Authentic Indigenous Art at American Trails Gallery
For Shane Bloodworth, resurrecting the old American Trails Gallery store was something that had been on his mind for a long time. He arrived in Ashland from Texas in 1997 to visit his mom and liked it so much he decided to stay. He was also a fan of indigenous art.
“I managed American Trails Gallery on the Plaza from 1999 to 2004, and once I became employed there, I also became a collector,” Shane said. “I had always wanted to open a Native gallery here, but Dave Bobb, the owner, had a really nice store and it was such a small town, I never thought I could compete with the gallery.”
In 2004 Shane went to work at Harry & David. Then in 2012, Dave decided to retire and close the gallery.
“We talked about me buying it then, but I wasn’t ready or able to do it,” Shane said. “He and I stayed in contact through the years, and finally at the end of 2016 we partnered up and re-opened American Trail Gallery at our current location at 250 E. Main Street.”
The store carries a wide variety of indigenous art of the Americas—from Canada and Alaska down into South America. The selection includes antique baskets and rugs to pottery, jewelry, Northwest Coast masks, plaques, totem poles, new jewelry from Navajo, Santo Domingo, Zuni, Hopi and Taxco, plus rattles drums, carvings, beadwork, new pottery from the pueblos and Mata Ortiz, and paintings.
“We love for people to come in and just look around,” Shane said. “We enjoy discussing the background of the artist or the materials used to make an object. All the staff have been around the art for many years and are very knowledgeable about all the items. We really have museum quality pieces in the gallery, and we love to show them and talk about them. Even if you aren’t interested in buying, there is a whole history lesson on each item.”
Customers can expect to see real Native art. “I hear so many people say they went into a Native store or casino and the items say ‘made in the Philippines or China,’” Shane said. “There are masks being made in Bali to look like Northwest Coast masks. They are very good but not authentic Native pieces. We deal directly with many of the artists, and all of the artwork is authenticated.”
Shane mentioned that there aren’t many of these galleries still around outside of the Southwest.
“I wanted a place where these great artists could display their artwork,” he said. “Could I do this online? Probably, but I really want people to appreciate the extraordinary artwork these artists are making today, not in the past, in a gallery setting where they belong.”
American Trails Gallery also does free appraisals on Native artwork.
For more info, call 541-482-2553 or go to Americantrails.com. You can also see them on Facebook.