From a press release dated February 23, 1977:
WHEELWRIGHT MUSEUM TRACES NAVAJO DESIGN DEVELOPMENT——
Ganado, Crystal, Two Grey Hills, Wide Ruins …. these areas on the Navajo Reservation have become synonymous with identification of original design styles in Navajo textiles.
On March 8, The Wheelwright Museum of Santa Fe will open an exhibition entitled “Centers of Influence”, (The Role of Traders in the Development of Navajo Textile Design). The exhibition will survey the influence of men like Lorenzo Hubbell, J.B. Moore, C.N. Cotton and Cozy McSparron, who were so significant in the development in the designs and quality of weavers workmanship from the late 1800’s to the present. They were the traders who encouraged, and in some cases financed Navajo weaving, while marketing the textile to the East.
After the 1880’s the Navajo no longer wove for purely utilitarian reasons. Traders cultivated a large Eastern market for their weaving and influenced the textile designs according to the tastes of customers and collectors in the East. Navajo textiles became big business and when Lorenzo Hubbell issued his rug catalog in 1902, the Fred Harvey Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque purchased $25,000 worth of rugs with prices ranging from twenty to one hundred fifty dollars.
Traders continue to influence Navajo weaving even today. Brady Smithson has purchased the Burntwater Trading Post and is nurturing the newest addition to geographic designs. Through his influence, weavers in the area are developing an elaborate style based on the vegetal dyed textiles of Wide Ruins. Smithson sells the weavers pre-carded wool tops (sometimes called roving) in white only. This encouraged Burntwater weavers to continue in the established tradition of vegetal dying. Smithson has now created a register for recording the name of the weaver and her work along with a form which notes the progress of the rug from owner to owner. Burntwater rugs are highly sought after even without Smithson’s influence. Sometimes the textiles are sold to dealers and collectors directly by the eavers themselves and never pass through his hands.
The Wheelwright exhibition of Navajo textiles will have many outstanding examples of transitional and contemporary Reservation designs, original Hubbell design paintings, and supporting information on how the centers of influenced created by the traders decveloped and are still developing today.