In the ongoing controversies over art objects and their provenance that often put dealers, museums, and collectors on the defensive, Peaceful Wind Gallery's Ian Alsop is "lucky," he says with a smile, that "I don't deal in things taken out of the earth."
Tibetan and Nepalese art objects are specialties of the gallery, which communicates a museum-like reverence for them. Next to a bronze Buddha hangs a late-18th-century Tibetan scroll depicting the Buddha Sakyamuni and the 16 Arhats, or enlightened ones. A16th-century statue of Vajradhara, which Alsop says is one of the largest Nepalese sculptures in existence, sits opposite his desk. Alsop buys all of the art from regional collectors, he says. After logging time as a reporter on the Vietnam War, he settled in Kathmandu, Nepal. In 1988, he returned to the States and founded his gallery in 1989. He travels to Asia often: "I'm bi-hemispherical." His son, Vajra, manages the gallery when Ian travels.
Alsop maintains connections in New York City and uses the Internet to stay in contact with collectors. He does well enough to have sponsored a show of contemporary Tibetan art called the Lhasa Train-soon to be traveling the United States, though he says dates and venues are pending. The artists included are the first to paint outside the Tibetan religious tradition in perhaps a thousand years, says Alsop, who adds that some still won't sign their works.
The scholar and entrepreneur divides his time between selling at antiquities shows and planning this traveling exhibition to help broaden knowledge of art currents in Asia. Alsop's work, he says, is to "preserve the culture I love."
129 West San Francisco Street, 505-983-7658, peacefulwind.com