Cayuse Western Americana Gallery

An antique shop, Cayuse Western Americana in Jackson, Wyo., invites visitors to touch the wares.

Mary Schmitt of Cayuse Western Americana, image

Mary Schmitt is an expert on antiquities.

Down a side street in Jackson, Wyo., stands a charming two-story museum where you’re free to handle precious artifacts. A Navajo saddle blanket woven circa 1890. An ingot-silver, hand-hammered Navajo cuff. A Northwest Coast feast bowl worth as much as a new motorcycle.

Cayuse Western Americana is actually a gallery run by Mary Schmitt. “Antiques have to be held and touched to be understood,” Schmitt says. “When you feel a thing’s weight and substance, you appreciate its quality.”

Schmitt scours the West for one-of-a-kind items. She can fall head over boot heels for a painting done by a cowboy to busy himself during a long winter. She calls such pieces bunkhouse art.

This year she lost her heart to a small painting of horses by Yellowstone Chip. Never heard of him? “He was a wrangler on a dude ranch in Montana, self-taught,” Schmitt says. “It’s nothing fancy, but folk art can draw you in just as much as a pricey artifact.” Chip’s painting? Yours for $1,200. (307) 739-1940, cayusewa.com.

Photography by Jeff Diener

This article was first published in September 2014. Some facts my have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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