Contemporary Native American jewelry is showcased at the Wheelwright Museum’s Center for the Study of Southwestern Jewelry and Case Trading Post gift shop in Santa Fe.
The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe, New Mexico first opened the Jim and Lauris Phillips Center for the Study of Southwestern Jewelry’s Martha Hopkins Struever Gallery in 2015, which materialized after the museum collected pieces by Native American artists for nearly thirty years (and also thanks to gifts by the Phillips family as well as John and Ann Stewman). Today, the permanent gallery display includes thirty-six cases that tell the story of Native American jewelry from the beginning of its development to contemporary times.
In early 2020, the last three cases were refreshed with jewelry pieces that the museum had received between 2015 and 2020. The new acquisitions include an elaborate Liz Wallace (Nisenan/Washo/Diné) piece that’s a wearable belly dancer set, two storyteller belts and a stunning South Sea Pearl by Gail Bird (Santo Domingo/Laguna) and Yazzie Johnson (Diné), two belts by McKee Platero (Diné), and works by Raymond Yazzie (Diné), Charles Loloma (Hopi), and Michael Kabotie (Hopi).
“People may have assumed that because we opened this gallery in 2015 that we’re done collecting, but we are continuing to collect and continue to get substantial donations from people around the country,” says Jean Higgins, director of the Wheelwright. “We’re collecting from artists who want their pieces to be seen here in Santa Fe, particularly Native artists who live in this area where their families can actually come in and see the pieces… and from donors who have collected widely and want their pieces to be somewhere where they can be memorialized and shown forever.”
Native American jewelry can also be seen (and purchased) at the Wheelwright’s Case Trading Post, the oldest continuously run Indigenous art shops in Santa Fe. Expect to find a wide range of Native art for purchase including many generational items that the museum has purchased directly from master artists.
“Many of the artists have been coming for years and years and years,” says Ken Williams (Northern Arapaho and Seneca), Case Trading Post shop manager. “Their parents came, and their parents came before that” to the Wheelwright’s shop that dates back to the 1970s. Today, the Case Trading Post sells, at various price points, jewelry, pottery, textiles, baskets, paintings, and catalogues from current and previous exhibitions.
Case Trading Post will also have a presence during the centennial edition of the Santa Fe Indian Market, scheduled to take place the third weekend of August 2022 in and around the historic Santa Fe Plaza. The second annual Case Trading Post Artists Market will feature well-known and respected Native artisans selling their art from 8 am to 3 pm Friday, August 19 and from 9 am to 3 pm Saturday, August 20. An official roster of artists can be found on the Artists Market webpage. Additionally, the Wheelwright will hold its forty-seventh annual benefit event from Wednesday, August 17 through Friday, August 19, 2022.