Indian rug and art aficionados will have a vast selection to bid on today, including a rare bronze sculpture of Gail Gardner and Sen. Barry Goldwater as Smoki dancers, at Smoki Museum's 15th annual auction of native craftsmanship.
Previews for the Navajo Rug and Indian Art Auction start at 9 a.m. and the art auction begins at 11 a.m. After a brief break, the Navajo rug auction begins at 1 p.m.
More than 300 rugs in all styles, sizes and price ranges - some vintage and some right off the loom - will go on the auction block, auction chair Linda Young said.
"People who are interested in vintage rugs like this auction. We have a good selection," she said.
Most of the older rugs are from the Prescott area and come from ranches, estates and ordinary people who want to downsize their households. Some rug bidding will start below $100 for smaller ones, while bidding for others may go all the way to $10,000 or more. Most are under the $1,000 price range, and the majority of the rugs are crafted by Arizona weavers from the Navajo Reservation, Young said.
Designs in the rugs, such as two gray mountains, hills and Chinle, are quite recognizable, Young said, and others are pictorials depicting life on the reservation in some way - cows, dance scenes, trucks - are in the auction collection. One rug has a train in it, Young said.
"This is the time to collect," Young said, because the "prices are right. "Five years ago, the prices were much higher than now," because of the economic recession.
Ages of rugs may date back to the 1880s, and newer ones may have been finished just last week. Some may have been crafted by master weavers and others by beginners. A number of the weavers will be on hand today to meet the public.
"Exciting things" among art pieces will be up for bid, one of which is the 12-inch-high bronze sculpture - "The Dancers" - depicting Gardner, a founder of the Smoki People, and Smoki People member Goldwater as Smoki dancers. This sculpture has been in the hands of a private collector.
It is a very rare piece and was number 3 in a casting of only 24, Cindy Gresser, executive director of Smoki Museum said. Local artist Pat Haptonstall created the piece in 1986, and the museum has the provenance - when it was created and who has owned it - of the sculpture, Young said.
The art auction will also offer an 18-inch bronze of a Pueblo woman holding a basket of corn, and a Mohave Indian effigy pot, "in perfect condition," that is a figure wearing a bead necklace and earrings and has marks indicating tattoos on its face.
Beyond these pieces, the art auction also features jewelry, such as squash blossom and heishi necklaces, pottery, baskets, kachinas and pipes.
The event is free and open to the public. The museum is located at 147 N. Arizona Ave. Registered bidders wil get 10 percent off in the museum's Trading Post Gift Shop. For more information about the annual rug and art auction, call the museum at 445-1230 or log onto www.smokimuseum.org.