Thursday, December 27, 2007


Retiring gallery owner Jan Baum recalls a career based on the joy of displaying the works.

Los Angeles Times, December 24, 2007, Calendar Section.,1,6276820.story?ctrack=4&cset=true

A very nice article about Los Angeles based contemporary art gallery owner and tribal art collector Jan Baum. Jan and her husband Richard are well known patrons on the LA art scene and were recently honored for their services as prominent members of the Ethnic Arts Council (EAC), a LA based group of tribal art collectors.


Below are links to art related articles on the LA Times website:

Afghanistan Welcomes Home Old, Old Friends.
December 26, 2007, Main Section.
Museum is overjoyed and overwhelmed by the return of thousands of priceless treasures from exile in Europe.,1,5207522.story?ctrack=2&cset=true

Afghan Art Due in U.S.
December 22, 2007, Calendar Section.
A brief article about an upcoming 17 month tour of Afghan artifacts in the USA. On wire service from Washington Post and not available on the LA Times website.

In the Art World, It's Still a Bull Market.
December 26, 2007, Calendar Section.
A brief article declaring that the general art market is hot, mostly due to the weak dollar, expanding world wealth, and the strength of new buyers from Russia, China, India, and the Middle East.,1,6867488.story?ctrack=3&cset=true

Thursday, December 6, 2007


LA Show Back From the Abyss?

I recently exhibited at the Asian & Tribal Art Show, held at the Santa Monica Civic Center. The show was moved from its time slot in October, back to its original mid-November date, and shortened by one day to a Friday night opening and two full weekend days. Formally, this show was dominated by dealers selling classic Asian objects from China, Japan, and Korea, but over the last few years has seen an increase of dealers offering Tribal Art from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Oceania.

Unfortunately for some time, this show has slowly, but steadily, declined in attendance, sales, and enthusiasm, seeing a regular turnover of disgruntled sellers. Rarely, have the Tribal Art dealers reported big sales at this venue making it difficult for the show organizers to keep the best galleries/sellers on board. In fact this has often led to a few dealers with marginal material (to say the least) being allowed to exhibit, thus pulling down the quality even further.

Of course, the dealers are always trying to analyze the reasons for this: tired venue; lousy PR/advertisement; ill-conceived opening night support; and non-supportive collectors. To some degree I would agree with much of this assessment.

The venue at the Civic Center is tired and shabby in my opinion, and a snazzy newer location actually built for trade show exhibitions, instead of an old converted concert hall would be much better, especially if still located on the West Side of LA. However, several other shows using this venue, such as Photo LA, are very well attended, so it seems unlikely that is a primary reason for the low turnout.

I do think previous PR for the show was not as good as it could have been and it has always been unclear if any media campaigns or advertisements were ever effective in bringing in new blood. This is, and has always been, a problem with Tribal Art shows: getting the word out to a new audience that will actually attend.

Setting up the opening night with a specific cause or institution, to bring in their supporters hoping to expose them to a different art world, has also been an iffy proposition. I can’t recall it ever working effectively in LA or at the NYC shows. It has been very successful at the SF Tribal Show with the support of the De Young Museum, who pushes to get out their “troops”. For the last couple of years, the show organizers hooked up with UCLA’s Fowler Museum, which would appear to be a natural connection. After a few down years, the Fowler Museum (under the direction of Marla Berns) has really bounced back with some very exciting exhibitions.

But, where were their supporters? I have been to several openings at the Fowler and it was packed with hundreds of people attending, but it never seemed like more than a few dozen of these people, at best, came to the openings of our LA show. Why the enthusiastic interest in a show at a museum and the lack of interest in a show of art objects they can view and actually buy? It did not appear that the museum pushed or energized their supporters into attending our opening, even when it benefited them financially to do so.

Ah, now to the collectors! “What collectors”? Many have said. Los Angeles is one of the wealthiest communities in the world and has been touted of late as a major center for contemporary and photographic arts. But, why is there so little support or interest in attending the one major show in the area that offers the opportunity to experience and buy Asian or Tribal Art? Even if a collector is not currently in a position to buy, at least you would expect them to drop in on the show and pay attention to state of the market. Oddly enough, I often see more of the LA area collectors at the SF Tribal Show, than I do at the show in their own backyard!

Certainly the number of visitors to our show is considerably less than the numbers of people in the LA area that collect art, regularly visit museums, or are members of art councils and support groups. Even the majority of the membership of our area’s tribal art collector’s group; the Ethnic Arts Council (EAC) rarely attends or supports their local show or dealers. Why don’t they attend, again at least for curiosity’s sake?

It has been my experience that despite the potential for finding quality, open minded collectors in LA, they really don’t exist in the quantity that I find in the Bay Area, the East Coast, or Europe. It has always been my position that most collectors in LA tend to be followers and not innovators when it comes to art, usually buying what is popular, trendy, or what their decorators place in their homes. Perhaps, collecting authentic Tribal Art is just too “outside the box” for most novice collectors, so their attention for it never comes into focus.

Another sore point for me, is that a considerable percentage of the LA area collectors I've encountered tend to be concerned more with getting "deals" rather than good art! Many of these "collectors" have filled their homes with souvenirs, tourist pieces, and lower end artifacts (again because they were cheap) instead of higher quality art objects. I keep wishing that they would stop buying this junk, clear it out of their space, and save that same money to buy a few good pieces.

Without question, putting on a quality show with the best dealers displaying higher end material that will attract those buyers already collecting Tribal Art and having higher profile museum/gallery exhibitions that educate and stimulate new interest would make a big difference. And then, continually making the connection between the two, so potential new collectors can find the proper sources. Unfortunately, the LA show rarely attracts enough of the major dealers, most don’t bring their best material because they don’t expect big sales (I am also guilty of this), there is virtually no local Tribal Art “gallery” scene, and the local museums (other than the Fowler Museum) lack the interest to produce regular related exhibitions. It has always been difficult to pull together a sustained and cohesive Tribal Art community in Los Angeles.

That said, the good news is this year’s LA Asian & Tribal Art Show appeared to come back from the edge of the abyss! The opening had more energy and excitement than I have seen in years. The crowd was larger than usual and it appeared there were many new faces! Virtually every dealer I talked to said they did as well or better than previous years. I know that I saw an increase in business, including a few sales with new buyers.

Why this year? To start, Tribal Art has received more world-wide attention in the last few years, with record prices paid at many of the international auction houses. Perhaps, the has helped bring a little notice to our local show. The new PR team (AGK Media), hired by the show organizers, starting last year, had garnered a huge amount of press. The show also teamed up with some local magazine sponsors that did get some of their own people out on opening night. The organizers cut one day (Friday) off the schedule, normally another sign of a failing show, but seemed to work to our advantage this time. It concentrated attendance, which at least gave the appearance of bigger crowds and likely had had the side-effect of convincing buyers that there was more interest, thus building more excitement and real interest! Whatever the reasons, it made a noticeable difference.

From the viewpoint of the Tribal Art part of the show, there were several of the top local dealers present: Ron Normandeau (Anthropos Gallery-LA) pre-Columbian and ancient art; Philip Garaway (LA) American Indian art; Joshua Dimondstein (LA) African Art; John Strusinski (Primary Source-LA) Indonesian Art; Jerry Solomon (LA) Japanese and India Art; Michael Hamson (LA) Oceanic and New Guinea; and Thomas Murray (SF/LA) Indonesian and Textile Arts. From outside of LA, other important dealers exhibited: Joel Cooner (Dallas) you name it; Casey Waller (Caravanserai-Dallas) Carpets and Central Asian Textiles; Georgia Chrischilles (Brussels) Gold and Tribal Art; and Shirley Day (London) Ancient Art. In addition, some strong newcomers were present: Michael Auliso (TRIBALMANIA-SF) Tribal Art; Joe Loux (SF) Tribal Art and Jewelry; Zena Kruzick (SF) Tribal Art and Jewelry; and Craig De Lora (NJ) Tribal Art. My apologies if I missed a few others.

Indonesian pieces that stood out: a pair (male/female) of rare and fantastic tattooed Tau-Tau figures from the Rembon area of Torajaland (G. Chrischilles); a great painted Dayak shield (J. Cooner); an old Batak charm (T. Murray); a delicate Batak powder horn (C. De Lora); a fantastic medium sized Dayak figure with hands in the form of hornbills (Primary Source); and of course everything in my booth!!! Ha!

Now that this show seems to have bounced back, hopefully the best dealers will stay on and others will return. The show organizers need to drop a few dealers that do not belong in this show (or any other higher quality venue), which will bring up the overall quality and the dealers themselves should bring better pieces (if they are not doing so already), even if the current LA market is not prepared to buy, it may eventually attract others that will. The current PR firm should continue their good work and expand on the educational programs and special exhibitions. And lastly, the organizers might need to retool the opening night sponsorship. I still like the idea of working with the Fowler Museum, but they need to step up their physical presence and bring in their people.

These shows are important, because they bring the tribal art community together: dealers; collectors; academics; and potential new buyers. It is a rare opportunity to see good art, to exchange information, and of course, to buy. The bottom line is; collectors need to support the dealers if they want these shows to continue. Dealers spend considerable sums of money and their time to set up at these events, if they don't make regular sales, there is no reason to be there. To be blunt; if collectors don't buy, dealers won't come, the show falls apart, and everyone loses!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


From the LA Times, Main Section, November 24, 2007:

Pendants and earrings, dating from as far back as 3000 BC, originated in Taiwan but have been found throughout the southwestern Pacific, archaeologists say.

Direct link to full article on LA Times website:,1,5093418.story?ctrack=1&cset=true


Sent to me from a colleague:

Five ancient statues allegedly stolen from an Indonesian museum by its curator have been found, officials say. The statues were returned to the museum in the Javanese city of Surakarta after being found in the capital Jakarta. Police have already arrested three members of museum staff and accused them of stealing statues from the collection and selling them off.

The five stone statues are all from central Java and date from the 7th to 9th centuries. State investigators say the items are among nine pieces that went missing from the museum. Three bronze statues and a porcelain plate are still missing.

Investigators allege that the curator, helped by his staff, stole the pieces from the collection and replaced them with fakes. The alleged scam was brought to light by a former employee, who told a professor at a local university what had happened. The state archaeology body, which investigated her claims, said there had been no inventory at the museum for six years, and that many other items could be missing.

The museum, which was founded more than 100 years ago, is the oldest in Indonesia.

Full link to BBC on line site:


This was sent to me from a colleague...

When it Comes to Conservation – Bali Makes No Bones!

Bali Official Seize US$6.45 Million in Rare Bones From a Kuta Shop.

Tempo Interaktif reports the Bali's Conservation Department (BKSDA) has seized 2 trucks of antiques and bone of endangered animals from 6 art shops in the Kuta area of Bali. The confiscated goods with a value estimated at Rp, 60 billion (US$6.45 million) is currently being stored for safe keeping at the Bali Conservation Office."Although (the confiscated goods) are only bones, this is still a violation of the law," said the Coordinator for Enforcement and Conservation, Budi Utomo.

The relevant laws for conservation of natural resources provides for 5 years of prison and a maximum fine of Rp. 100 million (US$10,750).Among the bird skeletons confiscated were the skulls of four Buceros bicornis or Great Hornbills valued at Rp. 1.2 billion (US$129,000). Also seized were 25 teeth from Dugongs or Dugong dugon costing Rp. 1.5 billion (US$161,300), together with whale bones and swordfish bones. Some of the bone items had been carved and decorated into handicraft items.

The Coordinator of Forestry Police for the BKSDA in Bali, Sri Yudhanto told Tempo Interaktif that the confiscation came as the result of a tip provided by a German tourist who asked why whale bones were being sold openly in Bali shops. Following a brief investigation the contraband were seized in raids over three days conducted between November 6-9, 2007.

The owner of the antique shop initially resisted the confiscation, claiming he had no knowledge of the rules outlawing the private ownership of such items. Yudhanto said his department would initially concentrate on educating the perpetrator, reserving harsher legal steps if the violations continued. Official believe the bones originated from Papua and East Nusa Tenggara.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


San Francisco Tribal, an association of the top Bay Area tribal art dealers, hosted a "mini" show at the Herbst International Exhibition Hall within the Presidio grounds of San Francisco over the weekend of October 12-14, 2007. This was the fourth annual show put on by the members of SF Tribal, but the first time in this new venue.

The participating members of SF Tribal were: Michael Auliso; David Betz; Robert Brundage; Dave DeRoche; Joshua Dimondstein; Robert Dowling; Erik Farrow; Zena Kruzick; Joe Loux; Andres Moraga; Thomas Murray; Vicki Shiba; Frank Wiggers; and James Willis. The range of material offered spanned the globe: from Africa; Southeast Asia; Indonesia; Australia; Oceania; India; the Himalayas; and pre-Columbian America.

I loved the new venue. The Presidio is one of the most beautiful locations in the city and the Herbst building commands an impressive view of the old military post and the forest covered grounds. The hall was spacious enough to allow each participating member to easily exhibit within their own 15' wide booth. In fact there was plenty of room for even wider booth sizes or additional exhibitors. The group was fortunate to have contracted a company specializing in exhibition set-up that provided regular walls, paper, and lighting giving the whole venue a more professional look. In addition, there was ample parking close to the venue or within a short walk to the entrance.

Friday evening's Gala Preview, benefiting the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, brought in an estimated 120+ people, who paid $50 each to attend. The crowd, mostly well known local collectors and dealers (although there were a few notable out-of-towners), was upbeat and anxious to get a first look. That said it did not appear that any serious business was conducted as most attendees dropped into social mode (typical of most art openings). It was an enjoyable evening, chatting with old friends and admiring the objects on display, but the one criticism I had for the preview, was that the catered food was very lackluster.

The following weekend brought in another couple hundred people and considerably more business. It also helped that the weather could not have been more perfect: clear, blue skies and mild temperatures. I'll admit I spent most of my time in front of Frank Wiggers’ booth, because it was full of great Indonesian tribal art and there were plenty of chairs to sit in, and in a very short time I watched sales of a large Batak Charm (Pagar), a Batak Magic Horn, and a pair of ancient Sulawesi Ceramic Figures. It was my understanding that most of the participants sold well at the show, although there were some that were disappointed with the lack of major sales. I certainly witnessed a steady stream of buyers, leaving with bags and bubble wrapped treasures.

It would seem that 300 or so attendees are not a large crowd, but these "mini" shows are a new phenomenon and need time to build momentum. The idea is that a smaller show will allow collectors to get a better look at fewer pieces and have more time to talk to the dealers. The larger shows do tend to be overwhelming with many buyers losing focus after viewing thousands of objects.

Their previous venues were okay, but lacked a slick, professional look. The new location made a huge difference in presentation, so it should help with a positive impression for future shows, especially if SF Tribal can maintain a regular annual presence. It is my understanding that the hall has been booked for next year's show, so that is good news.

Overall the quality of material offered was good to very good, but I felt that many of the dealers opted against bringing their top level pieces to a smaller show, perhaps holding back for the upcoming SF Tribal Art Show in February. I understand the rational, as I often hold back my best pieces from lesser venues, assuming that they won't attract the big buyers. Bringing pieces that are more reasonably priced does seem practical, as most collectors are not millionaires, but there still should be a few objects that everyone can get excited about, even if they can't afford them.

I think in this case it may have been a mistake, for those who did not do so, to have passed on bringing at least a few major pieces. You want buyers to go WOW! when they come into every booth. It will be the "buzz" of this show, which will determine the attendance of the next one! Presenting at least some masterpieces and making the statement that this is a serious venue will bring in more serious collectors, at least in the long run. We all remember how long it took for the regular SF Tribal Art Show to get its legs, but as more and more serious dealers and material became available, it has evolved into the premier tribal art show in the US and arguably the world. SF Tribal is in a unique position with their annual event to fill the gap between that important show and to confirm that the Bay Area is the center for the Tribal Art market on the West Coast.

All minor criticism aside, I admire the members of SF Tribal for their hard work and dedication in putting on this annual event. I fumbled along with this same idea in the Los Angeles area and it is not easy pulling these shows together and maintaining momentum over the years.

For additional information, please visit the San Francisco Tribal website:


The Pacific Asia Museum, located in Pasadena, California (near Los Angeles) is hosting two exhibitions, one ending in mid November.

Daily Rituals: Himalayan Art in Practice.
Ends November 11, 2007.

Rank and Style: Power Dressing in Imperial China.
October 12, 2007 to January 27, 2008.

For details on both events, please go to their website:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I subscribe to the Los Angeles Times and on occasion I find articles that are relevant to the world of Tribal Art. In the past I added direct links to the articles which can be found on the LA Times website. However, after a few weeks these articles revert to their archives, that can only be accessed by registering on their website. I will still add these posts to my blog from time to time, so those readers that wish to do so can access the LA Times website and check out these articles. After a month or so, I will remove the old posts from my blog to eliminate clutter. To access these articles (when I cannot provide the direct link), go to the and put the title, author, and date in the archive search.

Recent articles that may be of interest:

ITALY, GETTY END RIFT: The museum's pledge to return 40 objects is confirmed as civil charges are dropped against former curator Marion True.
By Jason Felch
September 26, 2007, Calendar section.

RICE CULTIVATED IN CHINA 7,700 YEARS AGO: People converted coastal marshes to paddies and built dikes to keep out the sea, researches find.
By Thomas H. Maugh II
September 27, 2007, The World section.

BAGHDAD MUSEUM'S SAD FATE "BLEEDS MY HEART": Looting of the Baghdad Museum and it's aftermath.
By Mike Boehm
October 2, 2007, Calendar section.

EARLY HUMANS FOUND TO USE MAKEUP, TOOLS: Researchers also find the earliest evidence of seafood consumption.
By Thomas H. Maugh II
October 20, 2007, Science File section.

MAORI HEAD REMAINS IN FRANCE: French court rules that a preserved tattooed Maori head will remain must remain in France and not be returned to New Zealand.
October 25, 2007, Calendar section, Quick Takes

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Historic and contemporary photographs of indigenous people from North and South America, the Pacific and the Middle East. The exhibition, divided into two sections, explores the relationship between images of native peoples and colonial preceptions.

September 7, 2007 through January 27, 2008.

Autry National Center
4700 Western Heritage Way,
Los Angeles, California
1 (323) 667-2000

Friday, August 31, 2007


I exhibited this August at one of the two ethnographic art shows now running side by side in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At 24 years old, the Whitehawk “Ethnographic Art Show” is the longest running non-American Indian tribal art show in the USA and the original model for other similar shows now running in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. The show is temporarily housed at the El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe until the Sweeney Center is rebuilt, hopefully no later than 2009. Across town at the College of Santa Fe was the sixth annual “Historic and World Tribal Arts” show put on by promoter Barry Cohen.

Some background on both shows might help explain how each are fairing today. The Whitehawk show was until last year held in the old Sweeney Center, just off the main square, which is prime real estate during the busy summer months. Art buying tourists, Texas millionaires, hard-core collectors, and the tribally curious flood into Santa Fe by mid-August to enjoy the pleasant weather, the opera, the ballet, and the much anticipated Indian Week (one of the largest showings of Native American art in the United States). In the early 1980’s, Don Bennett, who already ran an antique American Indian Show at the Sweeney, conceived of the idea of opening a second show of other ethnographic material, including tribal art from African, Oceania, and Asia, that could compete in this established market. Several years ago Don sold both shows to the Whitehawk organization.

For many years, the Ethnographic Show at the Sweeney Center thrived and became the “must see” show for tribal art collectors from all parts of the country. By the late 1980’s and early 1990’s other tribal art shows - most notably ones promoted by the Caskey Lees organization - took much of the steam out of the Santa Fe show. This brought about a slow decline in attendance, and therefore sales, of higher end collectors outside the Southwest. In response, many of the higher end dealers, especially those selling African Art (who had already experienced slow sales in their areas) dropped out of the show. Often many of the replacement venders were not of the same caliber as the originals and some were offering material that seemed inappropriate for an “ethnographic show”. This lack of focus and standards has been a problem for the show to this day.

Six years ago, promoter Barry Cohen, set up a smaller alternate tribal show, mostly of high end American Indian dealers, in a nearby hotel lobby. At that time, this new show was relatively benign and seemingly not in direct competition to the main event at the Sweeney Center. After a few years, Mr. Cohen was able to find a larger venue at the nearby College of Santa Fe, which allowed for considerable expansion and additional selling spaces. He actively sought out higher end vendors from the Whitehawk show, and elsewhere, in part to create a higher caliber and more varied ethnographic and Indian show.

About that same time, it became known to the exhibitors at the Whitehawk show that the Sweeney Center was set for demolition and would be unavailable as a venue for three or four years. When this would happen was not clear and each year appeared to be the last. Changes in management (twice) from the old Don Bennett organization to the new Whitehawk promoters created some additional anxiety amongst the dealers (although it should be noted that the current promoters are very capable and wonderful people to work with, especially under the circumstances). Another long running problem was the size and quality of booth spaces available at the old Sweeney Center. Most vendors were looking for larger booths in prime locations on the ground floor, which was not possible under the original, and frankly antiquated, show set-up plan. These issues, as well as the aforementioned problems of ethnographic focus and overall quality of vendors, created conditions that several of the remaining higher end tribal art sellers “defected” to the Cohen show.

It looked as if the Whitehawk Ethnographic Show (the American Indian Show did not appear to be affected by these same circumstances) may not survive these defections, drop in standards, lack of focus, and as importantly, the temporary change in venue. Meanwhile the Historic and World Tribal Arts show appeared to be on a roll, firmly taking the mantle of the higher end and well displayed tribal art show. With a few exceptions, the majority of these vendors were top notch, offering higher quality objects.

But, surprisingly things did not go as predicted. In 2006, the new Whitehawk venue, now held within a shabby warehouse-like structure and lacking sufficient parking, worked out just fine - with huge crowds in attendance on Friday’s opening night and each of the two weekend days. Sales were brisk, although often in the lower to mid ranges and most vendors I talked to did well in 2006, as well as this year. Despite the fact that some vendors (either because of quality or type of material) are still not, in my opinion, appropriate for an “ethnographic” show, it still had an interesting and fun look, with a wide range of items to pick through. It seemed to me that most of the visitors were in a buying mood (typical of tourists visiting art-rich-overload Santa Fe) with several new tribal art buyers making purchases.

Across town at the Cohen show, attendance was strong only on their Thursday night opening and Friday, with the weekend slow enough for vendors to find time to run over to the Whitehawk show (along with most of the rest of Santa Fe). With a few exceptions, most of the really big sales and certainly most of the consistent sales were with the American Indian dealers. Most of the other tribal art dealers were struggling to make decent sales and to find important new clients. It is my understanding that this was the same situation in 2007. In fact, sales expectations for many of the non-American Indian dealers was so poor, that several dropped out in 2007, creating an obvious empty space along the back wall (now used as a dining area).

Perhaps, having two competing venues has diluted the potential marketplace for higher end non-American Indian tribal art? Possibly, but in my opinion that market was already weak some years ago, mostly due to the eventual creation of stronger competing shows in the other larger markets of NYC, SF, and LA (as well as Europe). Big buyers did not have to run off to Santa Fe each year, as they did in the 1980s and early 90’s, because better organized and higher quality shows existed elsewhere. Other than the American Indian collectors, most of the people now coming to Santa Fe to look at tribal art are often decorators, art tourists, or the more modest level collectors.

Next year, certainly no later than the year after, the Whitehawk Show will return to the new, improved Sweeney Center. This would be a great opportunity for the current promoters to re-examine their vendors list and weed out the lower end sellers and those with material best suited for other venues. Creating larger booth spaces and more open, managable aisles would be ideal. Then, they should make a concentrated effort to fill those booths with the higher end ethnographic dealers that either defected to the Cohen show or dropped out in the past. With a little tweaking, it would be possible to make good use of the energy and enthusiasm their show already brings as well as bringing up the quality and standards that could lure back serious collectors.

Meanwhile, the Cohen show should focus on what works best for them and that is a high end American Indian venue. If they focused on a tighter, high quality only, Indian show they could create and maintain a strong position leading up to Indian Week.

Perhaps merging the two shows may be in order, but I don’t know if that is feasible. What is likely is that unless there are some serious changes to both shows, these problems will continue. The Whitehawk show could degenerate into a glorified flea market and loose the chance to bring in any high quality tribal art. The Cohen show will likely lose more of their higher end non-Indian dealers and assuming they want to keep up the appearance of a “World Art” show may be forced to fill those spaces with sellers of lesser material, thus bringing down their overall quality.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dealers and Profits

It has been my experience there is a long standing prejudice against tribal art dealers because it is assumed that they are only motivated by commercial concerns (oddly enough, I rarely see this attitude against dealers in the contemporary art market). Of course this is a business and it is normal to make a profit, like anyone else selling a product or service. But, if profit was the only factor, not one person I know would be an art dealer as there are better ways to make money than selling art. With very few exceptions, most tribal art dealers make a good living at best, but rarely get rich. In fact, the only wealthy tribal art dealers I know started out that way, usually with family money or funds from other businesses.

Art dealers have to invest considerable sums into inventory and then spend additional funds on shipping and importation fees (when necessary), restorations/repairs, presentation (including stands and pedestals), photography, advertisements, storage, sales locations (such as galleries or exhibitions spaces), travel, websites, etc, as well as all of the normal personal expenses. All of these are out of pocket costs before any sales are made and any return on the investment is realized. In addition, there are loses from bad purchases, financial and physical risks when traveling in third world source countries, and inventories that sit for months, sometimes years before they are sold.

Then how does one value all of the time that dealers put into their business? So much of it is a long learning curve, including reading every relevant publication, visiting every relevant exhibition and collection, studying and handling thousands of objects (especially when buying), and making sense of all manner of misinformation (deliberate or not) that is thrown about when buying tribal art. Most art dealers are generous with their time, experience, expertise, and inventories (such as loans to museums) and do a lot more work than they get paid or recognized for.

Making a reasonable profit on this investment of time and money would be considered completely acceptable in any other business, but I am constantly surprised when academics, curators, and even collectors practically sneer at dealers making a profit (which is often falsely assumed to be astronomical). This is especially hypocritical considering that nearly everyone involved in the tribal art world is making money as well.

Frankly, the largest profit made in tribal art (and probably in most other art fields) is ultimately by the collectors who eventually sell or donate their pieces. And of course auction houses charge fees for sales and museums make money on art by selling tickets to exhibitions, selling publications, and receiving donations of cash and artifacts from collectors (and dealers). Academics, researchers, and anthropologists are funded for their work, again ultimately tied to the generosity and interest of collectors and the public. And don’t forget that locals in source countries also make money off of the items (admittedly not much) that often help pay for medical care, school, food, debts, etc, that would not have been possible without a financial demand for these pieces. Yet, the dealers are the only ones who are scorned or scolded for making a profit off the art market.

With the exception of personal heirloom objects, most tribal artifacts would ultimately rot “in situ”, un-appreciated by anyone outside the immediate area. Without the interest (financial and otherwise) of art collectors and dealers, there would be virtually no one (other than a handful of academics and students) who would care about these objects, preserve them, attend exhibitions, or read any publications.

Of course there are art sellers that just move out “merchandise” with little interest other than profit, but I find this the rare exception. Most dealers I know are - at heart - collectors and have the same passion for these objects that others have. When dealers rave about an object they are doing so because they actually believe what they say and not just because they are trying to sell it. Yet it is assumed that any expression of enthusiasm is motivated by profit alone. Dealers also enjoy the hunt for rare objects, having them in their homes, and appreciating their power and beauty. By providing most of the collectable and important artifacts, as well as a considerable amount of the information, dealers are an integral part of the tribal art community and should be respected for their contributions.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Quoted from a recent article by Thomas H. Maugh II in the Los Angeles Times:

A new study of DNA from pigs is rewriting the history of human migration throughout the Pacific, indicating the most island residents in the region had their origin in Vietnam.

Studies of pots and other cultural artifacts had previously suggested that the Polynesian and Oceanic cultures originated in Taiwan and spread rapidly through the Pacific, an idea often called the Express Train or Speedboat Out of Taiwan.

To shed light on this period, a large international team headed by archaeologist Keith Dobney of Durham University in England studied mitochondrial DNA form 781 modern and ancient pigs. The older specimens were obtained from museums and other similar sources.

"Pigs are good swimmers, but not good enough to reach Hawaii", said archaeologist Greger Larson of Uppsala University in Sweden, lead author of the study in Tuesday's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Given the distances between islands, pigs must have been transported, and are thus excellent proxies of human movement."

They found that a single genetic heritage is shared by the modern Vietnamese wild boar; modern feral pigs on the island of Sumatra, Java, and New Guinea; and ancient and modern domestic pigs on several Pacific islands. The genetic signature is not found in Taiwan.

The team said this indicated the islanders' ancestors left Vietnam about 3,600 years ago and traveled through numerous islands before reaching New Guinea and, later, Hawaii and French Polynesia.

Friday, June 22, 2007



Fowler Museum at UCLA (north campus), Los Angeles, CA.

June 24, 2007 to December 1, 2007

From the Fowler Museum collection of tribal doors, panels, and ritual barriers. Examples from the Toraja of Sulawesi Island, the Batak of Sumatra, the Paiwan of Formosa, as well as New Guinea, India and Africa are on display.

Monday, June 18, 2007


WHY COLLECT tribal art (or art of any kind)? We collect art because we enjoy having beautiful and interesting objects in our homes. The discovery and acquisition of art is exciting. Great art invites discussion, introspection, and intellectual stimulation. For many, collecting art is a form of social status and a way to display wealth. Art is patronage when collectors invest in and support artists’ works, loan works to public exhibitions, donate works to museums, and create endowments. Although this is not the most important factor, great art is a good financial investment. And, of course, collecting art is fun.

More specifically tribal art is unique and not mass produced. Objects are handcrafted, usually with natural materials. They are made with purpose, often for devotional or ritual use. They are almost always functional, but often with eye towards beauty and form. The forms come from long cultural traditions, yet artist variation is allowed and encouraged. The objects connect humans to their gods/deities, ancestors, and nature. Objects can be beautifully rendered, expressive, animated, soulful, mysterious, and powerful. Tribal art is tactile and begs for physical interaction. And lastly, tribal art is relatively inexpensive when compared to traditional forms of art.


In late January, 2007 the Ethnic Arts Council (EAC) of Los Angeles, in partnership with the LA office of Sotheby’s, held the first of a series of panel discussions on the collecting, preserving, and disposing of tribal art. Jonathan Fogel (editor of Tribal Arts Magazine) moderated the first part of the series with panelists Stacy Goodman (Sotheby’s pre-Columbian expert), Joshua Dimondstein (dealer in African Art), Philip Garaway (dealer in Native American Art), and myself. Following are notes I had for this discussion (since expanded and revised). The bulk of this information is more specific to collecting Southeast Asian tribal art (my specialty), but could easily apply to collecting tribal art from any area. I have divided this part of the series into several more manageable sections for placement on the Tribal Beat blog.

Part 1:

I should begin by clarifying what most dealers and collectors consider is “authentic tribal art”. The most accepted definition is any artifact/object made by indigenous peoples for their own use. There are some subtle exceptions, but this is the best rule of thumb. When collecting tribal art, the first concern should be that each object under consideration is authentic and not a fake (something made to look authentic and meant to deceive) or a reproduction (something made in the style of a traditional piece).

Determining if a specific piece is a fake, a reproduction, or authentic is tricky. I have been doing this for over 30 years, having traveled extensively to many tribal areas, bought and handled thousands of pieces (I have seen many times that number), devoured the literature (often going back over reference materials continuously), and checked out as many museum shows, collections, and exhibitions as possible. Despite every effort, it is still possible to miss something or be fooled by a great fake.

The key areas to be aware of when looking for authentic pieces are:

You have to understand PATINAS (surface wear) and how it relates to the piece. For example, an ironwood statue from Borneo that has been left outside for decades will take on a certain patina, usually gray-white with lichen growth, often with wear on the tops of flat areas caused by rain and puddled water. The same ironwood, when carved into a smaller object that is kept indoors, absorbing natural oil from constant handling, will take on a black polished look and be smooth to the touch. Again, that same ironwood piece ritually bathed in animal blood and left in the smoky rafters of the house will take on a crusty dark patina, and so on. Understanding the use and what patina should exist with that piece is critical.

You have to understand the MATERIALS that are typically used in a specific culture. If you know they have certain types of wood or feathers or plant material in one area and not in another, it can give you clues as to authenticity. Again, this can be tricky as possible trade between groups would allow non-native materials to appear in another culture.

You have to understand the CULTURAL CONTEXT of pieces and how they were used and what they would use, to know if a type of piece would logically exist. If a specific tribe does not use masks for example, why is there a mask for sale from the group? Again, this one gets tricky because it is nearly impossible to know every single item that a culture might make, especially if it is some ancient item that has not been used in recent memory. However, with experience you get a feel for the logic of pieces.

You have to study their ICONOGRAPHY, or their use of traditional motifs, to determine how they relate to specific objects. Some pieces might have certain motifs while others may not. For example, there may be images used only by aristocrats, others just for males, females, warriors, or shamans. And, of course, each village, tribe, and region will have their own designs and imagery.

*Go to Part 2, 3, 4...


The best ways to learn about any art field is to do your homework and view as many objects as possible. Visiting museums, galleries, special exhibitions, art shows, private collections, attending auctions, going to lectures, and reading related publications are all part of the process. When it comes to tribal art it is equally important to handle as many objects as allowed. Holding these pieces in your hands and examining the details up close helps develop and fine tune your “eye” for authenticity.

In the end, you have to take the plunge and buy pieces so you can live with them in your home. There is no better education that having these objects on hand and viewing them regularly, especially under changing light and at various angles. And always ask questions if you’re not sure. Dealers, as well as collectors, appreciate your interest and welcome opportunities to discuss the finer points of specific items.

After you have determined that a piece is authentic then you should consider these other factors (not necessarily in this order, but the quality of the object is always the most important consideration): quality (beauty, form, patina, etc); condition (including restoration, repairs, damage, wear, etc); rarity; traditional use; unusual features; provenance (if any); and lastly the age of the piece. I make a point of putting the AGE of an object last, as too many collectors are obsessed by how old a piece might be, often ignoring the other more important factors.

It's a long story to explain, but the short version is that many collectors (and dealers) come into the tribal art market assuming that age is the key factor when determining if something is authentic or possibly of better quality, when it is not often the case. The IDEA behind this is if something is not obviously old it must be fake! It can matter for some areas of collecting and certainly older pieces (if all of the other factors are equal) may be more valuable than similar newer examples because they are likely to be rarer, but there are many cases, especially with tribal groups in Asia (like the Naga and the Dayak) where these societies still follow a traditional path and made interesting authentic objects for their own use well to the end of the 20th century.

Frankly, the true AGE of an object is very difficult to determine accurately without knowing the exact history of the piece. For example, weathier individuals own items that are rarely used, kept stored as heirlooms, and therefore show virtually no wear. Other pieces may be used every day under harsh conditions and would appear much older than they actually are.

In most cases, age is estimated using a set of very vague criteria. Comparing the piece to other pieces known to be of a certain age, using reference material that specifically dates pieces, comparing stylistic features only found on pieces from a specific period, and examining condition issues or patinas that would likely be found only on pieces of a certain age are the usual methods. All of these are important criteria and together are useful in estimating age, but nature, time, and use wears on artifacts in an infinite variety of ways, so no one set of rules applies. Keep in mind this is not an exact science and experts disagree all of the time.


It has been my experience that CONDITION can be a major factor in the ultimate value and appreciation of tribal artifacts. Textiles with heavy stains, large holes, or significant fading are nearly worthless on the market and should be avoided. Sculptures with missing sections, especially faces or limbs may be okay, but are more difficult to sell (or resell), therefore lowering their potential value. Obvious exceptions are ancient pieces that would be expected to be in less than perfect condition and may have taken on interesting patinas and surface wear.

Repaired pieces in themselves may not be a problem depending on the circumstances. Objects in great condition (they are rarely in perfect condition when old and used) are usually more valuable in the market than damaged, repaired, or overly restored pieces. A "repair" is usually defined as putting something back together (perhaps with glue, nails, or fiber) that is still visible. "Restoration" is usually defined as attaching, replacing, or re-constructing a piece so that is not visible and appears to be original. It is usually acceptable to do restoration as long as you have the original piece or can make a piece that would be obvious and logical to fill that missing area.

Putting together a piece with old (but not original nails) can be acceptable if the original object was put together with nails in the first place, which is not unusual with tribal objects made in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Depending on the potential value of the piece and how the repairs were made, it can be worthwhile to re-repair a piece. For example, a good piece that was put together with wooden pegs, but later repaired with rusty old nails, could be disassembled, the nails removed, and replaced with old wood pegs (or ones made to look old). This should not affect the value in a negative way.

It can also depend on how much has been repaired and the quality of the repair. A sloppy glue job can be ugly, but it may also be re-repaired properly by removing the old glue and re-doing it correctly. Small repairs here and there usually don't bother buyers. Any repair or restoration is acceptable if someone has just re-attached an existing broken piece. Native repairs using native materials are usually okay and in some cases desirable as they show the care and attention to the piece from the owner, that the object was so important to them they kept maintaining it.

Making "fantasy" pieces that did not exist or adding pieces that were not originally part of the piece (usually to enhance and add value) is not acceptable. The biggest sins for repaired or restored pieces are if they are done poorly (and can't be fixed) or done by adding enhanced parts to increase value. Regardless, any significant restoration should be noted by the seller.

PROVENANCE is usually defined as the known history of an object and can include a list of previous owners, exhibition history, and details of its origin. Good provenance can tell you a great deal about a piece and should enhance its value as many collectors prefer to have this information. It can be especially useful if there is some dispute about cultural patrimony or previous ownership.

However, provenance can also be used to falsely enhance the value of an object. It is not unusual for many sellers to use provenance to support their position that a piece is authentic, because it either came from an old collection or was owned by a collector know to have old pieces. It may also be used to boost the perception of the quality of an object, because the previous owner was known to have a great eye, therefore any object from that collection must meet those same high standards. That may be true, but it also may not, as I have seen plenty of pieces from important collections that were not very good and in some cases were fakes! There are also incidences of sellers using fake provenances, so additional caution should be exercised.

Lastly, I do run across collectors that will only buy pieces with provenance and will ignore better pieces because they come from lesser or unknown sources. This may be due in part to a lack of confidence in their “eye” and insecurity about making mistakes, assuming good provenance will protect them. This is an unfortunate position for these buyers, as they will potentially miss many good opportunities to acquire great pieces. The focus should be on buying great art, not great stories.


The most difficult factor to consider is QUALITY. Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder. What one collector loves another might hate. This is actually good for the market because if we all loved the exact same things, only those pieces would have value and everything else would be unsellable. This issue is too complex to cover here easily, but there are a few points that can be made:

Artistic pieces are not limited to certain types of objects, such as sculptures or masks, but can be considered with any artifact. I have seen crudely carved or downright ugly wood statues that I would rather throw in the fireplace than consider as art objects. But, I have seen many aesthetically and beautiful rendered utilitarian objects such as spoons, doors, panels, bowls, beadwork, etc that I (and most others) would absolutely consider brilliant masterpieces!

Sometimes value and desirability in tribal artifacts have nothing to do with refinement of technique or perceived beauty (especially in the normal western view of beauty). Some of the greatest pieces of tribal art can be simple and informally constructed, yet emanate power and menace (as they were often meant to). Other features we might dismiss as unattractive in our culture are considered beautiful in theirs. For example, the Dayak tribes of Borneo appreciate big ears and many of their sculptures show them sticking straight out! Many tribal cultures (again the Dayaks are a good example) believe the head holds the soul and essence of the individual, so most sculptures will emphasize oversized heads and faces.

An important note is that all cultures have had influences from other cultures and that all artistic traditions have evolved over time often absorbing ideas and materials from other groups. It is rare to find a society that is untouched by others even in ancient times. Some collectors get a bit obsessed and put off if they think an artifact has too much outside influence, but I don't see it that way. It is just another part of that culture's history. For example the Dayak tribes of Borneo Island, have been influenced by Arabs, Malays, Indians, Chinese, and Europeans for many hundreds of years, so how does one logically decide the precise cut-off point for that culture to be "pure"?

Another issue that comes up regularly when selling tribal art (and art of any kind) is the ultimate VALUE or INVESTMENT POTENTIAL. Unfortunately, most collectors are overly concerned about getting a good deal instead of a good piece. It is frustrating as a seller to have to spend a large portion of the “sales pitch” trying to convince the buyer that they are getting a great deal! I would rather spend the time talking about the aesthetic qualities of the piece and why it would be right for their collection. I understand that buyers want to feel they are not getting taken and are spending their money wisely, but to obsess about getting something over the seller or to feel they are being cheated is annoying and insulting.

A good dealer knows the value of his inventory and normally offers objects within a realistic price range. It is rare for a professional dealer to try and over charge on a sale, as it would make no sense to cheat a buyer. Most dealers are trying to establish long term relationships with their clients and make every effort to offer good pieces for fair prices. Good art regularly and progressively goes up in value and most collectors benefit in the long run especially if they bought the best pieces they could afford. In fact it has been my experience most collectors ultimately make more money from their objects than the dealers that sold them, by either eventually re-selling the pieces or getting tax credits by donation. It is very important to remember that enjoying the art is the major part of the investment!

That said, there are interesting investment opportunities when collecting art. Look for areas that are not well known on the market at this time. Look for objects that might be overlooked by the mainstream collectors. If collecting in unknown areas, it is possible to buy great pieces for low prices as the highest values have yet to be set. Once a new area has been bought out then prices normally rise, so buying in early can be beneficial. In addition, once this area has been exhibited or published then prices may raise again as other collectors become aware.



Most dealers, especially the experts in specific fields, have spent years, often at considerable expense, to gain the knowledge, experience, and “eye” needed to properly determine authenticity, quality, and value. This is not easy and involves an ongoing process of trial and error. Most dealers see 100s, if not 1000s, of pieces before carefully selecting just a few objects to show clients. If they make a mistake, they usually have to take the financial loss and rarely are able to recover expenses for bad choices. Dealers can relay important information to the client and generally allow buyers time to make informed choices. Dealers can set up payment plans, take trades, and returns (when appropriate). Typically, dealers have access to support systems such as restorers, conservators, and stand makers. If objects are coming from overseas, most dealers are experienced import/export and shipping specialists. Legitimate dealers offer guarantees, which allow for recourse if mistakes were made in properly presenting and describing an object. Working with experienced, knowledgeable, and trustworthy dealers will give buyers consistent opportunities to see good pieces, gather information, make purchases, and protect themselves from potential fraud.

The exact reverse of this is nearly always true if a buyer does business with a dealer that is not experienced, knowledgeable, or trustworthy. Unfortunately, I meet these kinds of sellers on a regular basis and although the vast majority are honest people who mean well, their lack of experience and knowledge has led many un-informed buyers down the wrong path. These sellers often offer pieces that are not authentic or of questionable quality and if the potential buyer is not aware of this, they may end up spending considerable sums on bad pieces before they are made aware of their mistake. There are other sellers that are dishonest and deliberately offer fakes or reproductions to a naïve market. Fortunately, this is a very small group, but buyers always need to be aware of this possibility when doing business for the first time with a seller that you either don’t know or didn’t come with a recommendation.

Auction Houses:

Reputable auction houses, such as Sotheby’s and Christies, can be excellent sources for high end material. Usually, these auction houses pick up complete and important collections, giving buyers (dealers and collectors alike) an opportunity to purchase on equal terms. Most items offered are well-documented, often with excellent provenance and legal title.

On the minus side, sales at auction are public events preventing buyers from purchasing pieces privately. There is little time to fully inspect pieces and very little recourse if you discover you are not as happy with the purchase as you originally expected. Most auction houses have return policies, but they are rarely as liberal as ones offered by dealers. Buying decisions are rushed and it is not uncommon for bidders to overspend in the heat of the moment. There is virtually no chance for negotiations that may allow for payments, discounts, and trades. There are additional sales fees and expenses for shipping and storage that usually exceed what you would pay in other circumstances.

Internet Sales & Auctions:

The internet has opened new opportunities for buying and selling art. The market is worldwide giving access to a huge supply of material and large pool of potential buyers. All of this can be done from the comfort of your home or office. Doing business with legitimate on line galleries (normally extensions of traditional galleries and private dealers) usually offers the buyer the same service and protection given with direct sales. Legitimate auction houses that offer on line bidding give buyers additional means of participating in auctions when it is not possible or desirable to attend in person. Another variation of this service is eBay, at this time the only major direct online auction business that offers ethnographic art (as well as nearly everything else imaginable).

There are some drawbacks, most that can be overcome, but they should be noted. There is often no face-to-face contact making it more difficult to build solid personal relationships between sellers and buyers. It is helpful for sellers to be able to view buyers’ collections (preferably in person) to determine quality and taste levels, making notes for future offers. Buyers can show sellers images of their collection via email, but it is not the same as handling the pieces in person.

Buyers should be able to examine each object under consideration in a quiet, reflective manner and not be under pressure to make decisions, especially without seeing the piece firsthand. Buying pieces just from photographs is difficult enough and unless there is a clear and easy return policy, it should be avoided completely.

There are many reputable and knowledgeable sellers using the internet (as extensions of legitimate businesses), but unfortunately there are others that are not, either by design or lack of experience. It is my opinion that most sellers in this other category are not deliberately miss-leading their buyers, but just don’t have the expertise or experience to know the difference (at least most of the time) between an authentic piece and a fake. More rarely, there are sellers that do know and offer fake pieces to unsuspecting or naïve buyers.

EBay has the most problems with this issue. There are legitimate sellers on eBay, but unfortunately the vast majority fit into the latter category. On any given day, most ethnographic pieces offered on eBay are reproductions, fakes, or at best lower quality authentic artifacts. Great pieces rarely show up on eBay, as anything of true value and aesthetic quality can be solid in the traditional marketplace and for more money. It is my opinion that eBay is an online flea market with some good pieces popping up on occasion, but generally should be avoided by buyers trying to build serious collections.

Source Countries:

It is still possible to buy tribal art in the countries of origin. This is especially true in Asia. Traveling to exotic locales and discovering little treasures is exciting. It is not unusual to find antique shops in the larger cities and tourist locations, making it more accessible to the casual visitor. Generally speaking (but not always!), prices are cheaper as you get closer to the source. Adventure travel agencies bring visitors to even more remote locales, allowing for the possibility of buying directly from owners at the village level. Assuming the average buyer is content with picking up a few souvenirs, there is no real problem purchasing items on a trip overseas.

The problems surface when casual buyers or inexperience collectors try to buy quality authentic objects. To start, the vast majority of objects offered in these shops (including those that claim to sell antiques) are reproductions or outright fakes. The majority of the remaining pieces, that might be authentic, are often of low quality or in poor condition. Most sellers in source countries are not experts in tribal art and are basically merchants, with the attitude that any sale is a good sale. It is not in their interest to educate the casual buyer, but to encourage you to buy something, as they really do not expect to see you again. You have to take ever story about the piece or your relationship with the seller with a grain of salt. Typical lines: “this piece is 80-90 years old” (I don’t know why, but for some reason they use that age for everything!); “it was owned by my grandfather” (really, it looks like it was made yesterday); “you are my best costumer and I am only showing you the best pieces” (hey, thanks for waiting all year for me to show up!) and the classic “special price for you” (fantastic, where's my credit card?).

Buying directly in the field is not a sure thing either. It has been a common practice, for years, for the more unscrupulous sellers to “seed” fakes at the village level. For example newly made carved wood doors/panels, smoked to look old, have been re-placed in old houses and reproductions of sacred artifacts are offered for sale by the village chief as having been in the family for generations (“it was owned by my grandfather”). Just because you are sitting in a village in a remote part of the world, does not guarantee that items offered for sale are original or authentic.

Other issues to be concerned about is finding reliable shippers, dealing with laws about removal of restricted cultural objects, and customs regulations at home. Besides your time and expenses, there are potential medical, political, and legal problems when traveling in third world countries. Keep in mind; it is extremely unlikely there is any recourse if your purchase turns out to less than you expected when you return home.

Because quality objects are getting harder and harder to find in the field and local sellers, with access to the internet and international auction and sales reports, are more aware of the ultimate value of these objects, they will often offer pieces at prices closer to retail in the West. Sifting through all of the junk, B.S., and higher prices to a buy good pieces can be daunting, even for the experienced buyer.

*Regardless of where you buy tribal art, it’s important for the buyer to do his/her homework. Read, research, and get to know the areas you are interested in. And lastly to buy from the most reputable and knowledgeable sources you can find.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Tribal Beat Policy

Welcome to The Tribal Beat, a blog created by Mark Johnson, sole proprietor of Mark A. Johnson Tribal Art. I have been in the business of buying and selling authentic, antique tribal art since the mid 1970’s. I specialize in artifacts from the tribal cultures of Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific Islands, but have an interest in tribal art from all parts of the globe. I was one of the first dealers to use the internet as a tool for offering tribal art for sale, setting up my website ( by 1997. I am currently based in Los Angeles, California. Additional information is available on the website.

I created this blog with the hopes of providing a venue for the exchange of information on topics related to the worldwide tribal art market. These topics include the selling and buying of tribal art; information about tribal cultures; potential legal issues; museum, exhibition, or gallery news and reviews; and any other relevant discussions. As time permits I will post any pertinent information I come across and when appropriate my own commentary.

I invite others to comment, update, or correct any information provided. I encourage intelligent and informative commentary, however personal attacks, foul language, and long winded rants will be edited or removed.

Mark Johnson
May 2007