Kim Martindale discovered his first arrowhead when he was 4, while digging around the hillsides of his home in Regina, Saskatchewan. By the time he was 16, his collection of American Indian art had grown to include pottery, baskets, textiles and beadwork. His bedroom looked like a miniature museum, he said.
"I just fell in love with the ethnic beauty," Martindale said. "I'd ask my parents to take me to museum shows or buy books on Indian culture for my birthday. As I got older, I'd visit swap meets and galleries, trying to buy anything I could get my hands on."
Martindale, now 28, is producing the second Los Angeles Antique American Indian and Tribal Art Show being held Saturday and Sunday at the Glendale Civic Auditorium.
Although the term antique is generally used for an item at least 100 years old, in Indian art, he said, it refers to anything made before 1940. "The visual and textural effect of Navajo rugs made before World War II is vastly different from contemporary ones," Martindale said. "The manner in which the wool was spun wasn't as refined, so there are varying degrees of colors within the colors."
Because tribal items before World War II were made strictly for utilitarian purposes, the works were not signed, he said. Unlike contemporary pieces, "these items were not originally for display or sold to tourists; their art comes from the making, history and respect that went into them."
When he's not roaming the country for old Indian treasures, Martindale lives in Ventura.
This weekend's show, from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, will feature about 50 exhibitions of pre-1940 American Indian art from around the country, he said. Martindale has also produced Marin County's Antique American Indian Art Show and Sale since 1984.
"He might be young in age but not experience," said Don Bennett of Westlake Village, who first met the young collector when Martindale was 12. The two have co-produced numerous art shows in Santa Fe, but now work independently.
"In the past 10 years, public interest in native art has skyrocketed," said Martindale. His particular passion is Southwestern tribes and traditions, and he has six Hopi kachina dolls that date to the turn of the century.
"And I think the interest is positive," he said. "People are learning that each tribe has its own unique background, characteristics, cultures and religions. Their artwork is an important reflection of each tribe's greater whole."
The second Los Angeles Antique American Indian and Tribal Art Show Saturday and Sunday at the Glendale Civic Auditorium, 1401 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale. Hours are noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday . Admission is $4; children under 16 are free. Call (800) 326-6316.