Zuni Spirits originally began as "Kindred Spirits" and was meant to be an avenue to market
the artistic creations of David Austin and Darlene Meader Riggs. "Kindred Spirits" was descriptive of their relationship and
to their mutual devotion to rivers, rock art, wild things and wild places.
Darlene & Dave met when both were working as part-time river guides making raft & canoe trips
down the Rio Grande, Pecos, Colorado and Brazos rivers. Though they haven't done commercial trips for
quite some time, they still enjoy packing all of life's necessities into a couple of canoes and heading
downstream away from phones and "civilization" as we know it.
Now living in the piney woods of East Texas, they enjoy a quiet life miles down a dirt lane where the only traffic jams occur at the bird feeder. Nestled among 75 year old trees (pine, oak, dogwood, red bud, cedar, maple) just above the carfish pond and in view of the wildflower meadow lies the home of Zuni Spirits. In between Zuni fetish hunting, finding, photographing and listing, Dave and Darlene each enjoy a variety of creative pursuits.
But how did we get into Zuni fetishes? The L O N G story is here.
...has been self-employed since 1993 when she started her own decorative painting business. She painted
floors & murals, children's rooms, faux finishes, furniture and sisal rugs. Basically anything that could be
painted was fair game.
Now, in addition to painting, Darlene's creative pursuits include polymer clay jewelry, handmade
greeting cards and collages. She also enjoys writing and has a blog, "Dirt Road Heaven", which chronicles her fascination with caterpillar whiskers, the myraid of colors in a sunset and the adventures of being a chicken rancher.
Darlene does all the graphics, writing and website design for Zuni Spirits. If you have a question about invoicing or shipping dates or what's in inventory, please email Darlene.
...was a guide on the Guadalupe River for many years and also an artist working in the
"lost wax" casting method. His sterling silver designs were initially inspired by his love of geology and fossils
and later influenced by rock art and puebloan architecture.
In addition to being a talented artist, he's a SUPERB photographer. Dave is responsible for all those glorious images you see on Zuni Spirits. He's a digital wizard! In addition
to taking all the (jillions!) of fetish photographs, Dave is the "Shippingmeister". Your fetish is lovingly cared for prior to your
adoption and then carefully packaged for travel. Included in your parcel will be Zuni blue corn and turquoise for fetish
"feeding", a certificate of authenticity and other goodies.
Not long after finding each other - Darlene & Dave found Zuni fetishes!
And it wasn't very far into this collecting adventure that they knew a trip to Zuni was required! On that the initial trip to Zuni Pueblo they were fortunate (indeed!) to meet Staley Natewa, Sarah, Leekya, Herbert Him and Travis Lasiloo. In later visits they met Francis Leekya, Saul Yuselew, Maxx & Pernell Laate, Abby Quam, Burt Awelagte, Alonzo Esalio, Gibbs Othole, Lena Boone, Norman Cooeyate & Jacqueline Ghahate, Aaron & Thelma Sheche other talented Zuni artisans. But it was from thatwonderful first experience that our business was truly born and we changed our name in 2000 from "Kindred Spirits" to Zuni Spirits.
Today we consider ourselves extremely fortunate to be able to do what we do. Our friendships
with collectors met along the way, the artists of Zuni (and beyond!) and their families have so enriched our lives.
We recognize, too, our profound good fortune in having the freedom that this lifestyle affords us. The luxury of spending extra time with family, to enjoy our creative pursuits and to explore the great outdoors, in addition to doing something we love, is not taken for granted!
In 2008, after waiting patiently for someone to create a photographic portfolio book of Zuni fetish carvings we finally decided to take on the project ourselves. Collectors (and magazine editors!) have long been complimentary of Dave's outstanding photos of Zuni fetishes so we knew we had the material. Finally, it was just a matter of getting organized and doing it and in September, our book: "ZUNI SPIRITS: A Portfolio of Fine Zuni Fetish Carvings" was published. Governor Norman Cooeyate did us the honor of writing the introduction. You can read collector comments about our book here. If you'd like to order a copy simply email us!
OUR ANIMAL PEOPLE...