Battling the Imposters: Don't Let Fake Art Fool You
BE CAREFUL! People Sell Fake Art
Navajo silversmiths don’t own the rights to turquoise and silver jewelry. Just like the Amish don’t own the rights to wooden furniture. However, what they do own the rights to is calling their work authentic Indian Handmade, and that is where the injustices are made by con artist jewelry businesses who represent their merchandise as Indian Handmade when it's really fake art from a factory overseas.
I am a fan of reality (made to believe reality) television and have watched episodes of Amish Mafia. On one episode the Mafia had to deal with a scrupulous dealer who sold merchandise as Amish made, when in fact it was imported goods. It makes sense that the fake merchandise is sold in Amish country where you would naturally find authentic Amish handmade crafts. The same is true for Gallup, New Mexico the “Indian Capital of the World” where the market for imitations is ripe.
Gallup, New Mexico is Authentic Indian Art
Individual collectors and dealers from around the world come to Gallup to find their authentic Indian made arts. Advocates for Native American artists suggest a visit to the Chamber of Commerce to learn who the reputable dealers are. This is an excellent approach for your buying experience, but not every one makes that important Chamber visit. Gallup is filled with Indian themed jewelry stores and it can be overwhelming for the first time visitor as well as very exciting.
Some of the stories I have heard from dealers and collectors are horrifying because many of us in the industry work very hard to promote authentic Native American made art. I had an artist who told me that he visited a shop that had a number of his one-of-a-kind pieces for sale, and the only problem with that was he didn’t make one of them. On another occasion I had a wholesale customer who was shown a box full of the style of jewelry he was interested in buying, and the only problem with that was the jewelry had a little sticker with “Made in China” on it. The stores fix for that problem was that you could just take the sticker off and sell it as authentic, “no one will know”.
It is true that the fakes can look just like the genuine thing. Today is all about technology and that does not exclude jewelry making where machines can reproduce excellent replicas. In this town you can even art shop while you are eating at one of our great New Mexico cuisine restaurants and be bombarded with the fake art and merchandise by numerous solicitors.
We WORK hard to Sell the REAL Thing
The problem isn’t always about money where fake art can be had for a little less than the real things. I believe the problem lies in the competition of the business. We spend an enormous amount of time gaining the trust of artists and finding a price that keeps them bringing their art back and able to put a competitive price on the merchandise. Plus, they know we are going to represent their art and them honestly. Impostors don’t take the time to build a business relationship with the artists and in return cheat the system to compete.
Remember when you decide it is time to add to your collection of authentic art or fill your showcases with the “real” thing find the businesses that promote the art truthfully. We buy our art directly from the artists and if we don’t have what you are looking for or want more choices we will point you in the right direction.
Take some time to read this forum article that will help you on your way to owning Native American originals, http://forum.perrynulltrading.