According to Marin, when Thom Weisel first became interested in art, it wasn’t the Native American art that would later define his philanthropic career that drew his interest: it was contemporary art, all bold colors and shapes. But over time as he began to see similarities between contemporary art and the works of Native Americans, Weisel began collecting works from the Navajo, Pueblo, and Hopi nations. “Lines on the Horizon,” published by Marin in 2014, details Weisel’s fascination with art, highlights stunning pieces from his collection, and praises his generous donations to the de Young Museum.
Weisel cites time spent in Sun Valley and the first Native piece he acquired, “a third-phase chief blanket” that he purchased from artist Tony Berlant in 1973, as what sparked his interest in Native American art. Since then, he has collected enough pieces to span a 1,000-year history of Native works from different nations. Weisel and his family have donated over 200 pieces of the collection to San Francisco’s Fine Arts Museums.
Marin’s feature celebrates Weisel’s extensive collection by sharing photographs of a few special pieces: an 1830 poncho serape from the Navajo people; a beautiful ceramic vessel from Arizona’s Hopi-Tewa; and a now 135-year-old water jar from Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico.
In addition to the photographs and descriptions of the pieces, the article also discusses the exhibit Weisel’s donations went into at the de Young Museum. The exhibit, likewise titled Lines on the Horizon, features 70 of the 200 pieces that were donated. De Young Museum curator Matthew Robb, tasked with choosing the pieces for the exhibit, said of Weisel that “it is always a pleasure to look at art with someone who has an intuitive grasp of aesthetic merit.”
Marin also details an endowment Weisel made to the museum which allows for its curators and researchers to learn more about the people who made the art, what they were like, and how they lived.
Colin B. Bailey, then-director of the de Young Museum, described Weisel’s donation as having the power to “reshape the Native American art collection” at the museum.