"If you want to see the largest variety of Indigenous Art in the world head to Valez Galleries"
Mike started making furniture as an employee before seeing how much mark up his products were being sold for. It didn’t take long for him and his brother to go into business for themselves. The furniture business developed into jewellery trading, and since 1988 his travels and trading have taken him to many indigenous Nations. The products purchased on those travels are on display in the store’s beautiful display cases, all handmade by Mike himself.
When I first met Mike he was busy on a jewelry creation of his own, his smiling face half covered with safety goggles. The biggest challenge he says, is educating people about the difference between indigenous “style” products as opposed to the genuine article. “The UPS man delivers nothing but light bulbs to me, as I’m not ordering from catalogs”, Mike proudly stated when I talked to him recently. He encourages visitors of the Westside to pick up a souvenir that is the real thing.
Mike has always had a “Fair Trade” policy and has raised thousands of dollars for the communities he purchases from. While visiting his store he showed me a collection of old photographs of his travels and the people who supply him. He continues to raise funds that help the artists and crafts people that produce the work for sale in his store. You can see the photos yourself on display, currently beneath a beautiful landscape painting by his artist brother Andrew.
If you’re considering purchasing indigenous art in the Colorado Springs area, check out Velez Galleries, or stop by on the next Art Walk. Not only will you be able to purchase quality, genuine jewellery or art, but you are supporting a Westside community business and the communities of indigenous people – 100% handmade in America.
You can find Velez Galleries at 2506 W Colorado Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80904
This article was originally posted on WestsideFocus.com in 2012.
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