It’s amazing how many stories – and generations – can fit inside a 375-square-foot space. You’ll discover that when you visit Azadi Navajo Rugs, tucked away in one of Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village’s more hidden patios, across from Rene Restaurant. The gallery is an offshoot of Azadi Fine Rugs, which has been in business since 1790 and includes locations in Sedona, Scottsdale, Colorado, Wyoming and Hawaii. Five years ago, Azadi’s owner, David Neishabori, decided to open a second Sedona space that specializes in rugs woven by Navajo artists. Right now, the gallery represents approximately 60 weavers, though manager Richard Harvey says there are six to eight core artists who make up the bulk of the gallery’s collection.
The weavings in the gallery range from 12-inch-by-14-inch tapestries meant to be hung on a wall to 8-foot-by-10-foot masterpieces that could be placed under your dining room table. The gallery’s collection includes a rug that dates back to the 1890s as well as a large, colorful weaving from the 1920s hanging above the gallery’s front door. Richard has been with the company for seven years, and he’s eager to share the stories behind the rug designs as well as the personal histories of the weavers. In some cases, Azadi represents three generations of artists from the same family. “We work with weavers of all ages, but it is a struggle for the younger generations,” says Richard. “They want to maintain their identity without weaving the same rug as their grandmother. As artists, they need to have that spark of creativity. They need to stay motivated to stretch their limits and not color inside the lines, so we’ve been working with our collectors to help them start to gravitate outside of their wheelhouse.”
The gallery also offers baskets and masks from artists living in Panama as well as silverwork from families in Mexico. There are table runners and throw pillows, too, but it’s the rugs that steal the show. Richard says most of his clients live outside of Sedona. “Navajo rugs are very unique to the rug-weaving world,” he says. “You will find Turkish and Persian rugs in almost any major city, but Navajo rugs are only produced in a tiny corner of the Southwest. The Navajo Reservation is very small compared to other rug regions, and that makes these rugs highly sought after.” – Erika Ayn Finch. Photo courtesy of Azadi Navajo Rugs.
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