In late March of this year Don Bennett, a professional Indian art collector, dealer and founder of the prestigious Whitehawk Antique Shows, died quickly yet tragically in a single car auto accident in California.
Thirty four years ago, Don Bennett had the idea to gather some of his fellow collectors together in Santa Fe so that they could buy, sell and trade from each other. Inviting about 100 dealers to join him at the Santa Fe Hilton, collectors went from room to room buying and selling Indian art and thus the Whitehawk Antique Shows were born.
Don was a warm and friendly man known for his quick wit and indomitable sense of humor who always had time to share his vast knowledge of antique Indian art with anyone who had the time and interest.
But he was also a showman; under his leadership, Whitehawk quickly gained popularity outgrowing both the Hilton and its parking lot. As friend and fellow dealer Lane Coulter put it, “Don’s concept of a major show in Santa Fe was perfectly timed and quickly captured a national audience.”
Now in its permanent home, the Santa Fe Convention Center, Whitehawk has grown to be one of the country’s premier antique Indian Art shows. “The original process was just to get people together who were interested in American Indian Art. For a lot of us collectors and dealers, this was a huge social event. I’m happy the show has continued on and kept up the quality,” Don said several years ago.
Jan Brooks of Coulter-Brooks Art & Antiques, remembers Don fondly as someone who loved to tell stories and jokes and would sometimes even burst into song. “Don will be sorely missed but he leaves behind the legacy of having created a show that through the years has offered significant exposure of American Indian art to countless people who have subsequently joined our community of collectors, dealers and scholars.”
“The passing of Don Bennett is a huge loss for everyone in the antique Indian art community. We all regard him so highly and his smile, kindness and camaraderie will be so missed by all of us who considered him family,” says Marcia Berridge, current owner of Whitehawk. “Don has made a lasting contribution to this city and its art market and he will forever have a place in the hearts of his friends at Whitehawk.”
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