Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Eiteljorg Insider | 5 Questions with Contemporary Curator Jennifer Complo McNutt

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg festivals and markets manager | Oct 14, 2013

    We caught up with the Eiteljorg’s curator of contemporary art after a hectic week of working with photographers for images for the upcoming Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship publication. Jennifer believes the Eiteljorg has the greatest collection of Native American fine art in the world. She should know. She’s been with the museum since 1991 – just two years after we opened – and has been instrumental in building the collection.

    Contemporary curator Jennifer Complo McNutt

    Favorite piece of art in the Eiteljorg collection: One favorite is Dry Ditch by Kenneth Miller Adams. Jennifer is a painter at heart. Kenneth Miller Adams, The Dry Ditch, 1964The strong slightly exaggerated triangular composition is a sight for sore eyes; the dry methodic application of paint mirrors the oppressive unrelenting heat; the figures expressions and gestures pulling them down; and the wiggling upturned posture of the child is hope, perseverance, why we don't give up, what we give for the future.

     1. What inspires you?
    A world without blogs. Living with dogs. Helping ideas become real. Making art accessible to everyone, no matter how complicated it is.

     2. If you could steal any piece of art in the world to have in your home, what would it be?
    If I am going to steal anything it wouldn’t be art. . .steal a glance, steal a moment, steal away. . .

     3. If you weren’t a museum curator, what would you do?
    Whatever I had to. . .

     4. Do you collect anything?
    Yes. Denzel Washington. My collection is currently incomplete.

     5. If you could spend the afternoon with anyone – living or dead – who would it be?
    I try not to spend time with dead people. If I choose a dead person to hang out with it would be my father. A living person: Bill Clinton, hands down. What do they both have in common? They were/are smart and funny. Forget smart without funny . . . that’s not smart.

    Pictured above:
    Kenneth Adams (American, 1897-1966)
    The Dry Ditch, 1964
    Oil on canvas
    Gift Courtesy of Harrison Eiteljorg

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  • Meet the Fellows | Julie Buffalohead (Part I of V)

    by Jennifer Complo McNutt, Eiteljorg contemporary art curator | Oct 09, 2013

    Each week the Eiteljorg blog will feature a profile of artists who will be featured in RED: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. The exhibit opens Nov. 9. Details below!

    Julie Buffalohead (Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma)

              My recent series reflects a journey of a more personal nature. The narrative tension my work creates emanates from the Native oral tradition of storytelling, while I blend in my own distinct strands of make-believe. –Julie Buffalohead

    Julie Buffalohead dreams a world. It is a world where oppressive societal mores are reenacted, challenged, and overcome by the meek. Small animals, rabbits and raccoons, birds and bears, and even Coyote the trickster have moments of tenderness, despair, and triumph as they meander through the ambiguous spaces of Buffalohead’s paintings.  

     Fearsome Critter, 2012. Mixed media on paper. Image courtesy the Bockley Gallery.

    Heart Sick, 2012. Mixed media on paper. Image courtesy the Bockley Gallery.    

    The Medusa Syndrome, 2010. Mixed media on paper. Image courtesy the Bockley Gallery.

         The fine, facile drawings are accentuated with the modeled and measured application of paint. It is an application that creates a quiet understanding of each element it describes, be it architectural or animal. Buffalohead creates a theater in the settings of her paintings: the woods, the bathroom, and the front yard, in a sandbox or a wading pool. The understated settings are the stage for monsters of domesticity, myths of motherhood, a fairytale history of America, personal experiences, and homage to Ponca culture. All are expressed through Buffalohead’s private visual language, a language so intriguing that it transports the viewer to another worldview: hers.

         Born in 1972, Buffalohead is an enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma. She received her bachelor of fine arts degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1995 and a master of fine arts degree from Cornell University in 2001. She currently resides in Minneapolis and has received many prestigious awards, including the McKnight Foundation Fellowship for Visual Arts and a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant. A prolific artist, Buffalohead pursues in her current work a tireless personal and sociopolitical investigation based on being a woman, mother, Native, and conscientious observer. 

    –Excerpt from Julie Buffalohead: Fighter of the Good Fight
    by Jennifer Complo McNutt 
    (from RED: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship exhibition catalog).

    Schedule for opening weekend of RED:Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship
    NOV 8
    5:30–7:30 p.m.
    $40 – includes Saturday’s activities
    To commemorate the opening of RED: the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, the museum will honor the five Native Fellowship winners with an intimate gathering that celebrates their artistic accomplishments.  
    7:30 p.m.–12 a.m.

    Contemporary Arts Party
    $15 at the door, $10 in advance – includes Saturday’s activities
    Celebrate the opening of RED by partying all night to the sounds of A Tribe Called Red and DJ Kyle Long of the Cultural Cannibals.  Additional entertainment will be provided by the comedy improve group the 1491s, Big Car, Know No Stranger, and more!
    Tickets are available for purchase at

    NOV 9
    All Day
    RED: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship
    Be among the first to experience RED.
    Opening Day a
    ctivities include a gallery tour with the Fellows from 10 a.m.-12 p.m and from 1–3 p.m. a presentation by comedic cultural critics, the 1491s. Saturday's event is in collaboration with the 2013 Spirit  & Place Festival. This festival reaches 20,000 people each year through dozens of “never before seen” programs that promote growth of the human spirit.

    Julie is one of five 2013 Fellows and her artwork will be featured in the exhibition RED: The Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, opening Nov. 9. This biennial program recognizes the accomplishments of one invited and four juried Fellows, which are chosen by a panel of independent experts. As part of the Fellowship, each artist receives a $25,000 unrestricted cash award and their work is exhibited and further explored in an accompanying catalog. In addition, the museum purchases a total of over $100,000 worth of art from the Fellows for the permanent collection, adding to a body of work that has given the Eiteljorg Museum a collection of Native contemporary art that has been referred to as the “greatest in the world.”


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  • “The next rug… Please!”

    by Robert Tate, Eiteljorg director of merchandising | Oct 07, 2013

    “The next rug… Please!”

    That was the phrase heard over 200 times on Saturday, Oct. 5 during the Eiteljorg’s live Navajo Rug Auction. 

    Potential bidders arrived early to preview the rugs and learn stories behind some of the weavers who created them. As an added bonus, fourth generation rug trader, Shari Burnham, shared Navajo rug knowledge with our guests. Also, attendees got to see and feel the rugs as they were readied for auction.

    Before the auction began several people brought rugs to be reviewed for possible consignment. One spectacular Etta Peacock rug, presented from an Indiana couple, was selected for the day’s auction.  The original price was $12,000.  But the couple was OK with parting with it for a reserve price of $5,000.  

    With only five rugs left the beautiful Etta Peacock was brought to the floor.  The rug’s story was told and the bid calling began at $5,000. Immediately, several paddles started flying up into the air of the Eiteljorg’s Clowes Court. And, this race that could only have one winner was on!  The auctioneer passed $7,000, then $8,000, then $9,000 – and the attendees were still waving their hands. But by the time he hit $10,000, the lone passionate bidder – Number 25 in fifth row – was the only one holding up her right hand. Number 25 had won the war!

    In the end, three people were made very happy after that bid: the couple that sold it and the smiling, satisfied buyer!

    In all, 50 registered bidders bought 72 rugs for a total of $61,000. Proceeds from the auction go to R.B. Burnham, the rug weavers and the Eiteljorg.

    Robert Tate
    Eiteljorg director of merchandising
    (pictured left)

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  • Eiteljorg Insider | 5 Questions with Navajo Rug Auctioneer Sherri Burnham

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg Festivals and Markets Manager | Oct 04, 2013

    As the general manager of her family business, RB Burnham & Co Trading, Sherri manages the daily operations in the Sanders, AZ trading post as well as all of the 15-17 auctions they produce and conduct, including the Navajo Rug Auction at the Eiteljorg on Oct. 5. She is the fifth generation in her family to work in the business of trading among the Navajo people, and has been doing it for over 17 years. As a Navajo, it is important to Sherri to do what she can to help maintain and preserve cultural traditions.

    If you could invite any artist to dinner, who would it be and why?

    I would love to spend an evening with the late artist RC Gorman. Not only is his art iconic in the southwest, he was also quite a charismatic character. I've heard many stories about him and would loved to have shared a meal with him and his entourage just to learn more about what inspired him.

    How do you spend most of your time?
    While not at work or on the road chasing auctions, I spend most of my time gardening and in the kitchen.

    What book are you reading right now?
    I just finished The Painted Drum, by Louise Erdrich. I am currently trying to read all of her works and am about half way through the list.

    If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab?
    I think I would take as many photo albums as I could, granted that my family was safely out as well. My family home burned down when I was a child and somehow my parents saved our family albums and that seemed most important then and now.

    What sound do you love?
    I love being in the forest listening to birds chirp and the wind rustle the tree branches.

    Browse and bid on more than 200 vintage and contemporary weavings during this year’s auction, presented by R.B. Burnham & Co. Prices ranges from $100 to $10,000.

    IF YOU GO:
    Members only preview 
    8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
    Opens to the public      
    9:30 a.m. 
    Auction begins                        
    11:30 a.m.

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  • Buckaroo Bash, Navajo Rug Auction and Botanical Architecture Workshop | October at the Eiteljorg

    by User Not Found | Oct 02, 2013

    Here's a look at what we're doing this month at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

    Quest for the West® Art Show and Sale
    Through Oct. 6
    See paintings, drawings and sculptures from 50 of the world’s most celebrated Western artists. Many of the pieces on exhibit are still for sale at the Eiteljorg. A portion of Quest proceeds helps the Eiteljorg build its world-class collection. 

    Craig Tennant, Staying Close, 2013
    Oil on linen, 14X20 inches
    Still for sale during Quest for the West

    OCT. 5, 12, 19, 26
    1 p.m.
    Meet Teresa Webb (Anishinaabe) and hear about Native American cultures through stories and songs, accompanied by flute, drum and rattle.

    Navajo Rug Auction
    OCT. 5
    Members only preview 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
    Public viewing 9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.
    Auction - 11:30 a.m.

    Browse and bid on more than 200 vintage and contemporary weavings during this year’s auction, presented by R.B. Burnham & Co. Prices ranges from $100 to $10,000.

    Inuit Art Trunk Show
    OCT. 12 and 13

    Members shop 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.
    General public shops 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Get your questions answered about Inuit art by the owners of Iqaluit Fine Arts Studio. Located in the capital of Nunavut Territory in Canada, this gallery has a wide selection of Inuit paintings, tapestries, sculptures and jewelry. For one day only, the owners of this incredible gallery will sell their artwork at the Eiteljorg. Prices range from $50 to $20,000.

    Botanical Architecture Workshop
    OCT. 12

    9 a.m. – Noon
    Price: $15 for non-members and $10 for members – includes discounted admission to the museum
     Bring your imagination to this Eiteljorg workshop and create your very own replica building to take home. Bits of natural materials, such as pods, tendrils, twigs, nuts, and moss will be used. Fee includes materials and instruction; pre-register and pre-pay by calling (317) 275-1310 by Oct. 4. Workshop is designed for adults but suitable for ages 12 and older. Participants will be using a hot glue gun and cutting tools.

    Artist in Residence: Norris Chee (Dineh)
    OCT. 19 & 26
    1 p.m. – 4 p.m.  
    Meet award-winning painter Norris Chee (Dineh) and watch as he demonstrates his art-making techniques.

    Buckaroo Bash: Carats, Corsets & Cowboys
    OCT. 25
    Start preparing your finest jewels and corseted saloon wear for a night of daring elegance! The museum’s annual fundraising event for Eiteljorg education programming returns to the museum for its 16th year. Attendees will be entertained by the Endless Summer Band, and enjoy innovative and delicious food from Harrison College’s Chef’s Academy pastry students and Kahn’s Catering. Plus, attendees will get to participate in both live and silent auctions, a wine pull and the chance to purchase raffle tickets for a piece of fine jewelry from G. Thrapp Jewelers. Tickets can be purchased online

    Day of the Dead
    OCT. 26
    11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
    The Mexican holiday of Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) is a time to remember and honor deceased loved ones. Experience Día de Muertos at the Eiteljorg. See traditional papel picado, the cut paper decorations hung for Hispanic celebrations and get ideas for your own memorial by seeing the elements on the museum’s community ofrenda (offering place). Watch performances by Anderson Ballet Folklorico and Comparsa Tlahuicas. Meet artists in residence, Beatriz Schlebecker and Richard Gabriel Jr., and create your own papel picado and tin ornament to take home.

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