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March 08, 2011

Saturday at the Museum: 3 Generations of Pushing Boundaries

What could be more appropriate during Women’s History Month—and today, on International Women's Day—than to appreciate the complex and nuanced work of a contemporary Native woman artist? Unless, perhaps, it would be to admire the innovative spirit of a Native woman who moved from painting in the traditional Southwestern style to creating abstract art? Or to celebrate the achievements of the first young woman to study at the Painting Studio of the Santa Fe Indian School? Answer? All of the above.

This Saturday afternoon, visitors to the museum and people tuning in to the live webcast can join Margarete Bagshaw for an illustrated discussion of her art and the art of her mother, Helen Hardin, and grandmother, Pablita Velarde.

Artist Talk with Margarete Bagshaw: 3 Generations of Pushing Boundaries
Saturday, March 12, 2011, 2 PM EST 
National Museum of the American Indian | Washington DC
Live webcast: www.AmericanIndian.si.edu/webcasts

Bagshaw Sky Rise
Margarete Bagshaw (b. 1964, Santa Clara Pueblo). Sky Rise Dreams, 2001. 
Oil on linen; 41 x 31 cm. Gift of R. E. Mansfield, 2005. 26/4466

Margarete Bagshaw is a modernist painter whose art is full of subtle patterns and shadings. Bagshaw also creates three-dimensional pieces in clay. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis; the Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe; and the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, among other institutions. Sky Rise Dreams, inspired by the monumental architecture of New York and the absence in the city of the kind of geographic markers so familiar to Bagshaw in the Southwest, is on view at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington through August 7, 2011, as part of the exhibition Vantage Point: The Contemporary Native Art Collection.

Bagshaw grew up surrounded by the daily creative example of her mother and grandmother, two key figures in American art and Native women's history.

Pablita Velarde (Tse Tsan, 1918–2006, Santa Clara Pueblo). Untitled, ca. 1968. 
Acrylic on paperboard;
30.4 x 60.7 cm. Gift of R. E. Mansfield, 2003. 26/3962

Painting was not considered women's work in my time. A woman was supposed to be just a woman, like a housewife and a mother and chief cook. Those were things I wasn't interested in. —Pablita Velarde

Born at Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico, in 1918, Pablita Velarde was accepted at the age of 14 to Dorothy Dunn's new Painting Studio at the Santa Fe Indian School. As a 16-year-old, Velarde painted a mural for the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair. From 1937 to 1943 she was the WPA artist-in-residence during the construction of Bandelier National Monument. Winning virtually every Native art award many times over, her work has a place in most major museum and private collections of Native American art. In 1959 her book Old Father Story Teller—still in print—made her the first Pueblo woman to be published. Velarde painted up until her death in 2006. Without question, she is one of the most culturally significant women painters born in America in the last 100 years.

Helen Hardin (Tsa-sah-wee-eh, 1943–1984, Santa Clara Pueblo). Prayers of a
Hopi Eagle
, 1965. Acrylic on paperboard; 35.5 x 25.3 cm. Gift of R. E. Mansfield,

Listening Woman is the woman I am only becoming now. She's the speaker, she's the person who's more objective, the listener, and the compassionate person.
—Helen Hardin

Helen Hardin, Pablita Velarde’s daughter, described her earliest work as “cute little Indian paintings.” She quickly developed a more challenging style. Today her work is prized for its richly intricate detail and remarkable technical quality. Hardin was the rare woman in the 1960s vanguard of Native artists that included Fritz Scholder, Michael Kabotie, R. C. Gorman, Tony Da, and Charles Loloma. In her short life—she died at age 41 of breast cancer—Hardin received a level of acclaim earned by few artists, winning almost as many awards as her mother. The Helen Hardin Gallery at the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe honors her achievements.

We hope you can join us Saturday for Margarete Bagshaw’s Artist Talk. If you can’t make it in person, please tune in to the live webcast and pose questions to her on her art, or the lives and art of her mother and grandmother, via email to NMAISocialMedia@si.edu.

This program, which is free and open to the public, received support from the National Museum of the American Indian’s National Council.


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I am not much one for abstract art but I do find these works very interesting, quite different from what I expected. I think they would look great on the walls of my apartment. I think I will check out the webcast for more information.

I really admire American Indian women's art work. I just wish that one day I could save enough money to come to Washington and visit the National Museum of the American Indian.

Great blog post, love it.

Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.

Wow these paintings are really great! I like the Tse Tsan, 1918–2006, Santa Clara Pueblo. Really cool. Kind of looks like a ninja.

I like this website it's really cool
Thanks for the information

Whenever I see abstract painting I think of order. I guess that's why they are usually placed in 4-walled places and offices..


Great post, thanks. Love artist like M was. Do you think people like him exist today? I am sure they do.

Great stuff from you, man. Ive read your stuff before and your just too awesome. I love what you’ve got here, love what your saying and the way you say it. You make it entertaining and you still manage to keep it smart. I cant wait to read more from you. this is really a great blog.

cool and awesome! I love it.

I am a huge fan of abstract art. I find this one very unique than the usual paintings. I love the color combinations and the artistic design, it looks very mysterious. I love the Sky Rise Dreams.

Abstract painting really says a lot. I love how it looks and the story behind it. Prayers of a Hopi Eagle Catches my attention. A single painting which is telling the whole story. It is very mysterious and I love the color.

I love abstract paintings, this native paintings are awesome, shapes and colours are really beautiful.

I enjoy the ambigity of abstract art - http://www.myphilwong.com

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