LOS ANGELES — John Moran Auctioneers will hold its American Indian Art + Objects auction on Tuesday, October 4, starting at noon Pacific time. With close to 300 lots, this sale will feature a wide variety of art and objects made by indigenous North Americans, including both historic and contemporary pottery, jewelry, baskets, bronzes and fine art. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Offerings include an exquisite glass vase by the Tlingit artist Preston Singletary. His art has become synonymous with the relationship between traditional European glass blowing and Northwest Native art. Singletary’s body of work features themes of transformation, animal spirits and shamanism through elegant blown-glass forms and mystical sand-carved Tlingit designs. His piece Wolf Hat, a sand-carved and -blown clear glass hat vessel, has an estimate of $8,000-$12,000.
Another impressive work from the Tlingit people is an Oyster Catcher rattle. Predating the year 1900, this delicately-carved polychrome wood rattle is in the form of an Oyster Catcher (a large, obvious and noisy plover-like bird) and has an estimate of $10,000-$15,000. This piece was created with a carved and polychrome bone beak and multiple inset abalone shell accents and is comprised of three wood sections, one dowelled for the elongated neck and the other two hollowed sections forming the body of the rattle and held together with sinew lashes.
This auction will also feature iconic images by the photographer Edward S. Curtis. He devoted 30 years to photographing and documenting more than 80 tribes west of the Mississippi, from the Mexican border to northern Alaska. His project won support from such prominent and powerful figures as President Theodore Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan. Upon its completion in 1930, the work, entitled The North American Indian, consisted of 20 volumes, each containing 75 hand-pressed photogravures and approximately 300 pages of text. Each volume was accompanied by a corresponding portfolio containing at least 36 photogravures. Edward Curtis’s The North American Indian Volume 18 is a highlight of the sale, having 18 plates (four framed) with its original leatherette portfolio case and an estimate of $10,000-$15,000.
Pueblo pottery will be represented by contemporary artists such as Russell Sanchez, Mela Youngblood, Randall Chitto, Tina Garcia, Mark Tahbo, Maria Martinez and Lucy Leuppe McKelvey. The highlight, though, is a late 19th-century Hopi pottery canteen attributed to Nampeyo. The Hopi began making canteen-form pottery vessels in the 1500s as influenced by similar Spanish canteens. In the late 19th century, pottery vessels were produced for trade and sale and were typically decorated with Hopi katsina figures that early tourists favored. This piece is a fired clay pottery canteen with a polychrome design on its front depicting Palhik Mana or the Butterfly Maiden. Its estimate is $4,000-$6,000.
Described as a “modern Indian” and the first Pueblo “rock star” is the artist Tony Da. He broke cultural barriers, practicing San Ildefonso Pueblo tradition but living in a contemporary world. Da’s precision designs and techniques can be found in his art, ceramics and printmaking, but his pieces are scarce and thus highly collectible when they do come to market. The serigraph Fetish Bear, from 1995, has an estimate of $1,500-$2,500 and is unique in that it depicts the same highly-evolved design aesthetic he uses in his ceramics and is the only serigraph in his repertoire. He even went so far as to incorporate turquoise cabochon stones to the surface, as he does with his celebrated pottery.
A collection of small and miniature Pima and Apache baskets will be available, as well as multiple lots of contemporary Navajo baskets by Mary Holiday Black. A basket-maker and -weaver from the Bitter Water Clan, Black was part of a group of women who sparked a renaissance of weaving Navajo baskets during the 1970s. She introduced several innovations that proved critical to the tradition’s survival, such as expanding the baskets beyond the size appropriate for ceremonial use. The sale’s selection of Black’s baskets have estimates ranging from $400-$1,200.
Leading the jewelry choices is a collection of wire-formed pieces by Veronica Poblano, and also an Artland Ben silver and gold concho belt and bolo tie owned by Gregory Sierra from the beloved sitcom Barney Miller. More than 40 lots of Native and Southwest jewelry by makers such as Michael Garcia (Na Na Ping), Kee Yazzie, Thomas Singer, Ken Romero and Richard Begay will round out the jewelry offerings.
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