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Art education -- for non-artists -- is usually said to be about appreciation of values somehow, it's often not at all clear what "values" actually means, if anything. What do other Indian people think about this? Email it to me, for this page: Indian opinions about values in art. But before you do, check out most everything in both "halves" below -- first, market values, then maybe some other kind. The images are part of it; use NetScape's GO menu item's History to return here. Then to email an opinion, click on it here, and go to the Indian Opinions About Art Values page, there is a pre-addressed email form there.
First half (down to the "4 suns" line) is values of: the market--the classy art marts of Santa Fe and other Arizona-New Mexico tourist art gallery towns, and scattered ones found elsewhere, where money wanders about looking to buy. The Indian artist who is accepted here can make a lot of money (of course the dealers take a big cut, and make a lot more). Check some of those prices.
Note:Almost all of these links, and the corresponding site design, have changed since Paula wrote this page. I will leave here words so you can "see" what she saw, but will try to update the links, as best I can. KMS
The Rio Grande Gallery--This is the entrance foyer to the gallery, a photo giving the feel of having come into this classic yupscale place in Santa Fe. The experience without the reality, where they would throw the likes of me out, and maybe you too, unless we quickly waved a handful of credit cards at them. Enter the gallery leads to a hallway gallery with images of serigraphs by Gorman, Pena, and Nieto, each leading to their individual pages. Note:Only Gorman's work Remain on display here. KMS
John Nieto, bio--John Nieto's artistic bio tells nothing of his personal life or Indian heritage. All 4 Nieto pictures on display at the Rio Grande Gallery are incorporated in the bio as thumbnails, as if they illustrated it (the pix are not actually discussed). Note:This article is from ArtLife, not the Rio Grande Gallery. KMS
Gorman has been one of my favorite artists for many years. I don't like it though that too many talented Indian art students go down to Santa Fe and come back painting like imitation Gorman.
Amado M. Pena--This is the Rio Grande Gallery's only Pena; it's stated more to come. "Patrones de Navidas" is one of the Kings who came to the birth of Christ, but he's Indian, not oriental, like the Biblical 3 kings. The gift he brings is a Pueblo-style painted clay pot, Background is Navajo type blanket. Pena shows Spanish-Indian Christian influence, like the Pueblos that have Indian dances in the plaza outside the church for Catholic ceremonial days. Pena is artistically claiming all the good parts of Christianity for Indian religion-before-missionaries, we knew it already, because in spirit we (that king, Patrone) were there. Serigraph $400. Hum. Note:Link is now to Peña's own gallery
Amado M. Pena--A J&I Art Dealers gallery of half a dozen Pena "Mestizo" (mixed-blood, Spanish and Yaqui Indian) Series paintings.
Amado Pena: Resume--his bio shows he knows the life of ordinary people of the land. His photo is here too.
El Taller Publishing--Sole Publisher of Pena's work. Indian-looking families in blankets, a pretty painting, of no particular power, $13,000 at a Santa Fe gallery. Hum hum. Should give you some idea, young artists, why Santa Fe is such a draw.
Mark Silversmith Studio--Homepage and some description for this well-known Navajo artist. On his Gallery page here are half a dozen fine landscapes, most of them watercolors. The Silversmith gallery does not use a fancy layout or colored backgrounds. Instead a lot of info is given by Silversmith about his reservation life, artistic development, and the meanings of each of his watercolors on display (as prints for sale). The homepage has a menu that leads to his picture gallery. One of the most informative and educational of the web commercial galleries, especially about the Indian background of the artist; no coincidence it's run by an Indian (the artist himself), I mean Silversmith's real, physical gallery.
Mark Silversmith: Navajo Artist--He tells of his early life on the reservation, and his artistic growth.
Mark Silversmith: "Early Spring Thaw"--This beautiful watercolor from the Silversmith Gallery page (which shows for-sale prints made from paintings) won first place, Best of Division, at the prestigious Santa Fe Art Market show in 1991, and Silversmith doesn't even mention that here! Silversmith says of it that the "warrior in the melting snow stands between Winter and Spring". To many it also symbolizes the condition of Indian people now: passing out of the chill of genocidal near-extinction into a better future, but right now, in transition. Still gets pretty cold for many of us; casinos isn't spring.
Tavlos--This is a web InterArt gallery-mall listing. There is little information about Tavlos, who is probably not Indian, though I'd like to think he's of Indian descent because he's funny. His work is very interesting, paintings that are in a modern Indian style and apparently sell very well at moderate-high prices. "Mirth and mayhem" characterize many of his paintings (there are lots on display here) as indicated by their titles: "Hauling Ass through the Land of Enchantment" is one of a series called "Pissing in the wind". Hauling Ass is a " loveable little character invented by Tavlos in 1987" who is usually stealing something and h.a. or he's caused some kind of trouble and is h.a. away from it. Unfortunately this InterArt displays all pictures only in small "playing card" size, so you can't get a good look at most of his works here.
Fidel Koshare Coyote, Tavlos--Neon sculpture, an outlined moon with a striped clown-like coyote (also neon-outlined) howling at it.
Let us see, is this real, Let us see, is this real, This life I am living? You, Spirits, who dwell everywhere, Let us see, is this real, This life I am living? --Pawnee Song
There is some question in my mind whether Electric Gallery safely skirts the provisions of the Native American Arts and Crafts Act with Woll and the non-Indian artists of their Southwest Wing. They don't say Woll is Indian, so it's not overt misrepresentation as Indian art, but I believe most potential buyers will not notice that an anthropology student who studied with Bill Holm, is very unlikely to be an Indian artist. By not-saying, they imply, and the buyer is free to believe and probably will believe, that this is Indian art. The buyers in this type of gallery (physically in Virginia, offerings seem very low-cost as art-for-trendies goes, buyers will be unsophisticated) know nothing of the Native American Arts and Crafts Act anyway. Thus the economic-political question this particular exhibit raised for me is "what does the law mean by misrepresentation, anyway?"
Obviously falsely claiming to sell Indian Art when not done by an enrolled tribal member or an officially sanctioned associate artisan is misrepresentation, and violates the law. Is it misrepresentation to not-say the artist is Indian, but lead the naive buyers to assume he is? Almost all commercial galleries of Indian art (except those actually run by Indian people) are now doing that. They not-say any tribe for any artist. So you still can't tell real from fake Indians there! Commercially-sold Indian art is still pix of vaguely Indian subjects or styles, by anyone -- anyone that can be sold high.
The values of the market -- really there is only one, money. Notice that this says nothing about other values the artwork itself (or the artist) may have, because in the market, it's just a product, an item, a thing to be sold. The sales industry includes lots of fakery and flackery -- an academic and a publications and an evaluation industry, as well as dealers, that produces what is in effect and in use sales hype in the guise of scholarship. In spite of all that, the art and through their works, the artists, still can and do speak for themselves. Those real values are quite independent of the market's valuation: who did it (are they famous?) and what's its price? (more if famous)
Well, you can see that I don't like this. And yet I support the market, try to help young artists get into it, and such. Even here, I'm using these web galleries as an opportunity to help educate young artists about the market, marketing, market prices. Because our talented artists must and should be able to earn a good living from sales of their works. The market is a machine for pushing sales, upping prices and profits, and for creating monetary value for artworks by artificial methods of hype, but the artist does benefit from this too. On the negative side, many artists adjust their visions, their styles, their media to what the market wants to sell.
A thought-experiment, young artists: Your dealer tells you "Well if you continue to paint this type of thing, I can continue to sell a few of them for a few hundred. If you wil paint/scuplt me some like this (whatever's hot) I can sell them as fast as you can get 'em to me, for $12,000." What is going to happen to what and how you paint? But ... what are you going to tell yourself about that? Probably you are going to talk yourself into thinking that these $12,000 hot products was what you wanted to do -- where your vision led -- anyway. And that is what corruption-by-money is, for artists. But say you got 4 kids, and you really want to spend more time painting, give up your job pumping gas, let's say. So: the market, it waits for you. Positive: good money, fame. Negative: it may buy your spirit, too, don't say "Couldn't happen!" till you've experienced some of the offers that get made to buy people's spirits, to sell out.
The second half, about art values: the heart? the spirit? no, that's above the sunline too in the artworks, but the opposite of the first half somehow. Below, some artists who have done well in shows and exhibits and demonstrate solid talents in their works. But there is more to these artists than high sales prices in classy galleries. Some do OK in the market, too, but they keep their roots.
Vic Runnels - Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Artist - Resume--Ordinarily, I would not put an artist's resume before his works, but Vic's gallery page comes up with a painting at the top of it I want to discuss with another of his paintings. The resume shows a long and distinguished career for this 60-year-old painter, from his early studies in commercial art school--where he also was involved with the Sioux Club of the Chicago Indian center, and art teaching for Indian youth there--to his European gallery shows. The resume also demonstrate's Vic's committment to the future of Indian art and young artists, through his work in art education and the preparation of curriculum materials. Most recently he has worked for several reservation hospitals and medical centers on Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations, selecting art that can brighten the spirits of patients and their families. He speaks about Indian art and culture in the U.S. and Europe. Not on the resume: when angry Indian people in Chicago (a major BIA Relocation terminus) took over the abandoned Nike missle site on the lakefront "Point" in 1970-71, and later in the Cubs stadium set up a tipi village, to dramatize their need for services from the BIA, Vic contributed artwork for literature, and helped to write some.
I don't know how his prices and sales from Rapid City, SD (and nearby Pine Ridge Reservation) compare to those represented by high-class Santa Fe dealers, I would guess not so much money, not so much even as younger artists who go to Santa Fe and stay there, never returning to their tribal roots and people except for rare visits. An Indian artist's life to be proud of is represented in Vic's life and works, because the cause for pride in your own life is not to be found in bank statements, even if some people with much money act quite proud about it.
Vic is available for speaking engagements about Indian art and culure, and for illustration or painting assignments, by direct contact. Some of his paintings -- none of the ones shown here -- are available as low-cost prints from Toh-Atin Gallery, a long-existing, reputable Indian art publisher and gallery in Durango, Colorado, which has no web page. Call for Toh-Atin's catalogs at 800/525-0384.
Vic Runnels, Art Gallery page--10 artworks appear here, including a dyed and painted deerhide in a very traditional-inspired design, a shield with ermine, a mixed-media sculpture, watercolors, an oil pastel, and large acrylics. All are thmbnails that bring up full-screen larger images, except the one centered at the top of Vic's page. This I want to talk about.
"White Hawk's Dream of the White Buffalo Calf Woman" held me paralyzed and shaking for some long time till the computer hung up my modem and let me go. You'll see it: the shell of a buffalo, the two mask-like spirit faces, the hoof prints that turn bloody around a circle, the piles of charred bone, the blowing ash and the blood, splashed everywhere, that blood.
With apologies to those who aren't Lakota (I'm not, but know some of the language and many people), I'm going to call Her Ptesanwin, because it's shorter than Her name in English, White Buffalo Calf Woman. Long ago, two warriors saw Her coming across the plain, bringing the Pipe. One tried to rape Her, but when he touched Her, Her protective power caused his flesh and bones to burn. The wind took the ash, bones were left in a heap of char. "Go home and tell them I am coming with something" She told the other one, Joseph Chasing Horse tells this story at the end of the story of the birth of Miracle,the White Buffalo Calf, in Wisconsin, last August, check it out, use BACK or GO-History to return here.
That's there, in Vic's painting -- the warrior who tried to rape Her and what happened -- but so is Thomas James White Hawk, Check out his story, then return here. Vic's painting calls that -- the bloody tracks, the blowing ash, the 2 mask-like faces, the splashed blood -- White Hawk's vision of Ptesanwin, who brought the Pipe, an altar of peace and prayer. Why? Why? Why would White Hawk's visions of madness and killing and rape that he actually committed be visions involving Ptesanwin? I thought maybe the rapist-warrior connection? but this does not feel right, somehow. As a Pipe Carrier myself, I was totally shook up by this.
Thomas James White Hawk is an enigma -- a threatening mystery -- to himself and everyone who knows about his case. Reasons were given to explain it, that his adoption (as an orphaned Oglala) by a white military man, his middle class upbringing away from his roots tainted him, that he had an old football head injury that suddenly erupted in madness and death. No one really believes any of these things. They were said by lawyers in the death penalty sentence commutation hearings.
Minnesota Anishnabe writer Gerald Vizenor made about the heaviest try anyone could to say it was caused by "disintegration of the Lakota identity in the Christian world." He proved too much. Many Lakota youth have survived similar and worse conditions as White Hawk (who had moved into a pretty good life) without these others going mad, killing and rape. He proved too little. All over the world now men are committing similar atrocities, it isn't Indian, it isn't white. All through history, every culture and society, it happens. Remember that in the story of Ptesanwin, seeing her alone, apparently unprotected, one warrior's only thought was to rape her, but the other one probably had that thought too, and then they would have killed her -- but she was protected by a sacred power.
So in asking "Why?" about White Hawk's killing and rape, we really are asking about the Human Condition, the Suffering of Innocents, and the Problem of Evil. These are the very questions that got me kicked out of Catechism class as a kid, pestering the nuns about them. There are no general answers.
For White Hawk, though, the answer is the same simple one as to why so many of our promising men destroy themselves and usually others, too, with violence: White Hawk was drunk. That's the waschichu poison all right but nobody makes them drink it. So he can't have that frightening vision of Ptesanwin, the bloody hoofprints, blowing ashes, the splashed blood. You don't get visions when you're drunk. It's a hallucination or something. It isn't Her. Yet, Whitehawk in his murderous, raping drunken madness does symbolize so many promising young men we older relatives see destroying themselves that way. With all his talent, all his opportunities, all his friends, everything he had going for him -- Why? Why? is a question many mothers and grandmothers and aunties ask in grief and sorrow, about a son or loved nephew who destroyed himself in the many possible ways that boil down to "He was drunk at the time, they all were." It's the white man's poison, yeah, but there is still the Why? They don't have to drink it. Why do they?
I wouldn't want it in my house, that powerful, painful painting that made me both angry and afraid. I would have to build a small gray windowless room for it, always cold in there, dirty floor, lit by a dangling dirty bulb, go in there to try to feel...to try to understand...No! I will not go in that room. I don't want to feel that, I don't want to learn it, I already understand it enough, no more! But I built that gray room, cell, to imprison that painting in my head already; I won't shut the door on it, I can't.
So let's look at Vic's pretty picture of Her, Ptesanwin.
But what is it for people -- young people, those from other tribal areas -- who don't know any of this? The first time you heard of Ptesanwin (White Buffalo Calf Woman), let's say, was you read about Her here. Same thing for Thomas James White Hawk, which is probably most of you. OK so my question, now, and a pretty good one for that Indian Art Opinions page up topside here is what about that? What do you think about those two paintings by Vic of Ptesanwin -- White Buffalo Calf Woman -- and why? Email it to me! I'll put it on the Art Opinions page. There's an email click-form down near the bottom of this page.
Lorri Ann Two Bulls, Ogala Lakota Artist from Pine Ridge--Lori Ann does computer art; this one is black and white (greyscale). She explains her artistic visions as a young tribal artist from a family of distinguished Indian artists. Edward Two Bulls (is he her dad or uncle?) was a well-known self-taught painter and sculptor from Pine Ridge. He was commissioned around 1974 by the Santee Dakota Tribe to paint 4 large murals in the Center depicting important events which took place since the so-called "Great Sioux uprising of 1862" when the Dakota were expelled and exiled from Minnesota. Lori Ann's computer medium is different from the mural paint-medium. In a way, there are still similar concerns: art theft now, land theft then. Lori Ann was "exhibited" on Internet for several years before this. Some of her work was stolen and printed in a book without even crediting her name as the artist. Because of that, she was pretty reluctant to have this computer portrait placed on South Dakota ArtNet, I heard. Your school probably has a computer lab. If they get PhotoShop and other professional graphics programs, you can learn to do computer artwork, in color as well as black and white, like Lori Ann's computer painting here. Be sure to sign your name to every one of your art files, artists usually date it too, just the year.
Computer Art of Lief Hey-Running (Lakota)--Lief made this recently when he was just 10 years old, and fooling around with more powerful computer art programs than KidPix for the first time. It's an abstraction, he's just experimenting. Notice the kind of neon 3D effect he gets there. (Find out if Lief is Leonard Running's son?) Lief didn't sign this computer artwork, which is no big deal since it was just his first experiment. But at the same time, it could turn up in somebody's book about "minority multicural computer education" or something, and they wouldn't bother to say who the young artist educating himself was. Sign your work, Lief! Make a computer signature for yourself.
Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe's Art Gallery--The Gallery has 2 exhibit screens of half a dozen paintings each. The artists are identified only as "we are artists of all ages" of the Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe. This gallery on the tribal server was created during the summer (by Darren Renville who is webmaster for the tribal server pages). No doubt in the fall when school resumes and the powwow season ends, these artists will all be IDed. Meanwhile, on the Exhibit 1 page, the bold horse painting, middle top row, is by Ella Roberts. Her horse was used by Darren to make the horse background of all the tribe's pages. In PhotoShop he removed the rider and all background, turning the horse into an outline, then shrunk it and flipped it horizontally so on the page it's running in the direction of your eye as you read page text. Then he used Emboss on it to give the 3D effect, on the grey background same color as a bare NetScape screen. I got the idea from this to try Emboss for 3D on my plain handspiral for the background of these art pages. Came out pretty good (I didn't like it in NetScape grey), but I think the running horse looks better.
Joanne Bird, Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota artist--Biographical information explains how Joanne changed her artistic style to the dymanic forms she paints today. The page is illustrated by thumbnails leading to full-screen images of prints for sale. Contact and purchase information is provided. Joanne will have an important show at the prestigious Heard Museum in January, 1996.
Paul War Cloud--who died in 1973 was a self-taught Sisseton-Wahpeton artist, who was curator and a major contributor of art to the Fine Arts center, when it was converted from the old Catholic school. Article about his life and art is illustrated with old black and white photos. Perhaps later some color photos of his paintings?
The Shako:Wi Project--Oneida (New York) Tribe's Cultural Arts Center, with a description of its programs. For those who oppose casinos: This, too, and many other benefits for all, is possible as a result of tribal casino profits, wisely planned for and invested to benefit all. And if you don't have any, you're not going to have much cultural arts programming that will survive the new federal budgets, that zeroes out all or nearly all such funding.
The Shako:Wi Project: Exhibit 1 prepared in1994--Oneida artist Ray Helm made the leading exhibit here, a Kostoweh or deer horns and fur headress, worn by the 6 Nations traditional council chiefs. Dehorning a chief (removal from power by the Clan Mothers), which has happened not that long ago (I think it was a Mohawk Longhouse Council Chief), is explained. Also here is a modified traditional dress by Sherri Begler, that shows how the Oneida people adapted clothing to changing conditions where trade cloth was substituted for deerhide. Outstanding art is the Pine Tree Eagle, which symbolizes spiritual vigilance over 6 Nations affairs. It's carved from deer antlers by an Oneida artist they didn't ID. Be sure to look by clicking at each detail -- one shows the Eagle, delicately balanced, another the fine carving on the Pine tree. You can't really see this work in the overall picture, so it's good they include the details. This one I wish not only I that could really see it, but also that I could touch it. I wish they IDed him, too (ask Dan).
Oneida Cultural/Art Ex. 2, March, 1995--Marie Shenandoah's "3 Clan Pot" is worthy of special attention. Its traditional function is briefly described here, but there are longer stories about the traditional meaning and use of pots of this design, I wish they would add those! This exhibit also includes a traditional museum-quality cornhusk doll, made about 40 years ago, from a tribal member's collection. Then, there are 2 more recent cornhusk dolls that were a child's toys. She drew a face on one she loved best, though traditionally they aren't supposed to have faces (so the child can imagine any face there, the doll can be any woman or any man, and can be expressing different feelings in the child's imagination). The dolls were always toys and gifts for children, but there was a sacred meaning to it, too. Not like buying a Barbie from Target. So...I wonder...would most little girls today rather have a Barbie? What is your opinion? Maybe you should check out your opinion by learning & making a cornhusk doll for a small relative.
Great Seal of Oneida Indian Nation (NY)--The Oneida Nation's seal, a full-screen version of which you'll see here--is itself a work of art. Like all seals, it is symbolic, but it is also designed with clarity and beauty quite rare in any official seals. (Ask Dan the designer's name, is it the same guy who makes similar tree as silver pendant?). The artist centers his design with the Pine Tree that historically represents an actual pine under which the council of this first federation of nations met. The Six Nations and the Peacemaker were the first (over 1,000 years ago) and perhaps still the only to find a solution to war and conquest, in which both European and Oriental nations and those of the long stretch of western history conquered and assimilated or incorporated other countries into themselves, their empires. The League of the Great Pine Tree was a federation for international peaceful government and local self-government both. At the top of the tree an Eagle watches to see that the laws and the peace are kept. A wampum belt recorded agreements among nations -- it was not money, or some sort of trade goods, as the Europeans assumed wampum meant to these peoples, when they first encountered them, and saw the respect in which these beautiful records were held as meaning money-like value. The three surviving clans -- Turtle, Wolf and Bear -- are shown in the tree, which sustains all the people. The 4 White Roots of Peace are the 4 directions of the federation's extensions of peace and justice and orderly daily life to other nations. Sometimes a hatchet or war-club is shown under them, for at the founding of the League, the 5 original nations (Tuscarora refugees from whites joined in the 18th century) dug a hole and buried those weapons as a sign they would not use them against each other any more. This is the actual origin of the English proverb "bury the hatchet" meaning to settle a quarrel, or make peace among former enemies. The big seal will lead you to a more elaborate multimedia work of art: Oneida nation's self-portrayal in many web pages.
Should I officially end the 2 halves here and the rest be mostly just links? Right now I think that's all I got for U.S., other than textiles, pottery, baskets, etc. for their own pages, but there will be more.
Interactive Art lessons, asking multiple-choice questions about 2 of 6 (it's not finished) native art objects. The idea is that from the answers (discussion) after you SUBMIT the questions, you will learn something about it, even if you have to guess the questions. An IAIA Museum project, co-sponsored by the Indian Net access project, Electronic Pathways, and running on a powerful Los Alamos National Laboratories server, with help in constructing the interactive demo art lessons from a scientist there named "griz" (like the bear). I think he got discouraged because nobody used it and stopped. So why not try it, and send him email (his email is on his pages) that you liked it and wish he would finish and do some more, too. I wrote & said I would do some "forms for the front end" if he would link it to his programs, which I can't do. I also wrote tribal and "correct name" IDs for several of the artists I know, and my opinion that his multiple-choice answer about "ghost dance" is wrong (in my opinion)! No answer is right of the 3 choices. The purpose was to "roll back" the invasion, restore the land, remove "all the white man's ugly things" and perhaps bring back the dead (not ghosts).
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Last Updated: Tuesday, December 19, 1995 - 5:00:11 AM