Photo by Jason Wheeler.
It’s time to bid on some vintage handcrafted items at the Smoki Museum’s annual Spring Navajo Rug and Indian Art Auction on Saturday, March 19. The largest fundraiser for the museum, 147 N. Arizona Ave., the auction begins at noon, with a preview from 9 to 11 a.m. Packed with items from rugs to Yavapai baskets, the auction is free, open to the public and has something for everyone.
The March auction has become more popular than the other auctions the museum holds later in the year, Smoki Museum Executive Director Cindy Gresser said, adding that over the years, the auction has morphed and it used to include saddles and cowboy gear.
“But the Indian art and Navajo rugs have really risen to the cream of the crop and that’s what we’ve been able to focus on and really is our specialty,” Gresser said. “Here in Prescott, we’re blessed that we get this quality of items. People search the entire West for rugs of this quality and of this age particularly. They’re difficult to find.”
The auction has some rugs that are more than 100 years old as well as rugs that came off the loom just days ago, Auction Chair Linda Young said.
Sales from last year’s auctions grossed more than $180,000, Gresser said. She believes that this auction will knock it all out of the park with the quality of items that are available. That includes bronze art from an artist whose work is currently on display at the Phippen Museum.
While not all the lots are filled up every year, the museum has been swamped with good quality items for this auction, Young said. She’s even had to turn a few people away, and they’ll be back for September’s auction, she said.
“There are items that will sell for under $100 and there’s items that will sell for thousands,” Young said. “There’s something for everybody in there, plus a really good opportunity for people to learn about Indian arts and culture if they’re interested.”
Young said she loves to look at everything that’s up for auction as well as hear the stories that the consigners and weavers tell.
The auction’s supporting of Indian art is essential to the Smoki Museum’s mission, Gresser said.
“By promoting the older arts, we’re hoping to encourage the kids to appreciate these things, appreciate the stories that your grandma is telling you, listen to what she has to say,” she said. “When she offers to teach you how to weave a rug, learn it. Take a lesson and keep these wonderful traditional arts going. That’s really important as well.”