I had a busy weekend. Had a gig. Sat in on another
gig. And went to the National Museum of the American
Indian. It was amazing. Nice space. I’ll have to go
back to check out the fourth floor. The exhibit spaces are a
little smaller and intricate with a flow to them but there were too
many people to really get a sense of it. And I like the
futuristic interactive kiosks where you can zoom in on and rotate
images of the artifacts displayed in front of you.
But I really was into the artists exhibit on the third floor.
Very accessible but profound. Literal, classical, impressionistic
(in layman’s sense), modern, abstract. Those two guys covered the
gamut. Is that how you spell “gamut”? I think it is.
I went with an old college comrade and he made the observation that
racial/cultural minority artists have something about their art that
sets them apart compared to some of the historically famous artists that
we admire and venerate.
When I look at these exhibits I see a strong sense of identity.
Ethnic/cultural/racial expressions that say “this is who we are”.
And the “we” is “our people” or “my people”. That
multi-entendre’d aspect intrigues me. I relate to that whereas
some of the European classics are very analytical or a little cold in a
way. It’s not a matter of better or worse but it’s a different
kind of impact and, for me, a different avenue of appreciation.
I wanted to buy some posters or, better yet, prints from the gift shop,
but they were like $250 to $300. Ouch. They were originals
or reproductions and not prints but c’mon. 8.5″ x 11″ =
$250? Good gravy.
Native Modernism: The Art of George Morrison and Allan Houser
Opening September 21, 2004
NMAI on the National Mall, Washington, DC
Modernism explores the work of George Morrison and Allan Houser, the
most prominent U.S. artists of a formative generation in Native
American art. Working from the mid-1930s to the late 1990s, each
rebelled against ideas of what Native art must look like to evolve a
personal and original style.
George Morrison was a painter of color and light.As he traveled
from his birthplace in Minnesota to New York and beyond, his evolving
interest in Euro-American art resulted in an individualistic and
vibrantly colorful form of abstract expressionism.
Allan Houser is best known as a sculptor, and his sphere of success
and influence was in the Southwest. Blending Native subject matter with
a sleek modernist aesthetic, his elegant and refined art represents
Native peoples in stone and metal with dignity and compassion.
Together, these men profoundly influenced later generations of Native artists.