For 50 years, native Arizonan Steve Getzwiller has been evolving into the premier collector, trader, and expert on the subject of Navajo weavings. Steve has made countless trips to the Navajo Nation, working closely with generations of the best weavers, true artists of their looms, supporting them and helping them to expand their talents and horizons. But for 50 years, Steve Getzwiller has also been collecting other bits and pieces of the West itself, tracking down and ferreting out timeless treasures before they could vanish.
While Steve has had exhibits and showings in museums and galleries before, this is the first time he’s been asked to share his other pieces, bringing out pottery, kachinas, baskets, paintings, and other Native American artifacts as well as firearms, furniture, photographs, and even a rodeo lariat or two of his dad’s. And it’s all at the request of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in an exhibition titled “One Trader’s Legacy: Steve Getzwiller Collects the West.”
“This represents an opportunity to share my lifelong collection with my friends in Wickenburg, those who have supported me for five shows in 20 years,” he says.
When he was 18, Steve traded his childhood collection of Winchester .22 rifles for his first Navajo rugs, and never looked back. Licensed as a trader, he started first with Zuni, and then went on to Hopi and Navajo before focusing on Navajo weavings and slowly developing the best weavers into the master artists with fibers that they are. Some weavers are the third generation in their family to work with Steve, and they consider him part of their family.
A fourth generation Arizonan himself, Steve has roots planted deeply in the ranching soil of southeastern Arizona, even having ancestors who first settled in the Republic of Texas. His deep respect for history and for the “stuff the survivors were made of” has honed his attention on those artifacts which best tell the true stories of life back then, for the cowboy, and for the Native American.
Steve always says he’s a collector first and foremost — and now he wants to share some of his timeless, irreplaceable collection with others.
“One Trader’s Legacy: Steve Getzwiller Collects the West” is on view at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum (Wickenburg, AZ) through September 29, 2019.
The Museum would like to thank the following donors who have stepped forward to sponsor its 2017-18 exhibition season: John and Lynne Boyer; Dita and John Daub; The DeVore Foundation, Alta and Bill DeVore, Trustees; Jim and Rea Ludke; Sharon and Lanny Martin; Elaine and Peter Schweitzer; and Kathleen Parrish and Doug Spencer. They also thank the Arizona Commission on the Arts; National Endowment for the Arts; the Wellik Foundation; and the Town of Wickenburg for their continued support.