Desert Caballeros Western Museum

photos by John Hazeltine

Wickenburg, AZ




Navajo Weavings from the Getzwiller Collection


Steve Getzwiller with weaving from the exhibition


Desert Caballeros Western Museum is extremely proud to announce the opening of "Navajo Weavings from the Getzwiller Collection."

Navajo weavings tell the stories of a nation. Struggles, triumphs, and beliefs of a people are woven into their rugs and blankets. The colors and patterns of the weavings are paintings of life, as truly as if the artist had held a brush to canvas.

The first-ever exhibit of Navajo rugs and other weavings from the private collection of noted collector Steve Getzwiller traces the many historical influences that have shaped the evolution of the highly prized Native American weavings. Michael Ettema, Executive Director of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, said, "The majority of these rugs, blankets and clothing items have never been displayed before, and we are very excited to be the first venue to make them available for view.

The exhibit, which runs from Jan. 23 through April 11, 1999, consists of 40 spectacular historical and contemporary rugs and weavings. They express the culture and artistry of the Navajo people, as well as demonstrate how dealing with traders has influenced the design and quality over time. The exhibit covers Navajo weavings from before traders, transitional weavings, such as classic wearing blankets and floor rugs made from commercial wool, and the influences responsible for the development of regional styles, such Ganado, Crystal and Teec Nos Pos. According to Ettema, "Most people probably believe that the intricate designs and colors that comprise Navajo weavings emanate from the artists alone, but that is hardly the case. The rugs that are so highly valued today are the product of more than a century of give and take between Navajo artists, the traders who buy and sell them, and the purchasers. Pattern, color choices and even the materials and dyes from which the rugs are made have evolved in response to market influences as much as they have from the artists' own insight. No one has been able to document this better than Steve Getzwiller through his own efforts at collecting."

Getzwiller, a native Arizonan raised on a cattle ranch in southeastern Arizona, first became involved with collecting and dealing Navajo weavings more than 25 years ago. During the intervening period, he has sought out the finest examples available, developing a reputation for handling only the highest quality textiles. He has become a driving force behind many of the newest innovations in Navajo weaving, working diligently to improve the quality of the Navajo weavers and the understanding of the development of their art.

This exhibit, the first of two exhibits to be mounted from the Getzwiller collection, will include many examples of historic weavings. Weavings such as children's blankets, chiefs' blankets, single and double saddle blankets, rugs and Germantown and Transitional pieces will be included in this premier exhibit at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum.

Read more about the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Resource Library

Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2008 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.