It all started with the shop: Keshi, the Zuni Connection
Zuni Pueblo, located 35 miles south of Gallup, NM, is the largest of the 19 pueblos. Eighty percent of the estimated 11,000 Zuni Pueblo residents make their living from their art. Their geographical isolation challenges their access to markets.
In 1980, the Pueblo of Zuni created its own school district in an effort to better serve the students of the Pueblo. After working with students and their parents, several newly arrived teachers realized that the parents of their students, whose sole income was from their jewelry, were not being given fair prices by traders for the incredible work being created by them.
With the help of a few dedicated community members including Zuni teachers and silversmiths, they decided to create a cooperative in Santa Fe, that would provide a much more equitable market for their work, as well as, providing quality Zuni jewelry and art for the public at better prices. Thus, Keshi, Ltd., was incorporated in 1981. The sole purpose of the shop was to provide quality Zuni work to the public while, at the same time, giving the artists a more equitable price for the time, materials, and creativity of each piece they produced. Keshi, Ltd. also worked closely with the two Zuni High School art departments to provide a market for the paintings and pottery produced by the students. Keshi began with approximately 50 silversmiths, 10 potters, and 10 fetish carvers who were part of the co-op when it opened its doors in Santa Fe Village Mall, downtown.
Eventually, mostly by word of mouth from satisfied and devoted customers, the reputation of the shop grew. Realizing that the shop was demanding more time by the teachers who lived in Zuni Pueblo, the decision was made to sell the cooperative and make it a for profit business while keeping the same goal of providing quality Zuni work to the public and maintaining the goal of the Zuni artists and jewelers realizing substantially more income from their work.
In the late 80’s, the board approached Robin Dunlap, one of the former teachers involved with the co-op, about buying the business. Dunlap had been successfully managing Keshi for the Zunis for some years and believed deeply in its purpose. They proposed that the cooperative would help finance the purchase and so the shop cemented its mission under Dunlap’s ownership.
The shop continued to thrive and expand and in 2002, Keshi, moved to a larger space next door at 227 Don Gaspar Avenue. Robin’s daughter, Bronwyn Fox, then became the owner of Keshi. Bronwyn had spent most of her life involved with the people of Zuni Pueblo, attending elementary school there, making many friends and learning to speak Zuni, and helping her mother at the shop during summer vacations and after her college career. With her background in Zuni and as well as pursuing artistic endeavors during college years, Bronwyn's expanded vision and deep conviction resulted in Keshi experiencing more success.
Keshi now serves over 600 Zuni artists and continues to promote and assist the artists in marketing so that they realize what they should from their unique and exquisite work.