Friday, June 8, 2012

Which Is Your Favorite?

The other day I was asked to speak to a Crow Canyon Archeological Center group.  The folks at Crow Canyon, which is located in Cortez, Colorado, are focused on education, and frequently bring people to Twin Rocks Trading Post for a bit of shopping or to Twin Rocks Cafe for a bite to eat.  As far as we are concerned, they are a great organization, and their tour director, Sarah, is a genuine sweetheart.  This particular gathering was associated with the Field Museum of Chicago.

Steve and I usually tackle these groups together, but he and Grange were at wrestling camp in Delta, Utah.  Without any backup, I was a bit nervous about speaking to such an academic crowd.  Priscilla would not be in until later, so it was up to me to inspire the group.  The theme that day was the role of trading posts in the past, present and future.  They were also interested in our trading post's interaction with local artists and its influence on Southwest art.  The group was lively, opinionated and outspoken.  I love talks like this, because the people direct the discussion and are not afraid to speak their minds while lifting the covers on controversial issues.  In situations like these I learn a great deal and gain a broader, more diverse, perspective.  Before long I became less apprehensive and fell into a relaxed attitude.  We talked nearly an hour, and covered topics ranging from rugs and baskets to jewelry.

As we finished our discussion, one of Crow Canyon's directors asked an interesting question.  Making a broad sweep of the trading post with his arm, he asked, "Of all of the wonderful items you have in the store, which is your favorite?"  The group refocused, and looked upon me to reveal our greatest and most desirable treasure.  I stared at the director dumbly, thought a moment, and then thought a few moments more.  As the group waited patiently, an uneasy silence fell over the room.  Finally I replied, "I don't think I can do that."  Everyone acted as if I had let them down.  It seemed I might end the discussion on a sour note. 

Trying to regain my composure and recapture my audience, I stammered, "I really don't look at things that way."  I went on to explain that, "It's like attempting to pick my favorite child; each is unique, and the love and appreciation I have for them is based on time spent together, experience and their individual characteristics."  That comment seemed to make the group reconsider.  Someone asked, "Do you really take these things that personally?"  "Indeed I do.  Try me", I replied.  Someone pointed to a string of turquoise beads resting on a shelf beneath the glass and asked, "What about those?" "They are truly special", I said.  I went on to explain how I purchased the raw turquoise from Nevada Cassidy, who had picked and shoveled it from his Stone Mountain mining claim located in the high desert landscape of Lyon County, Nevada.  Priscilla and I then sorted the stones into three separate color categories and delivered them to Ray Lovato.  Ray chastised me openly, telling me I knew nothing about bead rock and should not bother with such things.  Two weeks, several telephone calls and numerous off-color jokes later, Ray returned with the finished product.  Grudgingly he agreed, "That is really nice rock!"

"What about that butterfly basket?", someone asked, pointing to an Elsie Holiday weaving.  "I love that basket", I said, "and if it had been left to me it probably would not be setting there right now."  I explained how, in Navajo culture, the butterfly represents personal growth, education, rebirth and the discovery of beauty and harmony.  The reason that gorgeous basket might not otherwise be on the shelf is that Elsie and I suffer a clash of personalities.  I struggle with Elsie's lack of financial responsibility, and am certain Elsie sees me as a tight-fisted, unsympathetic trader.  It is fortunate for Elsie, me and our customers that Steve gets along well with both of us.  He is the intermediary.  The butterfly reminds me that both Elsie and I have room to grow, and lots of beauty yet to discover.

"And this rug?", someone asked, holding a weaving by Rosalind Lansing.  Picking it up, I noted, "That is special in several ways.  It is completely hand-spun, and displays both naturally blended colors and vegetable dyes.  Hand-spun means the weaver sheared the sheep, cleaned, carded, spun and dyed the wool before she began to weave.  There is an extraordinary amount of time and effort in that textile.  Another reason that is special to me is that our sister Susan and I bought it from Rosalind over 32 years ago.  Susan loved it so much she took it home and lived with it all those years, displaying it in her house.  She is letting it go because she moved to Phoenix and downsized her living space.  The rug reminds me of my sister, whom I am extremely fond of."

People do not often realize how personally Craig, Steve and I take our business.  Each and every piece of art at Twin Rocks has a story, a history representing interactions with the artists and their crafts.  There is also family history here, and that is extremely important to us.  So, when someone asks which piece of art, or which artist, is our favorite, don't be surprised if we can't pin it down.  We love them all, and, as happens when you open a photo album, you are going to hear a story about each and every rug, basket and item of jewelry we carry, along with its trading post history.  If you ask, be prepared to hear the provenance of our products, because we care about then and will do our darnedest to place them where they are well received and greatly appreciated.

With warm regards,
Barry, Steve 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!


grandmom k said...

I've been watching for this on FB.
I really like this commentary because
I like the way you look at 'things'
through the people who make them meaningful
Thanks .... again

grandmom k said...

I love the world view where you see
' things' through the people who
give them the value that matters most
in addition to any
inate beauty or even use.