After 13 years Sallie Wagner Lippincott and her husband Bill left the Wide Ruins Trading Post, which they purchased in 1938. They were art collectors and their trips took them to diverse parts of the world, from post-war Japan to Santa Fe. While Toh-Atin specializes in American Indian art from the Southwest, our family has always had a link and draw to the Hispanic arts of Northwest New Mexico.
And so did Sallie. After moving to Santa Fe, she made many Hispanic friends and supported their work. Coming from her textile background as a trader at Wide Ruins, she was intrigued with the Northern New Mexico weaving traditions and became good friends with David Ortega in Chimayo. David was the owner of the Ortega Weaving, a landmark shop opened in 1900 and now run by his son, Robert.
Sallie’s collection that we will be selling at Indian Market, included a selection of very nice Chimayo weavings from the Ortega Shop. I took a motorcycle trip with my buddy Buzz to visit Ortega’s and talk to the current owner about her weavings. Ortega’s has always been a great place and the work they produce is exceptional, but I did get a surprise when I asked Robert, the current owner and David’s son, about the weavings.
I had assumed that she had simply purchased them from the shop, which has an excellent selection. I should have known better.
“My father wove most of those pieces for her as custom orders,” said Robert. “I remember her coming to visit and spending a lot of time with him. She was a very interesting woman and only wanted the best pieces. She spent a lot of time here.”
It was pretty neat to discover that most of these weavings were not only ordered by this extraordinary woman, but that David Ortega, the patriarch of the family, had woven them! We are delighted to be showing them at our Indian Market Show in the Inn and Spa at Loretto beginning this coming Tuesday, August 14, through Sunday, August 19, from 10 am until 6 pm daily.
will be giving a talk on Sallie Wagner on Thursday, the 16th, at 2 pm. I call it,
“Debutante to Indian Trader!” She was a fascinating woman and I think
you’ll enjoy it. Her collection, that will be for sale at the show includes the
Chimayo weavings, Wide Ruins vegetal dyes, a first phase concho belt, the most
extraordinary Navajo blanket I’ve ever seen, a Nativity set by Helen Cordero,
Native American paintings and more.
On Tuesday, the 14th, I will give a talk about the history of Navajo weaving, “Threads through Time.” On Friday, from noon until 2, we are hosting a book signing for Navajo weavers Lynda Teller Pete and Barbara Teller Ornelas. Their hot of the press new book is titled, “Spider Woman’s Children, Navajo Weaver’s today.” It is a beautiful book and you’ll like it. If you can’t make the Santa Fe Show, but would like one of their signed books, send us an email and we will have them sign one for you!
The "Nothing to do with Indian Market” tip for the day is to visit Chimayo. No trip to Chimayo is complete without a stop to see Robert at the Ortega Weaving Shop. He is a great guy and loves to share his family’s history. Lunch, brunch or dinner at Rancho de Chimayo is a must. The old small church is a stop you’ll want to make. This church has been the center of Catholic faith in the area and site of pilgrimages since it was built in 1815. Called El Santuario de Chimayo, it receives over 300,000 visitor a year. There is a room with dirt that has been blessed and is believed to have healing powers. It is over 150 years old and yet has a vibrancy about it.
Then, next to the church, stop and see Raymond Bal, the owner of the El Potrero shop. It translates into “The Pasture.” This is a nice, small shop, but it contains one of the real treasures of Chimayo, Heirloom Chili. This special chili, sweet and tasty, is found only in this valley. It is a pure strain, carefully kept and grown in isolated fields. The seeds cannot be purchased, but the chili is sold in small plastic bags and if you want to add a truly unique taste to your Mexican flavored meal, you need this. You can also order it by phone (505) 351-4112 from the store, but really, if you are that close, it is worth the trip!
Thanks for following our blog! It is going to be a fun week in Santa Fe!