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More on art...

Prolog: Sorry everyone. I meant to post this yesterday. But, well, you know how it is, things got in the way. Anyhoo, better late than never...

So last time I was talking about how my parents got into collecting...and You’ll recall that when I left off, they had just discovered a horde of Native American art, and some antiquities, in the apartment of a former tenant of theirs who just disappeared, leaving no trace behind.

As I say, they had always been into art, and that sort of jump started their interest. The “Native American antiquities” side of things went away fairly quickly. Given the state of the market, it is just too dangerous. You never know when you might be getting something that’s been actually been looted, or is “grave goods,” or is counterfeit, or...well...a thousand other things.(1)

So, gradually they shifted to art exclusively, that is, art whose “Provenance” (love that word) they knew. And, if possible, where they knew the artist as well. They started buying pieces from Indian artists--mostly Pueblo, but then moving into Navajo as well...and from there into Hispanic and Anglo artists.

For a while, part of this was meant to be re-sold. They opened up a shop with old friends, Henry and Mary, whom they’d known from what they jokingly called “the slumlord years.” That is, they’d been in partnerships which had mostly apartment buildings. And, by the way, it was never really slums, unless you count the university student ghetto, but it was a good joke.

About the photos: Two today. First, a couple of my parents while they were traveling. Here they are on camels.. Sorry about the quality but these were sent to me many years ago. Second, my Dad and Martha at the Ponderosa Winery. This would have been just about a year before my Dad passed.

Their new shop was called “the Tuesday Shop,” and it was run chiefly by my Mom and Mary. The husbands did the leg work, though there was a lot of that. And both families purchased art on their own and placed it on consignment in the shop.

I don’t know how long it ran, but eventually the shop closed down. I think partly it got caught up in an economic downturn or two. And art shops are always difficult ventures. Plus, finally, I think they just got (once again) kind of bored of the whole business. It is one thing to buy art and display it. It’s another to do bookkeeping, pay taxes, and otherwise deal with the trials of retail.

Besides, they had other fish to fry. Mary and Henry had gotten interested in wine. They began the Ponderosa Winery, not too far from Albuquerque. The Ponderosa became one of New Mexico’s success stories and was soon making award-winning wines. I know Henry passed on a while back, but the last time I visited the Ponderosa, Mary was running things and the vineyard was going strong.(2)

My parents, meanwhile, wanted to travel.  My mother insisted that they were going to go everywhere she’d wanted to visit before she died. And, frankly, they did a surprisingly good job of that. I have pictures of them everywhere from Paris to Beijing to the Pyramids--both the ones in Egypt and the ones in Central America.

So what art they’d had in the shop came back to the house (making it still more crowded and chaotic). And they continued to buy more art, which also came into the house. But, for them, that was fine.

Time passed. The house grew more and more full. And then, alas, my mother had her second stroke. A year after that, she died. And, not surprisingly at all, a year after that my father passed on as well.

Though, two good things. My mother was able to meet Emily... who would marry David...before she, well, lost awareness of things. And my father, in the last adventure of his life, was able to attend David and Emily’s wedding, the month before he died.

But, they were gone.

And, I, as the Executive Trustee, was charged with making certain that the heirs got what was due to them. Fortunately, that was easy. There weren’t many heirs.

But I was also supposed to deal with the house...

A house full of wonders...

In fact, a house stacked (literally) to the ceiling in some places...

With treasures and trash.

More to come.


1. Check out this fascinating and useful article on the Antiques Roadshow website from PBS, “Collecting Indian Artifacts, Safely and Legally,” buy Dennis Gaffney, Posted 02.26.2001,

One quick aside. I ran into this personally some years ago when I visited a quite respectable shop in a certain western city. I was already only marginally tolerated in the place because I was so clearly middle class (their usual clients were quite a bit above that). Then, I really annoyed the owners when I noticed they were selling several pots that were “holed.” That is, they had hole drilled in them. That, in turn, meant they were originally part of a grave offering, which meant they were also illegal.

I wasn’t exactly escorted to the door by security, but it was close enough.

2. Check out their website, here: The Ponderosa also has a Wikipedia entry as well:

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