James Stephenson, an African art dealer along with 13 other art dealers will be hosting Madison Ancient and Tribal Art (MATA) May 10 – 16, 2013 for Tribal Art lovers to come see and purchase pieces of their liking. I had the fortune to meet with James and discuss the exhibition, some of the pieces that will be available, and his history in art.

Is this your first time cultivating such a large show?

Last year we had a show that was not quite as large. Maybe 10 people. And this year it’s at another scale and eventually want to mushroom this to a major Tribal Art Week in New York City. You have the Parcours in Paris, the Bruneaf in Belgium – these are huge tribal art shows that bring in maybe 40 dealers. We eventually want to get there, but in a way we’re almost there. Because of this other show which is the AOA. They’re bringing in maybe 10, 12 dealers and some other galleries that there cards and directions will be at our show.

So it’s been going well for you these past years we’ve been dealing?

Yeah, it’s been going really well. About five, six years ago after my book I just stopped writing. I wrote two more books and did not get them published. Maybe I didn’t push hard enough, but it was time to make money. I had been landscaping and dealing art, but I was more of like a runner. I would find pieces, sell them to other dealers and so then I started doing these international shows and building my career.


Tell me about some of the pieces that’ll be available.

Kevin Conru has a great Cameroon piece. It’s like a shaman scepter. I have an amazing South African knobkierrie, but it’s like no knobkierrie you’ve ever seen. There’ll be some oceanic pieces from various dealers. I mean you have two or three of the top oceanic dealers in the world coming. Some people will go into a show like this looking for utilitarian forms – shears, spoons, door posts. It’s a form of collecting tribal art that may not be as expensive, like a mask or figure. So if you want to get this fantastic door post for your living room that looks like a modern sculpture that might cost $3,000 rather than trying to find a rare mask that costs $30,000.

What’s an introductory piece, if I didn’t have that much to spend?

There will be all levels of art. You can buy something for $500 or $1,000 that’s going to be authentic and go up in value. So really any range. I’d just go in with an open mind if you haven’t collection tribal art and look to find something you like and ask for the price.


During Tribal Art Week along with Madison Ancient and Tribal Art (MATA) there will be art shows at Sotheby’s – African Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art, Arte Primitivo, Pace Primative and others. MATA will feature pieces by Kellim Brown, Kevin Conru, Bruce Frank, Wayne Heathcote, Ambre-Congo, Joe Loux, Thomas Murray, Amyas Naegele, Joaquin Pecci, PMBoyd, Adrian Schlag, James Stephenson, Splendors of the World, Leonard Kalina.


Informal Preview – Thursday, May 9 6pm – 8pm

Opening Reception – Friday, May 10 3pm – 8pm 

Post Auction Cocktails – Thursday, May 16 4pm – 8pm

Show Hours: Saturday – Wednesday, May 11 – 15, 11am – 7pm
Thursday, May 16, 11am – 8pm

Arader Gallery, 1016 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10075