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Eiteljorg Museum Receives over 80 works by Artist Harry Fonseca

by User Not Found | Oct 17, 2014







For Immediate Release                                

For more information:
DeShong Perry-Smitherman
Public Relations Manager

[NOTE: To request additional images, contact DeShong Perry-Smitherman.]

Eiteljorg Museum Receives over 80 works by  Artist Harry Fonseca
This collection is accompanied by volumes of photographs, cards and letters documenting Fonseca's legacy
and relationship with donor Harry Nunguesser.

(Indianapolis, Indiana) –Harry Fonseca (Maidu/Nisenan, Portuguese, Hawaiian), was an impassioned and beloved Native American contemporary artist that changed perceptions about Native American art and people. Beginning his career in the 70s, Fonseca emerged as a formidable and affable artist with a series featuring fun-loving Coyote and his equally engendering spirit, Rose. When Fonseca died in 2006, after a struggle with cancer, it was a devastating loss to the Native art community. Now, some eight years after his death, through a meticulously-preserved donation from his loving partner, Harry Nunguesser, Fonseca’s legacy will live on at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

Besides paintings that were all part of Fonseca’s grand artistic vision, like The Discovery of Gold in California, Stone Poems, St. Francis and Stripes and Seasons, the collection will also feature notes, cards and pictures written between Fonseca and Nunguesser over the years of their relationship.

“Due to this generous gift, the Eiteljorg now has the great privilege to care for and exhibit the unparalleled works of Harry Fonseca,” said John Vanausdall, Eiteljorg president and CEO. “This unique collection will be a visual representation of Fonseca’s impact and legacy.”

The Fonseca collection is also a reflection of the  touching love affair between the “two Harrys” and Harry Nunguesser’s  admiration for the artist who was his longtime partner. A year before his death, Fonseca was named an Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellow. In his statement, he wrote:

“My work expresses the time and space in which we live and reflects the myths and ways of painting found throughout the world…My vision, however, is not exclusively cultural. In a passionate confrontation with myth and history, images unfold and hint at the creative process itself.  Time recedes, as ancient symbols are brought alive in the moments of our lives.  Mythology, transformed into a sense of myth, reveals its presence, its drama, and its magic.”

 “[The exhibition]  also embodies Nunguesser’s ‘responsibility’ in preserving the important legacy that is Harry Fonseca’s contribution to Native American contemporary art and painting,” said Jennifer Complo McNutt, Eiteljorg curator of contemporary art.

“I knew Harry [Fonseca] personally and, throughout his lifetime, he relentlessly pursued artistic excellence, intellectual curiosity and aesthetic and emotional appreciation of the vast possibility of art within the context of a Native painter influenced by cultures, social mores, color and sound."

“His journey," shared Harry Nunguesser is forever in the care of the Eiteljorg for the discovery and appreciation of generations to come.”

Harry Fonseca (Maidu/Nisenan, Portuguese, Hawaiian,1946 – 2006)
St. Francis of Assisi, 1999
Mixed media on canvas
65 x 35”
Museum purchase with funds from Harry S. Nungesser in loving memory of his partner Harry Fonseca

Attached image: Harry Fonseca (Maidu/Nisenan, Portuguese, Hawaiian,1946 – 2006), Angel Coyote #2, 1988, Acrylic on paper, 30 x 22 ½”, Gift of Harry Nungesser in loving memory of his partner Harry Fonseca

About the Eiteljorg
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western art seeks to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the art, history and cultures of the American West and the indigenous peoples of North America. This year, the Eiteljorg celebrates 25 years of telling amazing stories. The museum’s 25thanniversary is presented by Oxford Financial Group. LTD. The Eiteljorg is located in Downtown Indianapolis’ White River State Park, at 500 West Washington, Indianapolis, IN  46204. For general information about the museum and to learn more about exhibits and events, call 317.636.WEST (9378) or visit

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