Good friends, Joyce Growing Thunder and her family opened the Northern Plains world to Ted Coe.
The Coe Center, founded by former museum curator and collector extraordinaire, Ralph T. Coe, is dedicated to increasing public awareness, education, and appreciation of indigenous arts, emphasizing hands-on experience and learning through actively engaging art. The Coe’s unusual eclectic collection of over 2,200 objects, represents worldwide indigenous cultures, with its core encompassing the span of historic to contemporary North American Native works.
Our current youth development and artist-led programs include: The Hands-On Curatorial program for high school students, now in its fifth year; The Side-By-Side Artist program; and Coe in the Classroom. And, we host workshops and have several special exhibitions throughout the year, partnering with other arts and community groups.
Ted collected not only art objects, but also immersed himself in the cultures that produced them. He was not one to theorize, but rather chose to expound on the beauty and singularity of art, as well as on the ceremonies he witnessed. As one Native-American artist remembered, Ted was “accommodating; he was easy to be with, laughed and just went with the flow without too much fanfare. He was humble.”
To this day, his loving friends share delightful Ted stories, of how he never met a stranger and was endlessly curious about others. A visitor to his home might leave four hours later, as Ted, eyes shining, would engage with them, talking about the people and history behind the many objects he collected. Ted felt if one sincerely took the time to look at objects, they would draw us into the circle creating the opportunity to cross diversities leading to a greater understanding of each other and our histories and heritage.
Today, we continue to build on his legacy, committed to inspiring people of all ages and from all walks of life to be inquisitive and search beyond their own known experience.
For more about Ted and to enjoy his legacy, visit the Coe for a free tour and more about Ted and all of the Coe programs. We also still have a few copies of the book, “Connoisseurship & Good Pie: Ted Coe and Collecting Native Art.” (Need we mention that Ted loved a good piece of pie?)
Santa Fe, NM 87505.
“All my life I’ve relied on this measured process of aesthetic absorption, whether the work is a Renaissance plaquette or a Native American wearing blanket. It involves returning over and again to the individual work of art. I revisit and bear constantly in mind the objects of my own collection, however large or small, to gain new insights. They are not trophies but instruments of passion, with the power to unexpectedly reveal mysteries.”