Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Confluence

Extreme motion sickness has always been part of my life. When I was just a boy, Duke and Rose knew to place me next to an open window if we were navigating a long and winding road. Neglecting to do so risked breaking out the Haz Mat cleanup kit. Roller coasters, and even ferris wheels, made be violently ill. Small planes threatened to undo me altogether. Once, thinking I could wean myself of the affliction, I rode a spinning carnival attraction until I could no longer stand upright. For weeks I was out of balance and walked with a noticeable list.
Confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers
So it was to great howls of laughter that I announced my decision to begin private pilot lessons in the fall of 1991. “What, are you crazy?” was the general response. “No,” I defensively responded to the naysayers, “I am not insane. They tell me I can overcome this scourge with time and persistence.” I was driving to Salt Lake City twice a month to see my daughter Dacia, so I decided to marry those trips with flying lessons, saving time and conquering my mobility demon all in one stroke.

During the flights, my instructor routinely diverted us over the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers. This convergence takes place in one of the most remote and strikingly beautiful locations in the world. Indeed, referring to the site where the two canyons meet, legendary explorer John Wesley Powell wrote, “What a world of grandeur is spread before us - wherever we look there is but a wilderness of rocks; deep gorges, where the rivers are lost below cliffs and towers and pinnacles; and ten thousand strangely carved forms in every direction. . . . “

At some point I came to see Twin Rocks Trading Post as a confluence, a place where many influences run together in a spectacular mashup of culture, art, history and personalities. Although it would have been easier, and likely more profitable, to maintain a cultural separation, to require the artists to stay in customary channels and to ensure the creative levees were not breached, Barry and I elected to open the floodgates and let things take their natural course.

When it came to Navajo basketry, rug weaving, silversmithing and folk art, our goal was to give the artists maximum freedom, to set their imaginations free and to expand their horizons beyond anything they had known before. While Barry and I may have balked a time or two, if someone came in with a new idea our response was almost universally, “Make it!”

In what is a traditionally conservative industry, Barry and I became business liberals. Our otherwise cautious family members, not to mention our bankers, fretted, wondering whether our newly adopted commercial ideals might infect other segments of our lives. This is, after all, Utah, reddest of the red states, and liberals of any stripe are unfamiliar.

The results, however, spoke for themselves; Navajo rugs like none that had ever been seen, Navajo baskets featuring innovative designs and shapes that had not been woven prior to that time, jewelryfolk art that made you laugh out loud. Barry and I were stunned by the creative torrent that was unleashed. Feeling a bit like John Wesley Powell, we surveyed the artistic landscape and found it unbelievable, indescribable, unpredictable.

While I never got over the motion sickness and had to eventually abandon my goal of unrestrained flying, I have never forgotten those flights over the confluence or the way they influenced my thinking about trading post operations, culture and art.
With warm regards,
Steve, Barry, Priscilla and Danny; The Team

Great New Items! This week's selection of Native American art!
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Enjoy artwork from our many collector friends in Living with the Art!

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