Vantage Point: The Contemporary Native Art Collection

August 05, 2011

Nora Naranjo-Morse gives Vantage Point a fitting send-off

From Always Becoming's ever-growing Internet portfolio of portraits by amateur and professional photographers: By the Flickr contributor who calls herself catface3. We can't improve on the photographer's caption: "Modern sculpture of natural materials outside the National Museum of the American Indian. They are designed to gradually wear down under weathering and change over time. Hence the title." Flickr 1806666548

Nora naranjo-morse If you’ve been to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, or even just searched for images of NMAI up on Flickr, you already know the family of sculptures created by Nora Naranjo–Morse in the meadow between the building and Independence Avenue. After the museum’s architecture, Always Becoming surely has the distinction of being the single work of art most likely to be photographed by visitors to this corner of the National Mall.

This weekend offers an unusual opportunity for museum-goers to understand Naranjo-Morse’s artistic thinking, both in creating Always Becoming and in making Stories Upon Stories, a cast-aluminum sculpture inspired in part by Pueblo carved pottery. Stories Upon Stories is one of  31 remarkable works on view through Sunday in the exhibition Vantage Point: The Contemprary Native Art Collection. (Having Nora Narajo-Morse on hand to talk with last-minute visitors to the exhibition represents one of those rare moments of generosity when the universe actually rewards procrastination.)

This evening, as part of the series Dinner & a Movie, the museum is presenting the new documentary Always Becoming, directed by the artist and produced in collaboration with the museum. (The museum's Mitsitam Cafe will serve dinner until 6:30 PM; the movie begins at 7.) Discussion with Nora Naranjo-Morse and and NMAI Video Program Manager Melissa Bisagni follows the screening.

In the film, a work of art in its own right, Naranjo-Morse thinks aloud about the communal process of building her sculptures; the ideas of family, land, and culture they represent; their relationship to the museum and their counterpoint to the symbolic permanence of Washington’s political architecture; and their role as ambassadors of Native ideas and values: “Cultural knowledge has weathered an incredible amount of acculturation. And yet there are simple and truly profound examples of this passed-on knowledge that has informed generations and remains vital to our survival even today.” 

The film also captures the combination of humor, humility, and serious thought that visitors respond to in Naranjo-Morse’s work: “People have asked . . . as we work outside every day, ‘Is this a stovepipe from below the institution?’  ‘Is it a refrigerator?’ ‘Is it a wedding cake?’ ‘Is it a whale?’ ‘Is it an oven?’ ‘Is it a restroom?’ And in that, it’s been very interesting, because that’s really pushed me out of my comfort zone as well. How do I look at those questions that probably a lot of people have in terms of what we make as Native people and what we’re doing as Native people?”

The film will also be shown—alas, without the du=iscussion afterward—Saturday, August 6, and Sunday, August 7, at 12:30 pm (with open captions in English) and 3:30 pm (with open captions in Spanish).

Naranjo Morse- Stories
Stories upon Stories, 2005.
Nora Naranjo-Morse (Santa Clara Pueblo), b. 1953. Cast aluminum, ed. 1/4. Museum purchase with funds donated by David and Sara Lieberman, Larry Goldstone, and the Masterpool Foundation Trust, 2007 (26/5837)

On Sunday afternoon, from 1:30 to 2:30, Naranjo-Morse will present a kind of walking gallery talk. She will begin in the Vantage Point gallery on the museum’s 3rd level with discussion about Stories Upon Stories and continue outside with more thoughts on Always Becoming.

If you haven’t seen the exhibition yet, don’t miss the opportunity to see some of the smart, moving, and challenging work being done by Native contemporary artists. And if you’re unable to come in person (or even if you have), be sure to check out the exhibition’s website, optimized for smartphones and other mobile devices, which is filled with resources for learning more about the featured artists and their work.

In recently added video interviews, photographer Rosalie Favell (Cree Métis) talks about her 2006 self portrait If only you could love me . . .  and her interest in telling stories about her life; performance and installation artist James Luna (Puyukitchum [Luiseño]) discusses his piece Chapel for Pablo Tac, first created for the 2005 Venice Biennale; and painter Mario Martinez (Pascua Yaqui) reflects on abstraction and the cultural and art historical contexts for his work.

Interviews with Truman Lowe (Ho-Chunk) and Marie Watt (Seneca), posted earlier in the exhibition’s run, are available as well. Also featured are artist talks by Kay WalkingStick (Cherokee) on the evolution of her painting over her 45-year career, and Margarete Bagshaw (Santa Clara Pueblo) on three generations of strong women artists in her family.

Elsewhere on the website, you can download the exhibition brochure and an educational guide for families and children, find instructions for listening to the artists’ statements recorded for the exhibition’s cell phone tour, read bios of the artists and follow links to their websites, and learn about the programs scheduled for the exhibition’s closing weekend.  The exhibition is nearing its end, but the content-filled website will continue to be a significant resource.

Uncaptioned photo above: Nora Naranjo-Morse during the creation of Always Becoming. NMAI.

Comments (3)

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keep it up . thank you

nice post

useful info, thank you :)

May 23, 2011

Making Miss Chief: Kent Monkman Takes on the West

UPDATE: Kent Monkman’s performance at NMAI, originally scheduled for June 2011, will take place Friday, February 24, 2012, at 6:00 p.m. Please visit for more information.

Below is an article by Kate Morris about Monkman and his alter ego, Miss Chief. It originally appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of NMAI's American Indian magazine.

MonkmanKent Monkman (Photo by Chris Chapman)

Miss Chief, the legendary First Nations performer, will make her much-anticipated debut in the United States this June, sweeping into the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Her aptly titled solo show The Triumph of Mischief has garnered rave reviews during its three-year Canadian tour.

Portraits of the star already adorn the walls of the Mall Museum. Among the 31 works by 25 artists that comprise the exhibition Vantage Point: The Contemporary Native Art Collection (through Aug. 7, 2011) are five photographic portraits of Miss Chief, collectively titled Emergence of a Legend. Here viewers encounter Miss Chief in various personae. She appears as “The Hunter” in George Catlin’s Indian  Gallery of the 1830s, resplendent in feathered headdress, fringed buckskin skirt and seven-inch platform heels, sporting her Louis Vuitton arrow quiver. In another frame, she is the exotic and alluring “Trapper’s Bride” in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and in another, silent film star Cindy Silverscreen, enrobed in luxurious floor-length fur.

Monkman Kent Monkman (Cree), The Emergence of a Legend (detail), 2007. Digital prints on metallic paper, 6" x 4", 26/7169.

These are the many guises of Miss Chief, but all are ultimately the invention of Cree artist Kent Monkman, who created Miss Chief as his own alter ego. Emergence of a Legend documents Monkman’s assumption of the role of Miss Chief, with the assistance of makeup artist Jackie Shan, designer Izzy Camilleri and photographer Christopher Chapman. The five digital photographs in the series are chromogenic prints, printed on metallic paper and framed in gilded wood to recall the tintype processes of late 19th century portraiture.

For Monkman, both the cross-dressing aspects of his performance and the allusion to visual  representations of the past are crucial. As he once explained it, “Emulating the context of the original[s] as ethnological documentation… [mine] play with power dynamics within sexuality to challenge historical assumptions of sovereignty, art, commerce, and colonialism.” These are lofty ambitions, but anyone who has encountered Miss Chief in the flesh knows that she – and Monkman – are up to the challenge.

Kent Monkman is a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation of northern Manitoba. He was born in 1965 in St. Mary’s, Ont., his mother’s hometown. For the first two years of his life, his family – Cree father, Irish/English mother, and four children – lived in the small Manitoba community of Shamattawa, where his parents had met and served together as Christian missionaries. When Monkman was two, the family settled permanently in Winnipeg, where his father was raised and where many of his Cree relatives still lived. The year was 1967, and Monkman recalled in an interview with Maclean’s magazine that the middle-class neighborhood they moved into was not wholly welcoming to his mixed family: “There were neighbors who wouldn’t speak to my dad when he moved into that neighborhood. It was hard for him to accept that, but he knew that putting his kids into better schools was going to give us a better shot down the road.”

In Winnipeg, Monkman did receive a quality education, especially in the arts. By the age of four he was taking Saturday morning classes at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, determined from that early age to become an artist. At seventeen, Monkman moved to Toronto to continue his studies in painting and drawing at Sheridan College in Oakville. While working towards a degree in illustration (which he completed in 1989) he also became involved in theater and set design. His skills in all of these areas are clearly manifested in Emergence of a Legend. However, the first of Monkman’s works to receive wide critical
acclaim were his paintings.

Monkman Portrait of the Artist as Hunter, 2002, acrylic on canvas, 23.6" x 35.9"

In early 2000, Monkman embarked on a series of acrylic paintings that are inspired recreations of canonical 19th-century European representations of Native peoples and the North American West. Paintings by George Catlin, Paul Kane, John Mix Stanley and Albert Bierstadt are reproduced nearly brushstroke for brushstroke, yet always with a subversive twist that exposes the romanticism and inherent racism of the originals. Portrait of the Artist as Hunter (2002), now in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, depicts a furious buffalo hunt played out across the backdrop of a majestic prairie landscape. In the middle ground, nearly naked Indians on horseback race into the stampeding  herd, while a wild-eyed bull in the lower right turns back on the hunters and towards the viewer. Dramatic thunderclouds tower overhead.

As Stanley or Catlin might have painted it in the mid-19th century, the hunt is at once a timeless scene and an elegy for the past. The Indians and their way of life are destined to go the way of the buffalo, and only the painter is left to preserve their memory. The nostalgia of the image is thoroughly trounced, however, by Monkman’s insertion into the scene of two additional figures in the left foreground. Charging into the frame is an Indian warrior in hot pursuit of a cowboy who flees before him. The cowboy wears chaps but no trousers, and the warrior drawing his bow is taking careful aim at the cowboy’s naked buttocks.

Observing the Indian’s costume – pink beaded headdress band, flowing loincloth and stiletto heels – contemporary viewers will recognize the warrior as none other than Miss Chief. In 2002 she was a relative unknown; Portrait of the Artist as Hunter is the first record of her existence. Though not all of Monkman’s paintings in this vein feature Miss Chief, the role she plays in Portrait of the Artist as Hunter is characteristic of this emerging genre. In Monkman’s paintings, figures of frontier mythology such as cowboys and Indians, trappers, pioneers, missionaries and explorers interact in unexpected ways, trading and fighting but also romancing, cavorting and coupling in this exclusively masculine realm.

Monkman Dance to the Berdash, George Catlin (1796-1872) oil on canvas, 1835-1837, Smithsonian American Art
Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. Object number: 1985.66.442

In a 2007 interview with the Royal Ontario Museum’s magazine, ROM, Monkman was quick to  acknowledge that his vision of the West is a subjective one: “The works of artists such as George Catlin and Paul Kane intrigue me. For many, these romantic visions of the New World and its Aboriginal people were assumed to be literal depictions, a kind of reportage photography of the wild landscape and the ‘romantic savage.’ Of course these painters brought their own values and expectations to their work… They took significant license in their paintings. My work, in many ways, challenges their vision of the world. I’m reimagining their world and I’m bringing my own perspective, my own values and prejudices, to it.”

In particular, Monkman intends to address the erasure of alternate forms of gender and sexuality from the standardized accounts of Native (and non-Native) histories. Miss Chief is avowedly two-spirited, embodying the attributes of both male and female. She represents a third gender category that was acknowledged and honored in many traditional Indian communities. Catlin himself sketched a Dance to the Berdash [third gender] but immediately thereafter noted in his journal his contempt for the ceremony, expressing his hope that such practices (and identities) might soon be “extinguished.” In bringing Miss Chief to life on the canvas and off, Monkman ensures that Catlin’s wish will remain unfulfilled.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of Miss Chief ’s entry into the scene in Portrait of the Artist as Hunter is the fact that from her very debut, she is firmly established as Monkman’s alter ego (literally “other self ”). The title of the work identifies her as such. By the time we see her again, the bond between Monkman and Miss Chief has become even stronger. In the lower corner of Artist and Model (2003) – a painting that depicts Miss Chief in the act of dutifully sketching a cowboy who is stripped  naked and bound to a tree before her – we find the signature “S.E.T.” These are not Monkman’s initials, but Miss Chief ’s; her full name is variously given as Miss Chief Share Eagle Testickle or some shortened form thereof. In naming his alter ego after a play on the word egotistical and then subsuming his identity into hers, Monkman thoroughly confuses the relationship between artist and subject.

A single component of Artist and Model preserves the distinction between Monkman and Miss Chief: aesthetics. Monkman’s painting is typical of this series; it is rendered in an exquisitely romantic/realist style that plays with subtleties of light and shadow, sharp focus and hazy atmospheric effects. Miss Chief ’s painting-within-thepainting is hilariously divergent: her canvas is a sheet of birchbark, and on it her rendering of the model is but a stick figure set against a blank background.

Monkman Kent Monkman (Cree), The Emergence of a Legend (detail), 2007. Digital prints on metallic paper, 6" x 4" each, 26/7170

As fresh, engaging and imaginative as Monkman’s Miss Chief is, it is important to note that as an artistic alter ego, she is not without precedent. Her genealogy may be traced at least as far back as 1921, the year that the Dada trickster Marcel Duchamp transformed himself into Rrose Selavy. According to the mythology that has grown up around the invention of the character (her name is a pun on the French phrase “Eros c’est la vie” or “Eros is life”), Duchamp created his cross-dressed alter ego in an attempt to “get away from himself.” In Europe during the inter-war period, Duchamp and his Dada collaborators decided that the most radical shift in identity that a Catholic man could make was to become a Jewish woman. Thus Duchamp donned the art deco cloche hat, fur coat and lavish jewelry of his colleague Francis Picabia’s girlfriend, Germaine Everling, and Man Ray took the photograph that would immortalize their collective invention.

Once created as a visual image, Rrose took on a life of her own: she authored letters to Duchamp’s friends, created surrealist word games, and, like Miss Chief, ultimately lent her signature to works of art. The sense of liberation from convention that Duchamp discovered in the guise of a crossdressed alter ego is one that many 20th century artists have embraced.

In the world of contemporary Native art perhaps the nearest analog to Rrose Selavy or Miss Chief is to be found in the series of selfportraits that Mohawk photographer Shelley Niro produced in 1991, collectively titled Mohawks in Beehives. In these warm, humorous images, the artist and her three sisters appear done up in towering beehive hairdos, wearing tacky 1950s fashions and clowning for the camera. Niro described the genesis of the series to an interviewer: “[It] was created in March of ’91, after Oka and the Gulf War…. Everybody was trying to fight the depression that lingered over that month. So I thought up Mohawks in Beehives as a way of bringing a bit of control into my life and the people around me; the control is really a state of liberation, a freedom in expressing ourselves. It was liberating in the fact that we just allowed ourselves to act, to be flamboyant and outrageous…”

The following year, when planning a series of works in response to the Columbian Quincentennial of 1992, Niro returned to this strategy, creating 12 new self-portraits in which she is dressed as an iconic “other.” Among the self-portraits of Niro’s This Land is Mime Land series are at least two cross-dressed impersonations. The most delightfully campy portrait depicts Niro as Elvis Presley, an icon of masculine sexuality. In Love Me Tender that sexuality is utterly deflated, as Niro refuses to play her guitar or move her hips, and the legs of her illfitting sequined jumpsuit puddle impotently around her feet. The sly smile on Niro’s face in this image attests to the fact that even – or especially – when confronting issues as serious as the legacy of colonialism, the employment of an alter ego is both a liberating experience and an effective strategy of engagement.

Fans of Shelley Niro’s work will be delighted to find that her photographic installation La Pieta (2001–2006) also graces the walls of Vantage Point: The Contemporary Native Art Collection. It is displayed in the gallery adjacent to Monkman’s Emergence of a Legend. Both can be viewed at once, the two multi-paneled compositions engaging in silent dialogue. The two works are very different in tone, yet both address serious matters: Niro’s is a haunting statement about the personal and environmental consequences of war. Like Monkman, Niro uses the male body as a sensual symbol. Standing amidst the photographs of the landscape of the Mohawk Nation in Niro’s La Pieta is a solitary figure – a softly glowing male torso. “He represents youth, perfect form at its peak,” says Niro. “There is a purity and innocence about it.” Alluring, yet understated, it moves us to contemplate the full gravity of
sacrifice and loss.

If the emotional impact of Niro’s portrayal of the Native body is owed to its sense of reserve, then it is a perfect complement to Monkman’s own performative impulse. Miss Chief was once asked the question, “Why is your personality so large, why do you overwhelm every room you walk into?”
Her reply: “Well, I am up against some very large problems, which require a large personality.” It is likely we will be seeing a lot more of Miss Chief.

Kate Morris is assistant professor of art history at Santa Clara University. She writes on contemporary Native art.

Comments (9)

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I think you and your work is amazing! Saw it in Washington!

really it's a great post! This is truly informative.

Thank you for posting this article. Im a girl who loves art and read any information about art. And your article have opened my eyes that there was great history come within great art.

nice post... i like the fourth picture on this blog, i like the combination of the white and black color of the picture. well, thanks for posting this blog.

I have seen Kent's work at the Musee des Beaux Arts de Montreal and the Musee d'Arts Contemporain. His paintings are the first thing you see when you enter the room and you are immediately drawn toward them. They are absolutely beautiful and fascinating.

Wow, this is really great stuff. Of course, I am fascinated by all things from the American West. I especially liked the painting, which shows the symbiotic bond between the Buffalo and the Indians and the prairie.

Just came across this post. I loved your work and I also had the opportunity to see it in Washington.

Nice work.

Great and informative thanks for the post.

Great blog you have to share that here. Taking on the artistic traditions of Western nineteenth century painting, Monkman's appropriations of 'New World' painting are meticulous. thanks

April 14, 2011

Master Interpreter Rick Bartow, Interpreted by a Friend

Bartow-Deer Dancer This Sunday, Rick Bartow (Mad River Wiyot, b. 1946) will be teaching a drawing workshop at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington. (A few places remain. To register, follow this link and click the "Sign Up" button at the bottom.) The museum will also post a short photo essay about the workshop on the blog next week. Bartow's drawing Deer Dancer for Hyacinth (right) is on view at NMAI through August 7 as part of the exhibition Vantage Point: The Contemporary Art Collection. His art can be found in many other prominent institutions, including the Heard Museum, Phoenix; the Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis; the Denver Art Museum; and the Berlin Ethnological Museum. His honors also include a traveling show organized by the Hallie Ford Museum (2002–2004); a solo exhibition in Continuum: 12 Artists at NMAI's Heye Center in New York (2003); the Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art (2001); and an installation in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden at the White House. 

Northwest imagery, Japanese prints, and Maori and African art inspire Bartow's  drawings, paintings, sculpture, and prints. Oral traditions, especially Native American transformation stories, are also at the heart of much of his work, as are themes of loss, addiction, and personal transformation. Of the many influences or sources reflected in his work, Bartow—who lives in Oregon, near where he was born—has said, "I'm an artist who happens to be Indian. I'm involved in what I can find in my culture, and I use that in my work. Wisdom is wisdom." Here, Charles Froelick, whose gallery represents Bartow, offers insights into his friend's creative process.

Hello, I’m Charles Froelick, posting from Portland, Oregon. I’m honored to write about Rick Bartow, an artist I’ve worked for since 1992. Rick and I met through Jamison Thomas Gallery, the pioneering Portland and New York City art gallery that gave Rick his first national representation. Rick was a pillar of that gallery and he is in my gallery, too. After William Jamison’s untimely death in 1995, I opened Froelick Gallery and humbly began representing Rick. Rick is an artistic omnivore, constantly searching the internal and external worlds for emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and poetic inspiration. It is thrilling to work with someone who just doesn’t stop, but who also knows how to carefully observe. I consider him a genius on many levels, and I hope you can take a moment to get to know him. Rick’s work Deer Dancer for Hyacinth (above) is on view through August 7 at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, as part of the exhibition Vantage Point: The Contemporary Art Collection. Here, I want to write about a few aspects of Rick that I don’t see covered so much in the press.

BAR0201_MythicLovers Once, while we were discussing the broad range of artistic trends, Rick said that he doesn’t think of himself as “a conceptual artist”; he “tells stories through marks and images.” He is definitely an interpreter—he draws, paints, assembles, and carves. His references span a worldwide range from ancient myths to the present moment, and he filters everything through his personal experiences and family heritage. He is also a voracious looker, poring over art books like no one I know, and working/growing through these references in the studio at lightning speed.

When asked about his artistic motivations, Rick likes to quote the explanation offered by the writer Raymond Carver: “Because sometimes only the sound and vision can sustain us.” We have discussed how he hopes his relationship as an artist can unfold with the audience. Rick wants his stories to open up to the viewer, like an unfolding book—not to thrust “one truth” on the viewer, but to allow for different viewings and meanings every day; not to read as only Pacific/Northwest Coast, but to be personal and somehow universal. I believe that the best stories give us broad clues and leave many details unspecified, allowing for our own personal interpretation. Like Zen kōans, they can also obscure the mind for a while, so that we must center our thoughts or think of the situation from an oblique angle. We must find meaning that speaks to us where we are today. 

BAR0113_SurpriseIMany people know Rick as a visual artist, but he has also been an active musician since his teens, writing and performing songs. I think this adds a wonderful facet to viewing his art—he thinks so lyrically, whether he’s drawing or singing. Drafted into the Army when he graduated from college in 1969, Rick served in Vietnam, earning a Bronze Star; the oak leaf cluster on his award recognizes his distinguished service playing the guitar and singing to the wounded. Since the 1970s he has been a lead singer and songwriter in many bands. I have asked him about the relationship of his artwork to his music. He says it’s all about creating a visual. And it is all spiritual in motivation—to find meaning in the eloquence of living and breathing. Whether it’s music or drawing, the premise is very basic—those motivations are the same now as they were for people 1,000 years ago. His work is as elemental as the earliest gestures known.

BAR1951_Ravens_Question Paradoxically, issues of “modern motivation” can get in the way of the perception of indigenous artists’ works. Some people expect contemporary indigenous art to look like it did centuries ago, and that romanticism for ancient, archetypal iterations can wreak havoc on understanding contemporary indigenous artists’ authentic inspirations. We live at a fascinating point in time when modern indigenous artists combine their traditional heritage with their individuality. Outstanding craft and the beauty of creation are present in Rick’s work, as they have been present in indigenous works since the dawn of time. He tries to learn from the past, and his work is absolutely inspired by a collective past, yet his individual view is firmly planted in life today. Rick goes into the studio and writes or draws his way through life. Can’t you just imagine the earliest people going back to their families to paint on the wall and saying, “You wouldn’t believe the wild beast I saw today with my buddies! It was like this. . . . ” Rick goes into the studio and writes or draws about today’s wild beasts. Sometimes they are just the same as eons ago. Sometimes they are very, very different. One of my favorites quotes among the things Rick has told me about his artwork is, “Once it begins, the battle is on! The many marks go back and forth until the war is done. It must play out until resolution, and make cognitive the blindly thrashing marks, line and color.”

—Charles Froelick

Art, in the order in which works appear:

Rick Bartow, Deer Dancer for Hyacinth, 2001. Pastel, charcoal, and graphite on paper; 87 x 203 cm. Museum purchase, 2003 (26/2871).

Rick Bartow, Mythic Lovers, 1994. Pastel, graphite on paper. 102 x 66 cm. Courtesy of the Froelick Gallery.

Rick Bartow, Surprise, 1995. Pastel, graphite on paper. 102 x 66 cm. Courtesy of the Froelick Gallery.

Rick Bartow, Raven’s Question, 2008. Pastel, charcoal, graphite on paper. 76 x 112 cm. Courtesy of the Froelick Gallery.

Comments (8)

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Really wonderful reflections on a stirring artist.

Rick Bartow is a great artist.


Have loved this artist, since (and prior to) his return from a tour of duty in Vietnam. He has this ability to juxtapose hardline graphic influences with a use of intense often primary color, and fantastic, nightmare-like emotional images. Bartow's work apparently emanates from a broadbased knowledge of world mythology as well as art history. Rick Bartow's artwork reminds me of famed artists such as Hieronymus Bosch, Marc Chagall, Horst Janssen and even Harry Fonseca. Keep featuring personalities of this calibre and I for one, would be most impressed.

I attended the sketching workshop on Sunday (11-1) and was delighted! The event was free form and wonderful. Rick Bartow shared his techniques and styles and how to use color. He shared stories of his life and his art. He even shared a native song with us. Very moving. Three young girls took home a sketch from Rick! Thanks to all who made this possible!

We are international seller of online painting and also part of various gallery and once got a chance to Mr Rick Bartow. Beside he is such a great artist he is such a gentle man.

Thanks for sharing this really great collection.

- Matt

Wow this is great. Would love to see this stuff in person. Kinda reminds me of Picasso.

Craig Smith
Dallas Graphic Artist

That’s pretty exciting news and I really hope more people get to read this.

Inspirational... Have enjoyed Rick Bartow's unique style of mythological abstract art for years and his music with the Backseat Drivers is nothing but great fun...

Rick... thank you for your service...

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:

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

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 -

December 02, 2010

A great way to spend an afternoon—say, this Sunday

In a superb essay on artist Joe Feddersen, Elizabeth Woody (Wyampum/Tygh/Wasco/Wishram/Watlala/Diné) includes among the sources of Feddersen’s imagery, “biographical grist and the emotional transitions of daily life” and an “interest in landscape and pattern.” At a day of printmaking workshops for young people at the museum earlier this fall, part of a series of programs featuring artists from Vantage Point, Feddersen explained the process a little differently: “I like to have something to draw,” Feddersen said, perhaps to put his students at ease. "I don't like to just draw from imagination." Feddersen has found inspiration in virtually every part of the world around him, from the landscape of his Northwest home, to Plateau basketry and weaving, to HOV symbols on highways and the pattern of a tire's tread.

Joe Feddersen (Colville Confederated Tribes [Okanagan/Lakes]),
b. 1953. Tire, 2003. Sandblasted blown glass. 26/2874. Photo by
Walter Larrimore, NMAI 

After showing everyone at the workshop how to prepare an even layer of ink on a plexiglass plate and carefully align a sheet of paper to make a transfer drawing, Feddersen settled on an ink roller as his subject. His students, on the other hand, had no problem working purely from imagination. The only materials not used by the end of the workshop were the objects—a pear, a small vase, a wooden rattle—on hand in case anyone was at a loss for an idea.




Above (top to bottom): Joe Feddersen opening the workshop with an
introduction to printmaking. 
Workshop partcipants and their prints.
Photos by Katherine Fogden (Mohawk), NMAI

Unlike drawing or painting, printmaking necessarily includes a moment before the print comes off the plate when even the artist is at least a little in the dark. The suspense proved to be a perfect fit for a studio full of young people. Feddersen nailed it when I mentioned that he seemed to enjoy teaching: "It's that I can’t wait to see what everyone is making!”  

For all Feddersen's technical mastery, the same joy in experimentation and discovery is reflected in his work. It's an element of the artistic process that doesn't always come through in books and exhibitions—one reason why meeting artists is such an exciting experience. This Sunday, December 5—at 12:30 and 2:30 in the gallery—the Vantage Point series features artists' talks by Lorenzo Clayton, Rosalie Favell, and Mario Martinez. If you're able to come, it's a wonderful chance to understand how these three artists create their work, and to take home more than a little inspiration. 

Clayton-Richard's 3rd

Lorenzo Clayton (Navajo), b. 1950. Richard’s 3rd Hand #16, 1995. 
Mixed media. 26/5715. Photo by Ernest Amoroso, NMAI


Favell- If Only

Rosalie Favell (Cree Métis), b. 1958. If only you could love me . . .
(Plain(s) Warrior Artist series)
, 2003. 
Giclée print. 26/5816.
Photo by Ernest Amoroso, NMAI


Mario Martinez (Pascua Yaqui), b. 1953. Yaqui Flashback II, 1991. 
Acrylic and mixed media on canvas. 26/5365. 
Photo by Ernest Amoroso, NMAI

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I am very thankful to the author to write this fruitful information.It is worth sharing for other users.Thanks once again

Attending a workshop is really a good way to spend the weekend. Kids would totally love learning different things. That design by Joe Fedderson is one of my favorite. It is simple but yet meaningful. Nice collections you have here.