John Coleman, CA Western Art Collector October 2009

Legacy of Excellence

Excerpt published courtesy of Western Art Collector, October 2009

John Coleman, Wakktagelo, Big Soldier, Bronze, 34 tall

John Coleman, CA, Wakktagelo, Big Soldier, Bronze, 34" tall

Arizona sculptor and CAA president John Coleman, who is fresh off the heels of being honored with two sculpture awards at the annual Prix de West show, is currently working on two new pieces and will have works from his Explorer Artists, Bodmer/Catlin series at the show in addition to others. One of the pieces, titled Wahktageli, Big Soldier, measures in at 34 inches. Coleman says that in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, historians/painters George Catlin (1796-1872) and Karl Bodmer (1809-1893) set out to capture the images of the people of a new land.

"Today, these highly detailed portraits are some of the only records an artist like me has to draw on for historical accuracy from this pre-photo era," explains Coleman.

Wahktageli, also known as Big Soldier, was a Yankton (Nakota) Sioux chief who was over 6 feet tall. Coleman explains that in 1833 Big Soldier was approximately 60 years old when Bodmer documented his clothing and headdress in a painting.

"I was inspired by this painting because of the early headdress Big Soldier was wearing. Made from the long feathers of birds of prey, they were tied to his hair and presented an image very different from the more contemporary fashion that was popular after the 1870s," says Coleman. "It is not my intention to add or take away from these works, but to use these portraits and extensive historic research to capture sculpturally the essence of who these men really were; to interpret in my sculptural style a three-dimensional portrait that will be a respectful complement to the original paintings."