Buying Native American Art
If purchasing Native American art is on your Scottsdale vacation wish list but you’re not sure where to start, we have some tips that will take the mystery out of finding the perfect piece for your collection.
Know Who You’re Buying From – Some galleries and retailers, like the Heard Museum Shop and River Trading Post, sell only authentic, handmade Native American art, jewelry and craft objects, while others carry a mix of pieces made by Native and non-Native artists. Request a certificate of authenticity, particularly for higher-end pieces, or a written guarantee that the item you are buying is a genuine piece of Native American art. The seller also should be able to tell you some basic information about the artists they represent, such as their tribal affiliations, the mediums in which they work, and their hallmark designs.
Talk to the Artists – In addition to reading books on the subject, the best way to learn about Native American art is to talk with the artists themselves. You’ll learn about the techniques and materials they use, get insight into the cultural significance of their designs, and explore the various styles of art that are available. The Heard Museum offers opportunities to meet talented artists at several annual events, including the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market in March, the Katsina Doll Marketplace in April, and the Navajo Weavers Marketplace in November. At River Trading Post, you can meet Native artists most Thursday evenings during ArtWalk from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. And during the Native American Art ArtWalk (held the first Thursday evening in March), River Trading Post hosts more than a dozen talented artists who stay through Friday to meet and talk with gallery visitors. Native foods, like fry bread and Navajo tacos, and a Hopi drum group also are featured.
Buy What You Like – Above all, collecting Native American art should be enjoyable! Rather than following the latest trends in collecting, look for pieces that connect with you on a personal level. Once you’ve acquired a piece of Native American art, it’s a good idea to document your purchase, both for insurance reasons and so that you can pass this information along should you later decide to sell or gift your piece to someone else.