Tucked away in West Sedona at Shelby Rd. and 89A in “Chimney Rock Square,” is a gallery that’s easy to miss but definitely worth the effort to find. For treasure hunters and connoisseurs who value high quality old, original and unusual objects and collectibles; ALT Gallery is a place to spend hours. The major focus is on books, music, and collectible art. However, on some days, one might find just about anything imaginable.
The word “Alt” is German for old, and in this gallery also stands for ‘alternative’ to what is expected. Owner and gallery manager Mark Schrader enjoys finding unappreciated treasures and has been doing this for 30 years. He came to Sedona seven years ago after living in Los Angeles. He started with a store in the Hillside Shopping Center; where he initially featured his own collection with the intention of inviting in consignments of historical used items. The gallery has evolved to become more and more of a variety of collectable objects.
Schrader is also part of the group creating the “Sedona Art Museum.” This project is focused on the “Visitor’s Experience” in Sedona and The Verde Valley. Their intention is to provide people ‘that Sedona moment of connectiveness,’ with traveling exhibitions of art.
ALT Gallery has over 5,000 books on varying subjects from literary fiction to nonfiction, that are less common and extremely desirable to collectors. These highly curated specialized books are ‘presented without comment.’ They range from esoteric philosophies, and Native American culture, to art. The library of books includes many on UFOs, astrology, the occult, world religions, afterlife and ascension, Indian Shamanism, the history Sedona, Arizona, the Wild West, WWII and military history, firearms, trains and railroads, conspiracy theories, 1950s science fiction, natural healing and metaphysics. There is also every issue of Life Magazine from 1936-1972. And, the 1st Edition of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” — one of the most sought after American books in history.
A special feature of this gallery is a wall of Dr. Seuss’ limited prints from the author Theodore Geisel’s estate. Schrader is an authorized dealer for the Art of Dr. Seuss and has access to order anything still available from the artifacts of his estate. In addition, there is a variety of American children’s books from Dr. Seuss, Disney, Raggedy Ann, Uncle Wiggily’s and others; along with antique toys… including trains, planes, cars, tanks, carousels, and toy typewriters to be found here.
Speaking of trains, ALT currently has a very large collection of trains. Many are copies of the originals — new and old, with brands like Lionel Line, American Flyer, and Marx. A train collector could literally spend all day looking at this massive collection, and would find it difficult to avoid taking something home. Individual lots of Schrader’s train collections sell online for over $1000.00 in marketplaces like eBay.
ALT’s record collection spans a period from the 1920s to the 1980s with thousands of vinyl LPs in all varieties of music from Rock & Roll to Jazz, with a few unusual finds as well. I stumbled upon an old 45 entitled: “The voice of your soldier @ a WWII camp.” The gallery has a turntable and speakers set up so customers can listen to these albums prior to purchasing.
They also carry a selection of old audio equipment from speakers, amps, and reel to reel tape players with tapes, to a guitar amp. In the LP collectibles there was an original Beatles album called, “Yesterday and Today.” Its original cover was referred to as “The Butcher Cover” and featured the Beatles in butcher smocks with doll parts and blood. It was recalled due to poor taste; and re-released with a ‘Trunk Cover’ of Paul McCartney sitting in the trunk with John, George, and Ringo standing beside him. You can actually see the new cover was pasted over the original. This is perhaps the most collectible Beatles album of all time.
There was a couple who came into the gallery that usually didn’t shop together. She wanted old records and he wanted old books. They usually go to separate places to find their treasures as neither one enjoys what their partner likes. They were delighted to find everything in one place to satisfy their individual tastes. I suspect this happens often in this gallery.
Perusing through ALT, there are original bronze sculptures of Ken Payne’s Indian and Wildlife art, a Susan Kliewer bronze of a Native American woman, and high quality Eskimo “Inuit” carvings. There are original paintings from “Cowboy Artists of America” like Wayne Baize; and nationally recognized Native American artists like Tony Abeyta and Gene Kloss. In addition, there is contemporary art, antique European, French, India, and Soviet Union paintings; with a sprinkling of working artists like Miguel Camarena from Phoenix, with his large Sedona, Grand Canyon, and Desert Saguaro images.
I was amazed to find in the mix, many Civil War swords, and things like and bamboo fishing rods, Kachinas, Japanese wood block prints from the late 1800s like “Kabuki Actor,” lots of old cameras, vintage Christmas items, turquoise and antique jewelry, wood carvings, clocks, watches, and more.
Schrader is a broker for many of his clients. He is also a great art detective and solves the mystery of value. He loves researching items people bring in for consignment. And he’s happy to evaluate collectibles in people’s homes for free. He provides a current evaluation not based on insurance appraisals, but on what items are selling for in the open market. In his research, he reviews the item’s history, auction evaluations, checks on authenticity, and works to get the best price available on every item he sells.
He’s actually a better alternative than “The Antiques Road Show.” As he can provide the same information without the expense of traveling to those locations. Schrader does the photography to advertise collectables online and to high end auction houses. Many of them he sells to museums. And for his consignment customers, he includes shipping and handling to the buyer.
In the near future, Schrader plans to fill a warehouse located in back of the ALT Gallery and call it “Sedona Pickers.” It will have a variety of vintage items ranging from old gasoline signs to Hollywood silk prints and banners from the 1930s. There will also be large tools, old typewriters, and rusty Americana of all kinds.
The atmosphere of ALT is designed to be fascinating for the collector even if no purchase is made. It may appear a little cluttered with the constant influx of new items. However, it’s not unusual for guests to stay several hours, and comment that their experience at the ALT Gallery was the highlight of their visit in Sedona. Some people really do like to dig for treasures, and this is the perfect place to have fun exploring.
Story written by Patti Polinard | Photos provided by Mark Schrader
To explore more of Alt Gallery: visit www.altgallerysedona.com