Inventing the Southwest

  • Navajo rug c. 1885 from exhibition "Inventing the Southwest"

  INVENTING THE SOUTHWEST


Few people realize that a restaurant and hotel chain played a key role in marketing Indian art as early as the 1880s. An exhibit to run through April 1997, at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Ariz., explores how the Fred Harvey Company influenced the art of the Southwest's Indians and shaped tourism in the area. By 1901, the Harvey chain owned dozens of dining cars and hotels along the region's rail lines. To lure more tourists, company founder Fred Harvey asked local Indians to make souvenirs that catered to travelers' tastes: lighter-weight jewelry, miniature pots, baskets and colorful textiles. Eventually, the company began producing its own collectibles: postcards, lantern slides, brochures, playing cards, menu covers and books, all depicting the Southwest and its native peoples. These artworks and mementos - including several hundred postcards - traveled east and forever shaped people's view of the West. The Heard Museum exhibit also includes rare Indian art collected by a spin-off company of the chain.


For more information about the exhibit, Inventing the Southwest: The Fred Harvey Company and Native American Art, or locations it will eventually travel to, including the Albuquerque Museum and Denver Art Museum, contact Juliet Martin at the Heard Museum, 602/251-0232.