Na­tive mas­ters

Ex­hibit fea­tures 20th cen­tury Amer­i­can In­dian artists.

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE -

Eric Sin­gle­ton ad­mits that the Na­tional Cow­boy & Western Her­itage’s new ex­hibit “Amer­i­can In­dian Artists: 20th Cen­tury Mas­ters” might be a bit mis­named.

“On any level, these are mas­ter artists. Of­ten­times I think we men­tion the word ‘indige­nous,’ ‘Na­tive,’ ‘Amer­i­can In­dian,’ and I think that’s re­ally just to kind of pro­vide the pub­lic at large a con­text. Be­cause these are Amer­i­can mas­ters, these are just mas­ter artists ... no mat­ter who you talk to, no mat­ter where you go, no mat­ter when,” said Sin­gle­ton, the mu­seum’s cu­ra­tor of eth­nol­ogy.

The ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures more than 50 works from 40 artists, in­clud­ing Frank Big Bear Jr., Al­lan Houser and the Kiowa Six.

“I’m still pro­cess­ing ... I’ve never had that be­fore,” said South­ern Cheyenne pain­ter Mer­lin Lit­tle Thun­der of be­ing con­sid­ered one of the “20th Cen­tury Mas­ters” dur­ing the ex­hibit’s open­ing re­cep­tion. “I think it’s great.”

At least three liv­ing artists based in Ok­la­homa — Lit­tle Thun­der, Robert Tay­lor (Black­feet, Chero­kee, Osage and Crow) and Vanessa Jen­nings (Kiowa, Apache and Pima) — have work fea­tured in ex­hibit, on view through spring.

“Those are three peo­ple in par­tic­u­lar who are liv­ing will be ce­mented in any his­tory book go­ing for­ward, be­cause they’re just great at what they do. You don’t have a show like this and not in­clude them,” Sin­gle­ton said.

“Mer­lin’s work is so unique ... I don’t even know how to de­scribe it some­times. But then you get Fritz Scholder: When you see a Fritz Scholder you know it. When you see a T.C. Can­non, you know it. When you see a Har­ri­son Be­gay, when you see a Jerome Tiger, and that’s re­ally what

de­fines these peo­ple as mas­ters as well is be­cause you see it and you know it. It’s like say­ing, ‘Hey, I know what a Pi­casso is.’”

Tay­lor said he was ex­cited to see his paint­ing “Like a Can­dle in the Wind” dis­played next to one of Scholder’s works.

“He was a do­ing a lec­ture in Tulsa — and he was just re­ally hit­ting it big, hit­ting full stride — and I went ... and we got to talk­ing. And he’s the one who told me, ‘Do not la­bel your­self an In­dian artist. Don’t tell peo­ple that. Tell ‘em you’re an artist.’ And I never have since then,” said Tay­lor, who lives in Tulsa.

“I’m very hon­ored. I hope that some­thing I’ve done will in­spire some­body young like some of the old-timers did for me and we’ll see all new cre­ations that we can’t even imag­ine yet.”

Premier col­lec­tion

The ex­hi­bi­tion is drawn from the mu­seum’s per­ma­nent col­lec­tions, pri­mar­ily from its Arthur and Shifra Sil­ber­man Col­lec­tion. It was or­ga­nized by Steve Grafe, the cu­ra­tor of art at Mary­hill Mu­seum of Art in Gold­en­dale, Wash­ing­ton, pre­vi­ously the Na­tional Cow­boy Mu­seum’s cu­ra­tor of Amer­i­can In­dian Art.

Grafe said he se­lected in 2015 about 35 paint­ings from the Sil­ber­man Col­lec­tion to show at Mary­hill, and when its run ended there, he of­fered the ex­hibit la­bels and sig­nage to Sin­gle­ton, who ex­panded the show for the larger Ok­la­homa City gallery space.

“The Sil­ber­man is one of the re­ally premier Amer­i­can In­dian art col­lec­tions,” said Grafe at a re­cent guest lec­ture at the Na­tional Cow­boy Mu­seum. “Peo­ple need to see this be­cause they need to know their art his­tory.”

[PHO­TOS BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OK­LA­HOMAN AR­CHIVES]

Vis­i­tors view “Pey­ote Mother” by Archie Black­owl in Au­gust at the Na­tional Cow­boy & Western Her­itage Mu­seum’s new ex­hibit “Amer­i­can In­dian Artists: 20th Cen­tury Mas­ters” in Ok­la­homa City.

Eric Sin­gle­ton, cu­ra­tor of eth­nol­ogy at the Na­tional Cow­boy & Western Her­itage Mu­seum, talks in Au­gust about a “Duck Bas­ket” by an un­known artist, fea­tured in the Na­tional Cow­boy & Western Her­itage Mu­seum’s new ex­hibit “Amer­i­can In­dian Artists: 20th Cen­tury Mas­ters” in Ok­la­homa City

Brandy McDon­nell bm­c­don­[email protected] ok­la­homan.com

BAM

BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OK­LA­HOMAN AR­CHIVES] [PHO­TOS

“Western Front #7,” by Frank Big Bear Jr., is in­cluded in the Na­tional Cow­boy & Western Her­itage Mu­seum’s new ex­hibit “Amer­i­can In­dian Artists: 20th Cen­tury Mas­ters.”

“Duck Bas­ket,” by an un­known artist, is on view at the Na­tional Cow­boy & Western Her­itage Mu­seum’s new ex­hibit “Amer­i­can In­dian Artists: 20th Cen­tury Mas­ters” in Ok­la­homa City.

“Po­etry that falls from the sky,” by Mer­lin Lit­tle Thun­der, is in­cluded in the Na­tional Cow­boy & Western Her­itage Mu­seum’s new ex­hibit “Amer­i­can In­dian Artists: 20th Cen­tury Mas­ters.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.