When you think of Native American art in Sedona, some family names come to mind: Hoel, Wilcox and, of course, Garland. The Garland family moved to Sedona from Phoenix in 1970 (they had spent years vacationing in Oak Creek Canyon), and in 1972, patriarch Bill Garland opened Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge. Not all families can work together, but it seemed to come natural to the Garlands. In 1976, Bill, along with his son Dan and Dan’s wife, Tricia, opened Garland’s Navajo Rugs on the same plot of land where the family previously sold apples from the lodge’s orchard every fall. The Garlands designed the building to resemble a trading post; the beams in front were hand-carved by Native American artisans living in Taos, New Mexico. The family made trips to area reservations and then Navajo weavers began bringing their goods to Sedona. “Eventually, we had the world’s largest selection of Navajo rugs,” says Dan. “We had more than 5,000 rugs hanging here.”
Dan is reluctant to continue to claim that title, but the 5,000-square-foot space still boasts several thousand rugs in all sizes and colors. (Bill passed away in 2008.) Dan learned to speak some Navajo in order to communicate better with the artists, and he even learned how to weave. “The Navajo girls would make fun of my crooked loom,” he says, laughing. As the shop’s reputation grew, other artists began to trickle in with kachinas, pottery, baskets and sandpainting, but the gallery held out when it came to representing jewelers. That was the job of Garland’s Indian Jewelry, which opened in Oak Creek Canyon in 1985 and then doubled in size in 1990. (The family also owns the adjacent Indian Gardens Cafe & Market.) Last year, the rug shop finally added jewelry to its collection and plans to bring in even more next year.
The rugs are all displayed by size and by regional style. A visit to Garland’s is a tutorial on the many factors that go into rug weaving, and yes, the majority of the rugs are meant to be placed on the floor, though Dan admits most wind up hanging on the wall the same way you’d hang a piece of fine art. Dan says Garland’s Navajo Rugs is in the process of receiving a bit of a facelift, and he hopes to start hosting artists who will demonstrate weaving and carving techniques next year.– Erika Ayn Finch. Photo courtesy of Garland’s Navajo Rugs.
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