By Jeffrey Gillespie For the Tidings
Dave Bobb, the longtime proprietor of American Trails gallery (an influential gallery that existed for decades on the Ashland Plaza as the go-to venue for premier Native American Indian art, only to close its doors some five years ago) has decided to reopen his space at a new location in Ashland, in collaboration with his onetime gallery director, Shane Bloodworth. I touched base with Bobb to discuss his vision for the new art venue at a time when many other galleries in the city are closing down.
JG: You closed American Trails a few years back. What lead to the decision to reopen?
DB: I relocated my Native Arts Gallery from Sacramento to Ashland in 1990, and I retired in 2012 to enjoy more skiing, golfing and time on our boat in Brookings Harbor. I continued to buy and sell historic material and sold at shows in Santa Fe, and to private collectors. One of my gallery managers, who was with me from 1999-2004, Shane Bloodworth, decided to leave the corporate world in 2015. It was always a dream of his to have a gallery in Ashland. He was a collector of Native Art, and he approached me about reopening American Trails. I told him that would be great, but that he would have to be the one to run it on a day-to-day basis and I would help him in things such as appraisals and finding more historic material for the gallery.
JG: What sort of art can we expect to see in the new space?
DB: The new gallery will look and feel very similar to our (original) gallery on the Plaza. The new space is not as large, but it has a nice high ceiling, so we will have more space for fine art. American Trails Gallery continues to feature the arts and crafts of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Weavings from the Navajos and Zapotecs, carvings from the Hopi, Zuni, Haida, Kwakiutl, Iniuit and from Oaxaca. Pottery from many of the pueblos in the Southwest; Acoma, San Ildefonso, Zuni, Cochiti and the Mata Ortiz of Northern Mexico. Handmade historic and contemporary jewelry from the Zuni, Santo Domingo, Haida, Navajos as well as from Taxco, Mexico. We will have one of the largest selections of historic basketry in the Pacific Northwest, including Pomo, Maidu, Hoopa, Karok, Wintun, Shasta, Modoc and many more. We will also feature local and national artists depicting the wildlife and landscapes of the West. When you purchase art from American Trails, you are helping to support hundreds of families who are working hard to keep the traditional arts and crafts of their communities alive and well.
JG: What is your history with the sort of work you offer, and how did you come to be in this line of work?
DB: Well, I grew up watching Hop-a-long Cassidy, Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett on a black and white TV, along with all of the rest of the cowboy and indian shows. I still have the first arrowhead that I found when I was 8 years old, and I have been collecting ever since. After successful careers as a landscape architect and a general contractor, I decided to try and make a living out of my passion for collecting. It worked! I have been happily employed in the Native Arts field for over 30 years. My business partner Shane was always interested in learning the history of the native peoples as a child, but it wasn’t until he came to work at the original American Trails in 1999 that this interest and expertise expanded and he began researching and collecting native arts and crafts in earnest.