

Book News: What an honor!

Four awards for a new book!

“Navajo and Pueblo Earrings 1850-1945” by Robert Bauver has just been honored as:

2006 Arts Book Award Finalist, USA Book News

2006 Southwest Book of the Year Award, Border Regional Library Association

2006 Southwest Books of the Year, Tucson- Pima Library System

2006 Finalist, Book of the Year Award, ForeWord Magazine

For more information and to buy this book go to