Today’s Native American artists blur the lines between the traditional and contemporary worlds
Excerpt published online courtesy Western Art Collector, August 2009
Doug Hyde, Intertribal Greeting, Bronze Edition of 35, 17" x 30" x 6.5"
Many contemporary Native American artists are finding themselves caught between two worlds – the one of the traditional art-making past that they’ve been born into and the one of the contemporary art world that informs their present. With many artists today, the result of these two distinctive and highly unique worlds is art work that pays homage to the past while also looking forward and embracing the here and now.
The Medicine Man Gallery in Santa Fe and Tucson represents artists like Shonto Begay (Navajo), Oreland Joe (Southern Ute, Navajo), and Doug Hyde (Nez Perce, Chippewa, Assiniboine). The artists will all have new work available at the Santa Fe gallery during Indian Market. Joe and Hyde are sculptors while Begay works in oils.
Shonto Begay, Blessed, Acrylic on Canvas, 24" x 20"
“Shonto Begay’s social commentary paintings of everyday Navajo life continue to spark tremendous interest in both seasoned and novice collectors,” says Dr. Mark Sublette, owner of Medicine Man Gallery. “Every painting tells a story, a symphony of traditional values intertwined with modern life events as seen through Navajo eyes.”
Joe and Hyde work, respectively, in stone and bronze, and create work that honors their past and the traditions associated with it.
Oreland Joe, CA, Desert Wind, Portuguese Marble, 30.25" x 18" x 14.5"
“Oreland Joes’ command of stone is unparalleled,” says Sublette. “A Navajo girl’s intent look, a grandfather drumming or a beautiful maiden’s hair blowing in the wind exemplify Joe’s attention to the minute detail which brings beauty to that moment. Hyde’s work in bronze takes subject matter and form and integrates both with traditional and modern collectors alike. It speaks volumes to see our collectors continue to acquire pieces from these Native American artists in the current economic climate.”
“In addition to many outstanding historic American Indian art objects, several contemporary works will be offered in Cowan’s upcoming American Indian and Western Art Auction on September 11, 2009,” says Danica Farnard, director of American Indian Art at Cowan’s Auction. “Included is a Utah alabaster sculpture carved by contemporary and award-winning Navajo artist Alvin Marshall titled Sunset Prayer. For Western art lovers, a wonderful ink and wash painting titled Making a Smoke by Clayton Sumner Price, illustrator for Pacific Monthly magazine, will also be offered. American artist Bill Schenck’s dynamic acrylic on canvas Bull Rider in Chute will also be auctioned. These Western paintings, coupled with both the contemporary and historic American Indian art, evoke and recall the emotion of the Old West.”