On a cool February evening in 2022, Neighbors Ron and Elaine went with me and Neighbor Roy to Tohono Chul for a reception. It was the presentation of the Roy J. Kurtz American Indian Art Collection that Roy had been collecting for almost 50 years. I had the pleasure of seeing his entire collection in his home over many years, but this was the second time I had seen some of his Native American baskets displayed at Tohono Chul Park.
Many of the Park’s volunteers were on hand for this gathering, as was the new Executive Director, Jamie Maslyn Larson. I, in my electric scooter, Zippy, overheard many in attendance commenting on this fine collection of Native American artifacts. They said things like, “Oh, what an extraordinary collection, Roy. How did you manage to establish such fine assemblage?” Then Roy would respond ever so patiently, that he had acquired many of these prize possessions from EBay at various price-points over decades. And then he would go on to explain that almost 400 artifacts remain in his home awaiting to be cataloged and transferred to Tohono Chul.
This exhibit is almost entirely from Roy’s basket collection, the Katchinas, rugs, and other items are still being collected and cataloged. The exhibit now is divided into two rooms, the smaller one for Apache baskets and the larger room for Tohono O’odham baskets.
James and Nicole from Tohono Chul were there. They had been primary in cataloging this collection and setting up the exhibit. Also, there was Sheri, the woman responsible for photographing the articles. She said that so far she had made over 2,000 photographs of Roy’s collection.
Over one basket is a photograph of the woman who created that particular basket. At another basket, Roy explained to me that when he acquired it, the top rim was damaged. So he took it to an expert in repairing such things and for $140 it was returned to him good as new. It now sits in the exhibit and I couldn’t tell that it had been repaired.
Wine was served at this reception, and musicians played in the Spanish Colonial Garden. Jamie told me that she envisioned a children’s play yard eventually adjacent to this Garden. Sounded like a fine idea to me as there is little for small children to do at Tohono Chul now, except to walk around with their adult companions and admire the many plants and flowers.
Jamie also mused about someday having a lemonade stand on the premises. That too appealed to me. Particularly on a hot summer day. Someone mused that it would be interesting to walk the Gardens with Jamie and capture her vision for Tohono Chul’s future. I would be interested in that walk with Jamie someday too.