Totally native: Annual show of ancient and contemporary tribal art marks 25 years in Marin

Going to the Art of the Americas show at the Marin Civic Center will be like entering a museum, director Kim Martindale said: the walls will be hung with art, display tables will show treasures from North, Central and South America.

The Art of the Americas show will celebrate its 25th anniversary in Marin on Feb. 21 and 22 with ancient and contemporary tribal art - from pottery to bead work, weavings to wood carvings.

"Most people don't realize the diversity of Indian art," said Martindale, whose headquarters is in Venice, Calif.

On both days, representatives from the Marin Museum of the American Indian in Novato will demonstrate basket-weaving and corn-grinding.

Collectors, artists and academics from all over the world will take part, according to Martindale, who has been a collector since his childhood in Saskatchewan. About 160 dealers will show their wares.

"From age 8, I began collecting shards of pottery, bottles, feathers," he said. "It's been a lifelong interest."

He had his first show in Santa Fe when he was 15, branched out to San Francisco at age 21, opened in Marin when he was 22.

He is 47 now.

Dealers at the show will include Sandy Horn of Mill Valley, who will show museum-quality baskets, weavings and pottery. The show, she said, is "the best. All the best dealers in the whole country will be there."

Horn's interest in native American art sprang from her upbringing in California's Central Valley. "I grew up with the beautiful baskets.

The Marin show will display pre-Columbian, Spanish colonial and American Indian art, both contemporary and antique. Most of the collections will emphasize North and Central America; "there is much less material from South America at this time," Martindale said.

Mexico will be represented by a range of Mayan masks and furniture.

Native American art will cover the gamut: wood carvings from British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, basketry from California, pottery from the American Southwest. Plains Indians will be represented by beadwork and leather. Some southern and eastern tribes will show fabrics and weavings.

Most of the art will be "historic," meaning that it originated before 1950, said Martindale. Collectors will fly in from England, Japan and the East coast to view the show. "This is a rare opportunity to see materials usually seen only in museums," he said.

Some items - rare blankets, pottery, baskets - will be offered for sale at more than $1 million; a few pieces - small baskets, jewelry - will be on sale for as little as $25.

Several modern-day artists will be on hand including Maria Martinez from New Mexico, and 2Bears Indian Jewelry and Fine Pueblo Pottery, offering Zuni fetishist carvings.

At 10 a.m. Feb. 21, a panel of collectors and dealers will discuss the art of collecting and market changes in the past 25 years.

A lecture at 10 a.m. Feb. 22 by art historian Aldona Jonaitis will discuss "Totem Poles and Tourism: The Creation of a Northwest Coast Icon," which is also the title of her book.

Martindale speaks proudly of the show. "It's been there for 25 years. We look forward to 25 more."


What: Art of the Americas show
Where: Exhibition Hall, Marin Civic Center, San Rafael
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 21; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 22
Tickets: $10, includes catalog
Information: www.marinshow.com, Beth Ashley can be reached at bashley@marinij.com

From: www.marinij.com
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