Friday, December 13, 2013

Introducing our New Intern - Valerie Thompson - Christmas 2013

Hi, I’m Valerie. I am a college senior attending Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and when I graduate in May I will have a degree in Journalism with minors in both Studio Art and French. While I was born in Dallas to two American parents, I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia – where my father moved for work, and where I spent most of my life until I went away to college. During high school, I was fortunate enough to spend time in several different countries, including India, France and Canada on cultural and linguistic student exchange programs as well as participating in a weeklong service project at an Aboriginal community in northern South Australia. My keen interest in travel and other cultures has continued throughout college, and I spent this past summer studying abroad, taking photography and culture classes in Bali, Indonesia. Having had a passion for photography and further developing this during my college years, I hope to continue practicing and honing my skills after graduation.

Introducing our New Intern - Samantha Mason - Christmas 2013

Samantha Mason has been selected as an intern at ArtTrak for the spring of 2014. She is currently a senior at the University of Dallas working towards her degree in Business Leadership. During Samantha’s high school years she took Art I-IV, an AP senior art class and participated in several art competitions. Samantha was on track to pursue a major in Art and Art History at the University of Dallas, but an interest in business shifted her interests at the last minute in that direction. Throughout her college years, Samantha has been involved in many extracurricular activities such as Division III Women’s Lacrosse, multiple on-campus clubs, and a few intern positions on and off campus. She spent a semester abroad in Rome, Italy where she was able to experience a diversity of cultures as well as study Roman and Greek art and architecture. As an intern at ArtTrak, Samantha looks forward to being able to pursue her passion for the arts and business through the understanding of  how  the gallery operates in the sale, appraisal, and authentication of art.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Drones for Christmas

This week Jeff Bezos announced Amazon might be delivering your packages to your door via drones. This summer drones were used in Peru to monitor archaeological sites. Clancy has added bug size drones to his spy stories and civil libertarians are speculating about the loss of privacy. Forget about it this door will never be shut and I guess that's both good and ad. 

(Reuters) - "In Peru, home to the spectacular Inca city of Machu Picchu and thousands of ancient ruins, archaeologists are turning to drones to speed up sluggish survey work and protect sites from squatters, builders and miners.
Remote-controlled aircraft were developed for military purposes and are a controversial tool in U.S. anti-terrorism campaigns, but the technology's falling price means it is increasingly used for civilian and commercial projects around the world.
Small drones have been helping a growing number of researchers produce three-dimensional models of Peruvian sites instead of the usual flat maps - and in days and weeks instead of months and years.
Speed is an important ally to archaeologists here. Peru's economy has grown at an average annual clip of 6.5 percent over the past decade, and development pressures have surpassed looting as the main threat to the country's cultural treasures, according to the government.
Researchers are still picking up the pieces after a pyramid near Lima, believed to have been built some 5,000 years ago by a fire-revering coastal society, was razed in July by construction firms. That same month, residents of a town near the pre-Incan ruins of Yanamarca reported that informal miners were damaging the three-story stone structures as they dug for quartz.
And squatters and farmers repeatedly try to seize land near important sites like Chan Chan on the northern coast, considered the biggest adobe city in the world.
Archaeologists say drones can help set boundaries to protect sites, watch over them and monitor threats, and create a digital repository of ruins that can help build awareness and aid in the reconstruction of any damage done.
"We see them as a vital tool for conservation," said Ana Maria Hoyle, an archaeologist with the Culture Ministry.
Hoyle said the government plans to buy several drones to use at different sites, and that the technology will help the ministry comply with a new, business-friendly law that has tightened the deadline for determining whether land slated for development might contain cultural artifacts.
Commercial drones made by the Swiss company senseFly and the U.S. firms Aurora Flight Sciences and Helicopter World have all flown Peruvian skies.
Drones are already saving archaeologists time in mapping sites - a crucial but often slow first step before major excavation work can begin. Mapping typically involves tedious ground-level
observations with theodolites or pen and paper.
"With this technology, I was able to do in a few days what had taken me years to do," said Luis Jaime Castillo, a Peruvian archaeologist with Lima's Catholic University and an incoming deputy culture minister who plans to use drones to help safeguard Peru's archaeological heritage.
Castillo started using a drone two years ago to explore the San Jose de Moro site, an ancient burial ground encompassing 150 hectares (0.58 square miles) in northwestern Peru, where the discovery of several tombs of priestesses suggests women ruled the coastal Moche civilization.
"We have always wanted to have a bird's-eye view of where we are working," said Castillo.
In the past, researchers have rented crop dusters and strapped cameras to kites and helium-filled balloons, but those methods can be expensive and clumsy. Now they can build drones small enough to hold with two hands for as little as $1,000.
"It's like having a scalpel instead of a club, you can control it to a very fine degree," said Jeffrey Quilter, an archaeologist with Harvard University who has worked at San Jose de Moro and other sites in Peru. "You can go up three meters and photograph a room, 300 meters and photograph a site, or you can go up 3,000 meters and photograph the entire valley."
Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs, have flown over at least six different archaeological sites in Peru in the past year, including the colonial Andean town Machu Llacta some 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) above sea level.
Peru is well known for its stunning 15th century Machu Picchu ruins, likely a getaway for Incan royalty that the Spanish were unaware of during their conquest, and the Nazca Lines in southern Peru, which are best seen from above and were mysteriously etched into the desert more than 1,500 years ago.
But archaeologists are just as excited about other chapters of Peru's pre-Hispanic past, like coastal societies that used irrigation in arid valleys, the Wari empire that conquered the Andes long before the Incas, and ancient farmers who appear to have been domesticating crops as early as 10,000 years ago.
With an archaeology budget of around $5 million, the Culture Ministry often struggles to protect Peru's more than 13,000 sites. Only around 2,500 of them have been properly marked off, according to the ministry.
"And when a site is not properly demarcated, it is illegally occupied, destroyed, wiped from the map," said Blanca Alva, an official with the ministry charged with oversight.
Steve Wernke, an archaeologist with Vanderbilt University exploring the shift from Incan to Spanish rule in the Andes, started looking into drones more than two years ago.
He tried out a drone package from a U.S. company that cost around $40,000. But after the small plane had problems flying in the thin air of the Andes, Wernke and his colleague, engineer Julie Adams, teamed up and built two drones for less than $2,000.
The drones continue to have altitude problems in the Andes, and Wernke and Adams now plan to make a drone blimp.
"There is an enormous democratization of the technology happening now," Wernke said, adding that do-it-yourself websites like have helped enthusiasts share information.
"The software that these things are run on is all open-source. None of it is locked behind company patents," he said.
There are some drawbacks to using drones in archaeology. Batteries are big and short-lived, it can take time to learn to work with the sophisticated software and most drones struggle to fly in higher altitudes.
In the United States, broader use of drones has raised privacy and safety concerns that have slowed regulatory approvals. Several states have drafted legislation to restrict their use, and one town has even considered offering rewards to anyone who shoots a drone down.
But in Peru, archaeologists say it is only a matter of time before drones replace decades-old tools still used in their field, and that the technology can and should be used for less destructive uses.
"So much of the technology we use every day comes from warfare," said Hoyle. "It is natural this is happening."
Some of the first aerial images taken of Peru's archaeological sites also have their roots in combat.
The Shippee-Johnson expedition in 1931 was one of several geographic surveys led by U.S. military pilots that emerged from the boom in aerial photography during World War I. It produced reams of images still used by archaeologists today.
After seeing one of those pictures at a museum in New York some 10 years ago, Wernke decided he would study a town designed to impose Spanish culture on the indigenous population in the 1570s. He describes it as "one of the largest forced resettlement programs in history."
"I went up the following year to see it and found the site, and I said, 'OK, that's going to be a great project once I can afford to map it," said Wernke. He said drones have mapped nearly half of his work site. "So it all started with aerial images in the '30s, and now we want to go further with UAVs."

Peruvian archaeologists are using small, remote-controlled aircraft to transform their understanding of sites. Luis Jaime Castillo of Lima’s Catholic University works with Harvard researchers at Cerro Chepén, a mountaintop site inhabited more than 1,200 years ago by the Moche people. The complex site has multiple components arrayed across difficult terrain, with a fortress at the summit and residences on the slopes—a serious challenge to any archaeological mapping effort.
Drone Moche Site Map
(Courtesy San José de Moro Archaeological Project)
Castillo’s team used a small multicopter to take 700,000 low-altitude aerial photos of the site in just 10 minutes, nearly 50 times more than his team had captured with traditional ground-based photography in four dig seasons. Castillo then stitched the images together to create detailed 3-D models. “You can see every wrinkle of the site,” he says. “You can model every single stone.”

Detroit Bankruptcy Update - Christmas 2013

DETROIT—"The most powerful man in the Motor City says he has one regret since driving into town in March."I probably underestimated the level of support and the willingness of the majority of the citizenry to see us move forward," Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr said in an interview late last month.
The jury, however, is still out on whether the 55-year-old corporate-bankruptcy attorney from suburban Washington can navigate the city of 700,000 through a bankruptcy reorganization unparalleled in U.S. history.
Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr spoke to reporters after a court ruling allowed the city's bankruptcy to proceed. In an interview before the ruling, he said, "I probably underestimated the level of support and the willingness of the majority of the citizenry to see us move forward." Reuters

More on Detroit's Bankruptcy

To be sure, Mr. Orr and his boss, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, scored a sweeping win Tuesday when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes ruled that Detroit, the largest city to file for municipal bankruptcy, is eligible to reduce its $18 billion in long-term obligations under court protection. Most critically, the judge affirmed Mr. Orr's authority as emergency manager as well as his power to cut future payments to city pension funds, with court approval.
But the judge, in his 143-page opinion, also criticized Mr. Orr.
"At the June 10, 2013, community meeting, Mr. Orr was asked a direct question—what is going to happen to the City employee's pensions?" the judge wrote. "Mr. Orr responded that pension rights are 'sacrosanct' under the state constitution and state case law, misleadingly not stating that upon the City's bankruptcy filing, his position would be quite the opposite."
The judge also found that Mr. Orr misled another questioner when he said in the same June meeting that the city's chances of bankruptcy were 50-50. Mr. Orr, the judge wrote, knew "in fact there was no chance" of avoiding a Chapter 9 filing.
Mr. Orr has acknowledged using the term "sacrosanct" but said he always told people in meetings that all options for the city were on the table. "People have taken that one statement out of line," Mr. Orr said in the interview last month.
There are signs Mr. Orr still thinks his tenure in Detroit will be a short one. He lives out of a hotel and flies home to his family in Maryland on weekends. The only personal effect in his 11th-floor office in city hall is a picture behind his desk of his son's soccer team. He has said that he hopes to complete his work by the fall of 2014.
Detroit's current and incoming mayor have questioned whether Mr. Orr should be managing the bankruptcy

and running the city while Detroit's elected officials remain on the payroll. Mr. Orr has kept many officials,
including Mayor Dave Bing, in their posts but has also hired experts of his own to help manage the city.
"I think I know more about city government than he does, because I've been here 4½ years. He could have utilized what I learned to help him," Mr. Bing said last month, adding that "running city government is not [Mr. Orr's] strength."
In January, Mike Duggan will take over as mayor. Though he has said he is strongly opposed to the emergency-manager law, he is pledging to help Mr. Orr.
"Every turnaround starts when the leaders face reality as it is and not as you wish it to be, and the reality as it is is that the emergency manager is in charge," Mr. Duggan said. "If I'm going to improve city services, I'm going to deal with reality as it is."
So far, Mr. Orr has been welcoming but noncommittal about Mr. Duggan's future role in the city. He declined to say whether he would take the mayor-elect up on an offer to become Mr. Orr's chief operating officer and run the city day to day.
Up next, Mr. Orr and his team are putting potential price tags on the city's assets, including its art collection, and negotiating with creditors in court-ordered mediation. Meanwhile, he continues to try to improve city services.
Since taking office in March, Mr. Orr said crime has dropped, streetlights have been relit, blighted structures razed and millions in public and private dollars collected to lease new police cars and fund small businesses.
Many parts of city government—water, transportation, public lighting, trash pickup and more—could be taken over by authorities and private contractors, officials say. Other capital projects, including a new public-private light-rail system in downtown Detroit and a proposed professional hockey-arena complex, are on track, according to officials.
But Mr. Orr has also drawn some darts for pushing through a long-term lease with the state for the city's premier island park, Belle Isle, and hiring auction house Christie's to value the city-owned collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts for a potential sale. Mr. Orr has said he would prefer not to sell the city's art.
The fate of the city's pension holders has also been a contentious issue. Mr. Orr said in the interview that he is sticking by his estimate that the city owes the pension funds $3.5 billion, with almost no way to pay the bill.
Other challenges ahead for Mr. Orr include gaining court approval for refinancing $350 million in secured debt and raising new money to pay off what the city still owes. Both moves are expected to be opposed by some creditors at court hearings later this month.
But the largest question looming for the city is how Mr. Orr will draft his overall plan to cut the city's long-term obligations and revamp its infrastructure. The plan expected by early January is likely to include $1.25 billion earmarked for reducing crime and eradicating vacant and dangerous structures, which Mr. Orr hopes to complete within three years.
One thing is for certain, according to Mr. Orr: Bankruptcy was the only prescription for the city's ills.
"I think, without a doubt, it was necessary for the city," he said."

Update December 12, 2013

Detroit Institute of Arts officials confirmed Wednesday they’ve met with federal bankruptcy mediators over a plan to safeguard the museum’s art from sale, but some local cultural leaders are concerned that what’s good for the DIA might not be so good for them.

For weeks, Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen has been in talks with local and national foundations about a plan under which they would put up the lion’s share of money, perhaps as much as $500 million, to satisfy Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s demand that the DIA contribute to the city’s path out of bankruptcy.

But in a world with finite resources, local cultural leaders — who express great affection for the city-owned museum — worry that largesse on a scale necessary to rescue the DIA could mean sharply reduced foundation grants for everyone else.

“If the DIA can come up with this grand bargain,” said Vincent Paul, president of the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, “I’ll be the first to toast it. I just don’t want to take a hit from it. There’s just a finite amount of money out there.”

At the Michigan Opera Theatre, founder and general director David DiChiera said if such a fund satisfied Orr’s requirement and the city relinquished ownership as part of any deal, he’d be all for it.

“But we all get support from these foundations,” DiChiera added. “We wouldn’t want to hear they have to reduce their support to us because they made this significant gift to the DIA.”

In a prepared statement Wednesday, the DIA acknowledged it met with mediators on Tuesday and said it would engage in vigorous fundraising to contribute to any fund — one of Orr’s stipulations.

Museum officials declined to comment further. Before the museum was invited into the negotiations last month, director Graham Beal told The Detroit News he applauded Rosen, saying: “It would be wonderful if someone could do something like this.” Rosen was appointed to help mediate the bankruptcy case by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes.

Local foundations reportedly in discussions with Rosen include Kresge, Hudson-Webber, Skillman, Mott, Kellogg and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. National organizations such as the Ford Foundation and Knight Foundation also are reportedly involved.

Foundation grants account for 10 percent of the $1.6 million in contributions the Music Hall raised last year, according to Paul. In that respect, he’s less exposed to any future cutback in grants than MOT, which pulled in a total of $4 million in contributions, of which 20 percent came from foundations. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra raised $18.9 million, with foundation dollars also making up 20 percent.

Overall, DSO vice president Paul Hogle takes an optimistic view, contending foundation giving isn’t a zero-sum game — a win for one is not necessarily a loss for another.

“The symphony and everyone else has an extraordinary case to make to any funding partner,” Hogle said. “Past history suggests foundations believe it’s a ‘both/and’ question, not an ‘either/or’ one.”

Negotiations on a DIA rescue package are ongoing, and likely to be affected not only by federal mediation, but also by Orr’s talks with creditors. Also bearing on how much Orr will require from the DIA will be Christie’s lower-than-expected appraisal of the museum’s top couple of thousand objects, which came in at $452 million to $866 million, far below the billions some predicted.

The problem with going to foundations in a crisis is that they plan several years out and usually can’t make abrupt shifts, said William Schambra, a senior scholar at the Hudson Institute, who studies bankruptcy. He noted the Troy-based Kresge Foundation, which has brought other national foundations into the city in recent years, already has a meticulous strategy for how and where it wants to invest in Detroit.

“They’ve said every grant they make in Detroit will be guided by that grand plan,” Schambra added. “What the court is saying to the foundations is almost insulting — in essence, ‘You guys have your grand plans for the city, and that’s all fine and good. But we desperately need cold hard cash right now.’ ”

Still, the fact that Rosen has invited the DIA into discussions may suggest more movement than some would have expected.

For his part, DiChiera has in mind one scenario involving rescue by a foundation that hasn’t been involved in a big way in Michigan for decades: Manhattan-based Ford Foundation, which is not connected to Ford Motor Co.

“I probably shouldn’t even say this,” DiChiera said, “but what a wonderful gesture it would be for a major foundation that came out of this community and has mostly been involved in the Third World to give a significant part of any rescue package. That way foundations that have contributed heavily to Detroit cultural institutions wouldn’t be as badly affected.”

From The Detroit News:

Hopi Mask Auction Update December 12, 2013

Arizona: Auctioned Artifacts to Be Returned to Tribes
PARIS December 10, 2013- "A day after more than 27 of their sacred artifacts were sold at a contested auction in Paris for $757,000, the Hopi and San Carlos Apache Indians of Arizona learned Tuesday that 24 of the items had been bought by a foundation that plans to return them to the tribes. The Hopi artifacts are colorful and intricate masklike items held to be imbued with divine spirits. Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, a vice president of the Los Angeles-based Annenberg Foundation, said it had decided to buy the items, at a cost of $530,000, once it became clear that the Paris auction house EVE would not delay the sale to allow the tribes time to gather proof that the items had been stolen from their lands long ago. “These are not trophies to have on one’s mantel,” he said. " Tom Mashburg for New York Times

Background on Gregory Annenberg Weingarten

Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, a Vice President and Director of the Annenberg Foundation, is dedicated to supporting innovative projects in the arts, education and humanitarian efforts.  From his Paris-based office, Gregory is among the most generous American contributors to France, as well as to organizations throughout the United States.
Gregory’s own experience as an artist has fostered a deep appreciation for the visual arts. Funding to the Musées des Arts Décoratifs in Paris has supported the creation of educational spaces within the museum, as well as two key acquisitions: “Deuxième Rhinocéros" by Francois-Xavier Lalanne, and “Barbie Foot,” by Chloé Ruchon.  As a champion of the unique bond between the United States and France, Gregory has helped to showcase American artists at the Centre National d'art et de Culture Georges Pompidou with the “Morphosis” show in 2006 and the 2009 exhibit of the late American sculptor Alexander Calder.
In the United States, Gregory has funded significant and signature projects by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), including the creation of a comprehensive digital archive of over 2,000 German Expressionist prints and drawings.  As a direct result of this project, MoMA launched the critically-acclaimed exhibition, “Expressionism:  The Graphic Impulse," in 2011.  As a founding donor of the French Regional American Museum Exchange, Gregory has created a legacy of promoting cultural diplomacy and fostering partnerships to develop exhibitions, innovative educational and public programs that reach a global audience.
Building on the belief in the power of education to transform lives, Gregory has supported projects at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, including research on Native American identity, and the creation of an Endowment Fund for Curator of the North American Section.  In an effort to energize educational outreach to underserved communities in Paris and across France, Gregory has partnered with the Musée du Louvre to develop state-of-the-art programming in schools and at the museum.
Gregory’s philanthropic work has reached more than 130 organizations across the globe.  This effort to create a vibrant partnership between France and America earned him the title of “Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters), awarded by French Minister of Culture Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres in 2007. In 2009, he was named Grand Mécène, Grand Donateur de la Culture, and that same year, his wife, Regina – a partner in his philanthropy, earned the prestigious “Legion of Honor” distinction.
Gregory graduated from Stanford with a degree in Political Science. He later worked as a journalist at the Times of London, before embarking on a career as an artist. He currently shows his work primarily in the U.S. and France.
Annenberg Foundation
The Annenberg Foundation is a family foundation that provides funding and support to non-profit organizations in the United States and around the world.[2] Some of the Foundation's core initiatives are the Annenberg/Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) project (now Annenberg Learner), which funds many educational television shows broadcast on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Public television in the United States as well as The Annenberg Community Beach House, The Annenberg Space for Photography, Metabolic Studio, and the upcoming Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts.
Walter H. Annenberg headed the Annenberg Foundation until his death in 2002. Leonore, his wife, ran it until her death in March 2009. Since then, the foundation's trusteeship has been led by Wallis Annenberg and three of her children: Lauren Bon, Gregory Annenberg Weingarten and Charles Annenberg Weingarten.
Chairman of the Board, President and CEO, Wallis Annenberg
Vice President and Director, Lauren Bon
Vice President and Director, Gregory Annenberg Weingarten
Vice President and Director, Charles Annenberg Weingarten

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wielgus Gun Collection Opens at Cody

This post is written by Jessica Tomberlin in celebration of the opening of the permanent installation of  the Ray Wielgus Gun collection at the Firearms Museum in Cody Wyoming at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. The installation, "Steel Sculptures: Engraving individuality from mass production", is an important addition to the collection.

Engraver Raymond Wielgus’s Steel Canvases Find a Home with Cody Firearms Museum
Raymond Wielgus and his wife Laura began collecting art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas beginning in the 1950s. Over the next twenty years, the couple would continue to acquire important works of Tribal art, eventually assembling one of the premier private collections of the United States.

“In his own words Ray described his collecting philosophy as the following: My aim in collecting is not to amass a great number of pieces, but to acquire a small group of objects that combine three admittedly intangible characteristics: aesthetic excellence, ethnographic or archaeological importance and that quality perhaps best described by the adjective ‘right’,” says ArtTrak Inc. owner and leading Tribal art dealer and appraiser, John Buxton.

Wielgus spent much of his working career as an industrial product designer before retiring to Tucson in 1970. There in Tucson, Wielgus began turning antique firearms into an artist canvas, engraving ornate designs into the steel, and hammering in gold through damascening - a process of inlaying metal to metal which originated from ancient cultures. Over a 34-year period, Wielgus practiced this artistry, and by the time of his death in 2010, he had a collection of over 60 elaborately engraved art guns. 

“Without any training Wielgus decided that he would take old guns and fix them up and then

embellish them with gold,” says Buxton. “As you might expect he had no desire to copy the artists that had gone before him. Instead, Ray was inspired by Art Noveau, Art Deco, and Archaic Chinese designs. By 1974 his first gun was completed and he was on his way to creating an extraordinary collection of totally original creations.”

“Raymond was interested in firearms not for shooting, but as little machines - he described them that way - and he also had an interest in collecting scientific machinery, and things like drawing instruments from 17th/18th century and navigational equipment, so he had an interest in finely made objects of all sorts,” says Jim Cook, artist and long time friend of Raymond Wielgus.
Wieglus’s collection transforms these “little machines” into works of art. Every aspect of the firearms was altered, down to the hand-carved ivory grips, creating a complete metamorphosis.
“I have to say that his taste is very broad, and he used many, many different sources, and some are entirely new inventions, so its fascinating to try and look at these things and try to figure out where they come from. The mechanics of his decorative techniques are very old, very traditional,” says Cook.

After Wieglus’s death, Jim Cook and John Buxton were made executors and tasked with finding a home for this unique collection of engraved firearms. They knew finding a perfect fit would prove challenging. “Jim and I decided with some careful consideration that the Firearms Museum in Cody Wyoming at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center was uniquely suited to showcase the Wielgus collection,” says Buxton.

It was the newly appointed Cody Museum Curator, Warren Newman, who ultimately helped to ease the minds of both Buxton and Cook, eventually leading them to chose the institution as the place to house the collection.

“Warren Newman certainly deserves a great deal of credit,” says Cook.  “He was inspired by the idea of the collection, and I think he was responsible for sort of turning the herd or the stampede in a way; he talked everyone into seeing it his way, and I know that Raymond would be pleased because it was his first choice, and it was John’s first choice and my first choice, so we’re very happy not only with the installation, but with the sprit of the institution. It is the sort of place where the collection needs to be.”

“We have a very large collection of firearms here, and some of them are beautifully engraved and inlayed, but its all pretty much the same in the more traditional foliate engraving, which features a lot of leaves and vines and animal depictions,” says Newman. “The Wielgus guns are engraved in a very unique and special way; he was an Asian and African art collector, and he researched back some three thousand years in artistic styles and developed a unique style, when I saw pictures of it, I
thought what a wonderful thing it would be to have this kind of engraving.” 
The museum exhibition - Steel Sculptures: Engraving individuality from mass production - includes 39 of Wielgus’s specially crafted firearms. In order to develop the desired artistic design, Wielgus often modified the functionality of the guns by immobilizing the cylinders that would ordinarily have to rotate to make them work, thus the guns in the Wieglus collection are the only firearms in the Cody Museum’s display that are not fully functional.

 “What I wanted to do is to have this display immediately adjacent to the traditional firearm engravings, and the idea was if young engravers, young artists, saw them and could compare the two…then my challenge to them would be to create even more innovative ways of ornamentation for firearms,” says Newman. “We have over 7,000 guns in this collection, and we keep all of them in pristine fully functional condition, so I think that’s interesting because not only are they along side traditional engravings, they’re alongside firearms that are functional, so the shift of emphasis goes from the action of a firearm to the artistry of what’s on the firearm.”
Newman says the reception of the collection has been outstanding thus far. “Its just amazing how many people stop there,” says Newman. “They are passing famous guns, presidential guns, and wonderfully embellished firearms with Western scenes and nature scenes, but once they get closer and closer to the exhibit they are attracted to his firearms as works of art.”
“Raymond viewed these objects as art, not as guns, says Cook. “The fact that they’re guns is important, but immaterial in a sense, and we wanted an institution that understood that this is art, and I believe Cody is that institution.”

Jessica Tomberlin

Monday, December 09, 2013

My Word Christmas 2013

The holiday season and the end of the year is always a time for thanks and reflection. This has been the best year from a business perspective since we opened for business in November of 1974. We now have two interns which you will meet in this Newsletter. It seems strange to even say that this summer we finished shooting season 18 of Antiques Roadshow and have plans to shoot many more. The gallery is also expanding into the auction business, so with all that we do in appraisals and authentications it looks like 2014 will be an exciting year.

The holiday season started this past week with family visits and an ice storm which was the worst in fifteen years  that literally shut down Dallas with over 250,000 homes losing power. We lost power twice and were camping out a bit dealing with temperatures in the low twenties and chill factors under 10. Ice was and still is everywhere. For you northerners that are challenging our collective manhood, try it all with not one sand truck anywhere in sight. These folks here don't do snow and ice. And this is early in our very short winter.

In this final Christmas issue of the Newsletter I have purposely avoided many of the topics we have covered in the blog. Because of  ongoing events we have updates here of both the Detroit bankruptcy
 and the Hopi mask sale in Paris.

Eve Auction House Owner Alain Leroy Interviewed on Hopi Sale in Paris

Owner: Katsinam 'Not Entitled to Specific Rights'

Today, an auction of American Indian art is occurring in Paris that will once again prove controversial -- as with a similar sale earlier this year, attempts to stop or delay the event have failed, and items sacred to the Hopi and other tribes will be sold to the highest bidders. This time, it's the auction house EVE that will be handling the sale.
A year ago, Eve's owner, discussing an auction called "From Yukon to Rio Grande," spoke with an ICTMN correspondent. “The French market views Native art in a different way than the American,” said Alain Leroy. “The French consider anthropological issues as secondary. The most important is the visual, aesthetic shock, from Yukon, to Rio Grande”.
In Paris, any collector experiencing an esthetic emotion, and a direct contact with an item, will buy it,” he added. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s Maori or Hopi.… And when you have the chance, you have to pick it up!”
An interesting interview with the Eve Auction House prior to the sale..

PARIS - ICTMN "The second auction of katsinam takes place on Monday, December 9, at 2pm -- in
other words, now -- at Salle Drouot, in Paris. Many of the pieces scheduled to go on the block were expected to sell in the range of 3,000 to 15,000 euros; higher-ticket items include "Jemez" (expected price: 15,000 to 20,000 euros), "Angwushshay" (expected price: 60,000 to 80,000 euros) and a group of four katsinam, “Pueblo Andamamae” (expected price: 60,000 to 80,000 euros). At a December 3 hearing, Survival International lawyer Pierre Servan Schreiber, argued against the sale, but his efforts failed to convince the French judge.
Prior to the current auction, Leroy took a few moments to speak with ICTMN, to describe his position on this sale and, more generally, on the sales of sacred items on the contemporary art market.
Maître Leroy, what is your perception of this new auction?
This auction is very similar to the last one ["From Yukon to Rio Grande"], with the same topic, related to the Southwest of the United States, with some more ancient pieces this time for that section, as well as Plains Indians objects, and pre Colombian art. Only twenty-five pieces were requested to be taken away from the auction this time.
How do you see the evolution of that market?
This area of the market attracts a growing audience; that is why we will continue the auctions. Today we have pieces from the Southwest, the Plains, the Eskimo, and all of the United States.
You declared, on television, that France being a secular country, there was no issue related to the religious, or “sacred” aspects of the objects, as these types of pieces have always been on the market. Furthermore, France respects Buddhism, Judaism, or any other religion, and those objects are no different -- thus, the request of Survival international was not valid?
That is what the judge said; cult, or “sacred” objects, are not excluded from the sales, because the state is secular, and does not privilege one religion over another. So those objects are not entitled to specific rights.
And it is a world position, as long as a state does not have a single state religion.
The United States respects all religions, but sacred objects are not prohibited from the sales there; the law says that they can be possessed by private owners, and can circulate on the market. It is in the Fifth Amendment. Sacred objects can be owned privately.
So your understanding is that there is no valid reason to accommodate Survival International’s request?
Well, I am not saying that, it is the judge who says so, referring to the law; she felt that it applied. Those objects are allowed to be sold in the United States. And in the first place, it would be appropriate to define how those pieces came out from their original locations.
Would not the bottom line of the debate be a fundamental conflict between the perception of the “sacred” among spiritual, or traditional societies, and the secular ones?
Well, yes, each person sees a religious object like he wishes to, according to his religion.
You mean that the katsina are looked at like any religious objects, in any religious institution, like for example, objects belonging to the Judeo Christian religion?
Yes: they are religious. What other meaning would there be? Each religion is the foundation of a people -- this is the principle of religions.
So your opinion is that this is just another kind of art, and with those pieces being part of an art trend, the present request is not legitimate, as it not part of modernity, and just restricted to a historical approach, a strict reference to history?
Certainly: Native American religions have followed an evolution. Like any other religion.


Hopi Auction - A French prespective

Unfortunately, this article reveals more bias than facts. Although Wikipedia is not my usual go to source for research information, they do a far better job than the French press. NAGPRA is complicated and as Wikipedia notes also not easy to interpret.

LONDON (Agence France-Presse ).- Activists vowed Thursday to block the proposed sale of sacred objects originating from Arizona's Hopi tribe at a Paris auction, just months after a similar controversy stoked outrage.

Tribal people's advocacy group Survival International said it would go to court in the French capital on Tuesday in an attempt to halt the sale of around 25 objects, known as katsinam, revered by the Hopi tribe.

The looming court battle is a replay of the legal saga that erupted in April when French firm Neret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou ignored internationals appeals to halt the sale of some 70 katsinam that eventually fetched around 930,000 euros ($1.3 million).

The latest sale is being conducted over two days by Alain Leroy of auctioneers EVE on December 9 and 11, despite please from the Hopi's religious authorities not to go ahead.

"It's a matter of enormous regret that another auction house seems prepared to defy public opinion and the feelings of the Hopi, who are these objects' rightful owners," Survival International director Stephen Corry said in a statement.

"The previous auction generated such a torrent of unwelcome publicity for the auctioneers that you might have thought anyone would think twice before doing the same thing again -- but clearly the large sums of money to be made from this immoral trade are too tempting.

"I hope the Paris courts will this time block the sale -- none of these objects should be sold."

Lawyer Pierre Servan-Schreiber, who led an unsuccessful bid to halt the previous sale in April, will head London-based Survival and the Hopi's latest courtroom battle.

Servan-Schreiber bought one of the katsinam sold at the April auction and later returned it to the Hopi.

The last auction was decried by activists, including Hollywood legend Robert Redford, who described it as a "criminal gesture" and "sacrilege."

The sale involved dozens of striking, brightly colored mask-like kachina visages and headdresses that the 18,000-strong Hopi say are blessed with divine spirits.

The challenge for the Hopi is that while the sale of sacred Indian artifacts has been outlawed in the United States since 1990 -- legislation that has allowed the tribe to recover items held by American museums in the past -- the law does not extend to sales overseas "

As noted above a bit misleading. .

NAGPRA defines Cultural Patrimony: "An object having ongoing historical, traditional, or cultural importance central to the Native American group or culture itself, rather than property owned by an individual Native American, and which, therefore, cannot be alienated, appropriated, or conveyed by any individual regardless of whether or not the individual is a member of the Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization and such object shall have been considered inalienable by such Native American group at the time the object was separated from such group. [25 USC 3001 (3)(D)]"

If the Hopi were to approach this in French court the way they would be required under NAGPRA in US court, they might have had more success in the first case and might have more success in the second. The central issue here is ownership.. whether it be by an individual or a group (clan). The truly fascinating question here is why aren't the Hopi pursuing this argument?.

Eve Paris Auction of Hopi Masks Goes Forward

This Reuters article is factually inaccurate on many levels; however, the point is that sale was not stopped. A little Google research might have helped the writer. We will have all the results when they are posted.

"Paris December 9, 2013. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann)
French auctioneers sold a trove of Hopi Native American artifacts on Monday over the objections of the Arizona tribe, which considers them sacred, and a last-minute appeal from the United States.
The sale of about three dozen masks dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries followed a judge’s dismissal of a legal challenge last week brought on behalf of the tribe to cancel the sale by the Eve auction house in Paris.
To the Hopi, who still live on the high desert of the Colorado Plateau in northeastern Arizona, the masks are sacred, representing messengers to the gods and the spirits of ancestors and natural forces, whether plants, animals or the sun.
“At some point this has got to stop,” Pierre Servan-Schreiber, a lawyer for the Hopi, told Reuters, referring to the auction of the masks, the second this year in Paris.
“After having massacred them two centuries ago, after having put them in reservations one century ago, you now deprive them of what is at the heart of their culture,” he said.
The masks, made of animal skins, fabric and other natural materials and adorned with feathers, horns and hair, are worn by dancers during religious ceremonies to mark the seasons. With slits for eyes, the masks are painted in shades of blue, red ochre, black and green.
One of the most impressive is a turquoise blue “Crow Mother” mask flanked by two crow-feather wings, dating from about 1860-70. In the auction catalogue, the mask was described as “one of the biggest masterpieces of tribal art”.  It sold for 100,000 euros ($136,800), above an original estimate of 60,000-80,000.
A black and red mask from 1910 decorated with the imprint of a hand sold for 29,000 euros, well above an estimate of 8,000-12,000 euros.
Over 20 sacred effigies, called Kachina dolls, from the Hopi and the neighboring Zuni tribe of New Mexico were also included in the sale, as well as items from Arizona’s San Carlos Apache tribe.
The U.S. Embassy in Paris sent a letter to Eve auctioneers on Saturday asking them to postpone the sale so that the tribes would have the time to study the provenance of the objects. At issue is whether the Hopi would be able to recover the artifacts under a 1970 UNESCO convention, which forbids the illegal sale of cultural property.
American actor Robert Redford supported the Hopi cause in April when 70 such masks were sold in Paris by the Neret-Minet & Tessier Sarrou auctioneers for 930,000 euros.