This Just In, William Spratling Wasn’t Mexican

He Was as Everyone Knows…A Caucasian and an American

So what’s my Point?

A Very  Short Story: Last night I was at the Art of Americas Show in San Rafael, a wonderful collage of old and new Native American Crafts work from baskets to bracelets and everything in between.

Everything here is suppose to have been made by Native American Artisans. And that’s fine by me. Where I took a bit of an exception was after having a short  conversation with Martha Hopkins Struever. She is wonderful and venerable…and sharp as a tack, by the way…

I showed her a bracelet by Barry Petri, and she was very much impressed.  She very much liked it, she said that it was of outstanding workmanship, and that it was rare to see silver work such as that made by Barry Petri. She then asked who Barry Petri was, and when informed that he was an old white guy making jewelry in Southern Colorado she said that she did not offer for sale works by Non Native Americans in her gallery, because there simply was no market for them in Sana Fe…

At Indian Market, at the Heard Museum Show…at The Art of the Americas Show…There is no room for Barry Petri, or non-native silver artisans of his caliber.  But remember, William Spratling, Matilde Poulat, Margo De Taxco, these people were not Mexican…They were not born in Taxco, but were rather drawn there for various reasons. And what would we remember of Taxco today, if Mr. Spratling had not gone there.

From Time To Time I’ll Write More On This Subject…

Martin Codina

4 Responses to This Just In, William Spratling Wasn’t Mexican

  1. Diane White February 29, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Yes, without Spratling coming to Taxco, I’m afraid that the concept of the taller would have never been born and we would not have the work of the many wonderful Mexican silversmiths – especially Los Castillo.

    I have no issue and support non Native Americans showing their craft at shows that are not exclusive to those who are native. However, I do support and understand as a gallery owner – especially in Santa Fe those who would prefer to carry only Native American produced items.

    More than anything there are numerous shops who carry jewelry by non Native Americans that is southwest in flavor and design, yet very few who exclusively specialize in work by Native Americans – like Keshi.

    The Native Americans continue to struggle to get exposure and visibility to showcase their work. Very few can afford the cost of travel, and booth cost for major shows, so they depend heavily on the local galleries.

    No doubt there is talented and superb work being done by people like Barry Petri and Valerie and Benny Aldrich. I own an Aldrich work myself.

    • Ster925 February 29, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

      Hello Diane,

      Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post.

      Without laboring the point too much, I agree there is greater access to large Metropolitan Jewelry Markets for Non Natives…Exclusivity, particularly in the Southwest for Native American Jewelry just makes good business sense; but does keep us separate I think…the Trading Post, although I have only been in a few during my travels, seems too tight of an economic loop…a lot like the Company Store of old…

      The workshops of Taxco may also have had that sort of phenomenology, but there were those, both Mexican and Other Nationalities who arose up out of that – who were able to be identified with “Taxco Silver” as a category of jewelry making regardless of ethnicity…



      • Diane White February 29, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

        Yes indeed – who knows if the other expats – Margot and Fred Davis, would have had the success had they not moved to Taxco. to be associated with movement of Taxco Silver. There was of course the Modernist movement happening with silversmiths here in America. Who knows, maybe they would have still had their place in the sun had they stayed state side. But then again, their style and influence of course would not have been the same. From one who loves and own their pieces, I for one, am thankful they landed where they did!!!

        • Ster925 February 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

          And I as well…I as well…Cheers!

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