Introduction to the Warnock Collection
The public was introduced to the Splendid Heritage Collection of Native American Art in 1995. Santa Fe’s Wheelwright Museum mounted and hosted what had come to be known as a legendary collection - the Richard Manoogian, Epic Fine Arts / MASCO Collection of Native American Art. In May through September 1995, forty-one objects were on display. It was a beautiful and moving exhibition. The response was visceral and undeniable. The exhibition had a mesmerizing effect. A sense of awe, reverence and wonder permeated the museum’s galleries. This small group of cultural treasures, artistically crafted and imbued with the sacred signs and symbols of their people, spoke across the time and space of the last three centuries and the North American Continent. It was a discreet exhibition with a profound message about the people who created these objects. These garments, tools and ritual objects proclaimed their makers’ identities. They served as protective devices, connecting the natural world to the world of the great spirit.
The collection catalogue, sensitively compiled and edited by Jonathan Batkin, remains a classic.
Native peoples, scholars, curators, collectors, and dealers all knew in various and disparate ways that a great collection had been formed. Some were privileged to participate and collaborate in this formation. Art dealer, Alex Acevedo was the original collector and primary mover. His passion for the American Frontier and tireless pursuit of Native Art first came to the public eye in 1983 when his collection was exhibited and catalogued. The exhibition, Akicita: Early Plains and Woodland Indian Art from the Collection of Alexander Acevedo, was held at the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles, California. Akicita became the foundation for the Epic Fine Arts / MASCO collection.
A vibrant collaboration blossomed between Alex Acevedo and Richard Manoogian. The shared passions of others contributed additional objects, time and expertise. Ellen Taubman, the advising curator, along with scholars, dealers and friends all had impact on the collection. Richard Pohrt Jr., dealer, collector and independent scholar added greatly to the understanding and cataloging of the collection. As the collection grew its focus matured and was refined. Some of the Collection's most important pieces came through auction or direct purchase from the collections of James Hooper, Dennis Lessard, Charles Messiter, and Andre Nasser.
Experienced together these objects provide an intimate glimpse into the American Frontier from the Native perspective. They reveal Native people’s primary connection to the spirit world as well as their remarkable adaptation to the rapidly changing dynamic of the American frontier.
The Splendid Heritage exhibition was known to be only “the tip of the iceberg.” By this time Richard Manoogian had created a truly formidable collection. Loans from the collection appeared in prominent exhibitions and publications. The remarkable scope and depth of the Collection, however, remained largely unseen although carefully catalogued, stored and occasionally studied.
Serious collectors understand they are time bound caretakers. Richard Manoogian proved to be an exceptional caretaker. His vision and collecting acumen molded the collection. Now, the Warnocks continue that legacy.
The Splendid Heritage web site, when complete, is intended to present this beautiful collection in its entirety. Each object is photographed, described and cross- referenced by tribe, region, date and type. The web site’s goals are simple information access and a sharing in the great pleasure of experiencing this art. The site will grow and mature as formal and independent scholarship contributes to our understanding of these remarkable objects.
Ted Trotta and Anna Bono, 2004