Friday, July 15, 2011

Turquoise Mosaic

Jana, Kira, Grange and I recently attended a wedding held at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Gallup, New Mexico. Posted over the entrance to the sanctuary is their mission statement, which begins, “We the members of the Roman Catholic Community of Sacred Heart Cathedral . . . like a mosaic, will blend our individual talents and multiple cultures to form a unified, working parish.”

Turquoise Mosaic

That statement started me thinking about mosaics in general, and specifically about a turquoise encrusted cow skull purchased not long after we built Blue Mountain Trading Post. It was the 1970s, and the Indian art business was booming. High quality turquoise was both plentiful and inexpensive. Artists and traders frequently combined resources to make squash blossom necklaces, bracelets and concho belts set with enough turquoise to exhaust the supply of a small mine. Stones from all major deposits; Morenci, Bisbee, Kingman, Cripple Creek and even Lander Blue were readily available and widely circulated.

Although much of the jewelry produced at the time was too large and heavy to be worn any appreciable length of time, the industry was not concerned with that particular complication. Nor were the customers, every woman had to have a set. Some of those monumental pieces can still be found hanging on the walls or residing in the display cases of trading posts that have survived the economic vicissitudes of the last forty years. They are a sight to behold. I recently saw a necklace fashioned during this phase that was large enough to fit an Amazon . It would have hung down to the knees of any ordinary woman, and there was enough blue in the stones to illuminate the sky.

As traders and artists exhausted their portfolio of concepts for over the top wearable art, they began scratching around for new ideas. One of the most interesting things I remember seeing during that period was turquoise inlaid skulls. I believe the original was a buffalo head featured on the cover of the January 1974 issue of Arizona Highways magazine. Once the idea caught on, however, there were cow, horse and even goat heads decorated in a similar fashion. That is when we aquired ours.

What fascinated me most about the skulls, and the mission statement of Sacred Heart Cathedral, was the concept of blending so many individual elements to form an unusual and intriguing outcome.

I often think of Twin Rocks Trading Post as a mosaic, with all the artistic personalities forming tiles of different colors, shapes and sizes, and its most interesting aspects becoming apparent only when the pieces are inspected independent of each other. Whether it is the calm, teacherly characteristics of Mary Holiday Black; the helter skelter nature of Elsie Holiday; the differing shades of Joann Johnson; the maticulous, steady pace of Allison Lee; or the wildly unpredictable creativity and madness of Lorraine Black, each segment of the trading post mosaic is fascinating in its individuality. Like that turquoise buffalo scull, our trading post mosaic is a striking, and strikingly complicated, work of art.

With warm regards,
Steve, Barry and The Team

Great New Items! This week's selection of Native American art!

Our TnT's purchased new treasures! Check out Traders in Training!

Enjoy artwork from our many collector friends in Living with the Art!

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