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Whitehawk's Silver Anniversary A Premier Trio of Antique Shows

by Sunamita Lim

Why does Ali MacGraw say, "Whitehawk thrills me for the friendship and education I get"? Observations from two leading dealers provide answers as the notable Santa Fe show, the Invitational Antique Indian Art Show, turned 25 on August 18-20, 2003; its 20th Annual Antique Ethnographic Art Show ran August 15-17; and 12th Annual Antique Old West & Country Show on August 12-13. Collectively, all three specialty antique shows are known as "Whitehawk."
Whitehawk founder Don Bennett's first show was literally a "trunk showing" in 1979. Bennett invited about 100 dealers to sell American Indian antiques at Santa Fe's Hilton Hotel. Dealers and buyers went from room to room, wheeling and dealing on items propped up in trunks. Transactions were also flying in the Hilton's parking lot from out of car trunks, as Whitehawk co-owner Sherry Maxwell recalls. Maxwell and her partner Nikki Rivera had known Bennett through the years and purchased Whitehawk from him in November 1996.
Maxwell, then a schoolteacher from Colorado Springs, CO, has been attending Whitehawk since day one with her husband, Mike, another noted Indian art expert; and both have not missed a show since.
Like the Maxwells, Rivera has been a collector for years. Her personal passion is for children's material. Before Rivera even knew one could collect historic Indian material she was heavily involved in Indian affairs in Minnesota in the mid-70s and produced a fund raising film for alternative Indian education.
What makes Whitehawk a special trio of antique shows? Whitehawk glitzes! because celebrities purchase with "star cache." Deborah Begner, owner of Turkey Mountain Traders in Scottsdale, AZ, with her husband Tom and son Steve, remembers her "first Ralph Lauren sighting and selling." Deborah says it was 8:58 p.m., two minutes to closing when the call came from the organizers to stay open because Lauren and his wife Ricki had just arrived in town. Other stars, including Ali MacGraw and Barbara Streisand also frequent the events.
Notwithstanding "star power" ratings, Whitehawk has generated its own dynamic as "the premier show for the American Indian art industry," notes Bob Ashton, who co-founded the respected "American Indian Art Magazine" with Hubert Guy in 1975. Ashton has been selling at Whitehawk since the begining.
Ashton recalls that early on Whitehawk had to surmount objections from local stores who did not want to see outsiders taking away sales. "But Whitehawk has proved itself, the local economy benefits immensely from just nine days of trading and bringing a ton of people to town," he comments. In 1998, Whitehawk surveyed its dealers for the City and found the impact to the local economy to be from $12 to $15 million.
Maxwell and Rivera are respected for maintaining Whitehawk's strict standard that all items must be pre-1950 material. Dealers who do not comply are given warning notices and not all dealers are invited back the following year.
All shows are at Sweeney Convention Center, 201 W. Marcy Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Admission $10 for Indian & Ethnographic Arts; $5 for Old West & Country. For more information please contact Whitehawk Associates, Inc. at PO Box 1272, Santa Fe, NM 87504 Tel: 505-992- 8929 Fax: 505-986-0051 Web: