People vs. Things

Bambong & his Family

With every collector, every artist, every hunter, every family compound with something valuable to sell, I am to some degree faced with a conflict. The conflict revolves around paying attention to people vs. things. Because my work seems, on the surface, to be about buying “cool things,” I am usually a bit impatient to look at the pieces that are offered. This isn’t because it is my job; it’s my job because hopelessly, joyfully, I’m so drawn to the quest for beautiful objects. I hunger for beauty: finding it, enjoying it, being altered by it, and sharing it.

Here is the dilemma. When I am at a collector’s home and see something that intrigues me, I want to see it. I’m a hunter. I want to see the “game.” I also don’t want to be rude or be seen as a typical westerner; always into the material world first. What do I do? I know well that the real reward may be the relationship or what I learn from that collector, trader, or artist, or the gift of friendship that matures over time. I also know that most things that matter are built on relationships.

“Building of relationship” is a concept. The reality of my world is that I am charged and recharged by emotion, the sense of kinship, being connected heart and soul to others, and friendship’s love. This is the gold, the icing on the cake. I’m often stunned by how frequently and freely I’m given these gifts. I have momentarily thoughts of unworthiness, but mostly, I live in amazed gratitude when I’m not too hot, hungry or lost.

Early 1900's Horse-Drawn Carriage

An important part of the world of the hunter/trader is the Zone. One can step into the Zone, an altered reality, where things have a life of their own. An 80 year old tribal carving can have beauty, balance, history, patina… all those good things, but without energy, the piece is dead. You need to be able to recognize energy. We feel it, but may not be conscious of it. If you don’t enter the Zone, you may miss some or all the attributes, from its beauty to a powerful healing energy. In that Zone, a state of wonder, exhilaration, discovery, and joy can be found. That’s where I go and hang out when I’m at my hunter-best. It’s almost meditative in nature and induces a state of gratitude for all of life.

It seems that “People vs. Things” is not a conflict, not a dilemma, but rather, an opportunity to dance. Life is the dance partner. It is the ever available, magical mystery tour, full of discomfort, annoyances, creepy crawlies, love and beauty.


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Having journeyed to the Far East and Asia over 20 times in the past 20 years, I’ve been intrigued and inspired by the ingenuity, craftsmanship, balance and human spirit that have gone into the making of those works I have seen and collected.

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