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  • INDIAN ENCAMPMENT at SUNSET a painting by Albert Bierstadt | The Rest of the Story

    by James H. Nottage, Eiteljorg vice president and chief curatorial officer | Sep 29, 2014

      

               Albert Bierstadt, Indian Encampment at Sunset, oil on canvas, ca. 1875, gift courtesy of Harrison Eiteljorg. 

                It is a small painting, just 14 inches by 20 inches wide. It rests in a gilded gold frame, possibly the original from the time of the painting’s creation. In the painting, orange-cast clouds reflect the rapidly receding yellow sunlight on the distant horizon while in the foreground trees and Indian teepees are embraced by growing night-time darkness. By the early 1870s, artist Albert Bierstadt was well-known for the moods conveyed in his Western landscape paintings.  He created grand canvases from his travels to Yosemite and other recognizable areas of the great West, but they were not precise documents. They were inspirational and often took liberties with scenes the artist viewed in person. Trees, rock formations, and bodies of water were subject to his rearrangement for the sake of aesthetics.

                 Certainly it was the beauty of Indian Encampment at Sunset, along with the importance of the artist, that drew Harrison Eiteljorg to collect this work in the late 1970s. The inside story is that the hundred year history of the painting was fairly well documented at that time although there was a critical error in the record. Eiteljorg obtained the painting from a gallery in Maryland. According to the gallery, a woman named Marian Townsley sold the painting in 1976, but had inherited it from her mother, Mrs. M. Howland Townsley in 1925. In turn she acquired it from her mother, Florence Little King Howland in 1910. She acquired it, as the story goes, from her “first husband” after his death in 1901. The man who died in 1901 was actually her son, the famed American explorer and geologist, Clarence King. 

       

                Clarence King was the first director of the U. S. Geological Survey and among his many accomplishments was best known for exploring the Sierra Nevadas. For six years beginning in 1867 he led expeditions to survey the 40th U. S. Parallel. He also exposed a famous hoax that claimed the discovery of diamonds in Colorado, and published notable geology texts. At first, King did not trust the paintings of Albert Bierstadt, because of how the artist depicted geological features.  By 1872, however, the two were exploring the Sierras together and King reported in August that Bierstadt would “give me liberty to copy any or all of his studies” for his report. Bierstadt’s field work that summer also became the basis of a number of important large paintings. 

       

                It is possible that the Bierstadt sunset painting was acquired by Clarence King at this time. That the artist was inspired by scenes viewed alongside King is clear from his paintings. King was equally inspired, writing that “I found it extremest pleasure to lie there alone on the dizzy brink, . . . watching that slow grand growth of afternoon shadows. Sunset found me there, still disinclined to stir, and repaid my laziness by a glorious spectacle of color. At this hour there is no more splendid contrast of light and shade.” (Clarence King, Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, Boston, 1872).

              Oh, and the deeper part of the story? It seems that the great explorer, Clarence King, led a double life for the last 13 years of his life. He posed as an African American railway porter named James Todd - having a common-law wife with whom he had five children. Read about the fascinating story of King and his family in Martha A. Sandweiss's masterful book, Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line. New York: Penguin Press, 2009. Oh, and take a look at Indian Encampment at Sunset in the Eiteljorg's Gund Gallery of Western Art.

                  

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  • Eiteljorg Museum awards more than $23,000 to Native American artists

    by DeShong Perry-Smitherman, Eiteljorg public relations manager | Jun 26, 2014

    Judges evaluated more than 200 entries featuring the best work
    of Native artists from across North America.

    INDIANAPOLIS— Upstate New York natives, Ronnie Leigh (Onondaga) and Stonehorse Goeman (Seneca), who specialize in combining traditional Iroquois methods of basket making with sculpture, took the coveted Best of Show honor at the 22nd annual Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival where more than 130 Native American artists, from across the country, were honored for their artwork. Some of the highest honors went to artists from Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, New York, Wisconsin and Vancouver, BC.

    Nationally-known judges, Anita Fields (Osage), Yatika Fields (Cherokee/Creek/Osage), Jamie Okuma (Luiseño/Shoshone-Bannock), Linley B. Logan (Seneca, Deer Clan) and Duane Maktima (Laguna Pueblo/Hopi) awarded more than $23,000  in cash and ribbons within 10 divisions, including Best of Show, Best of Division and special awards: the Helen Kersting Award, which is given to an artist whose work exemplifies the highest quality of execution and innovation within a traditional medium, and the Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award (awarded to two artists this year), which acquires work for the museum’s permanent collection.


    Best of Show
    He Takes His Place by Ronnie Leigh Goeman (Onondaga) and Stonehorse Goeman (Seneca)
    Nedrow, NY
    Click here to listen to Ronnie Leigh’s reaction shortly after learning she’d won.
     
    Helen Kersting Award
    Circular Feather Set by Brian Szabo (Sicangu Lakota-Rosebud Sioux Tribe)
    Fort Atkinson, WI

    Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award
    Doyunis (The Water Spider) wampum necklace by Antonio Grant (Eastern Band Cherokee)
    Tahelquah, OK

    Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award
    Blue Herons Basket by Ronnie Leigh Goeman (Onondaga) and Stonehorse Goeman (Seneca)
    Nedrow, NY

    The 2014 Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market and Festival Best of Division winners:

    Painting, drawings, photography and prints
    On to Market by Jodi M. Webster (Ho-Chunk Nation/Prairie Band Potawatomi)
    Lawrence, KS

    Sculpture
    Rainbow Maidens by Ryan Gashweseoma (Hopi)
    Kingman, AZ

    Carvings and dolls
    Sunface Katsina by Gerry Quotskuyva (Hopi)
    Rimrock, AZ

    Jewelry
    Circular Feather Set by Brian Szabo (Sicangu Lakota-Rosebud Sioux Tribe))
    Fort Atkinson, WI

    Pottery
    Nature by Delmar Polacca (Hopi/Tewa)
    Tuba City, AZ

    Basketry
    He Takes His Place by Ronnie Leigh Goeman (Onondaga) and Stonehorse Goeman (Seneca )
    Nedrow, NY

    Weavings and textiles
    Blue Canyon by Florence Manygoats (Navajo (Dine))

    Tonahea, AZ

    Cultural items
    Warrior’s Ceremonial Cup by Antonio Grant (Eastern Band Cherokee)
    Tahelquah, OK

    Beadwork
    Calm Waters Run Deep by Sho Sho Esquiro (KaskaKene)
    Ross River, Yukon Territory, Vancouver, British Columbia

    Collaborative
    Did You Just Say Ribbit? By Ronnie Leigh Goeman (Onondaga) and Stonehorse Goeman (Seneca)
    Nedrow, NY

    This year, more than 6,100 people enjoyed  the two-day festival, which is the largest juried sale and show of Native American art in the Midwest. Entertainment for the market included Grammy award winning singer Joanne Shenandoah (Iroquois), world champion hoop dancer Tony Duncan with Estun-bah (Apache/Hidatsa/Arikara/Mandan) and Native rock duo Scatter Their Own (Oglala Lakota), who had just performed a gig during South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival has become a mainstay in the Indianapolis arts community, allowing the public to enjoy not only celebrated artwork, but a full cultural experience of authentic Native American foods, performances, art demonstrations and family activities.

    To be eligible to participate in the Indian Market and Festival, all entries must be handmade within the last two years by the artist entering the piece. They must also be available for purchase during the Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market and Festival, and must not include any part of a species of protected animal. To ensure the authenticity of the artwork and to protect the artists, all artists must provide documentation confirming that they are members of a state- or federally-recognized tribe.

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  • Eiteljorg Fellow Wendy Red Star's Exhibit Opens Friday, June 6 at iMOCA

    by Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art | Jun 05, 2014


    Yakima Nation Youth Activities, Wendy Red Star, Archival Inkjet Print, 2014

    The Eiteljorg Museum has the privilege of partnering with Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (iMOCA) to present the art of Wendy Red Star (Crow) in the exhibit Circling The Camp: Wendy Red Star. Red Star is a 2009 Eiteljorg Fellow and prolific artist. Thank you to Shauta Marsh, director, iMOCA for sharing her thoughts about contemporary art and Red Star's work in this interview with Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Curator Jennifer Complo McNutt. 

    More on Wendy Red Star from iMOCA's newsletter:
    Over the course of her practice, Wendy Red Star has worked within and between the mediums of photography, sculpture, installation, performance and design. Featured in Huffington Post and other publications, the 2009 Eiteljorg Fellow will open her solo exhibition with iMOCA June 6, from 6-11 p.m.  The exhibit will run through July 19th with the hours of Thursday- Saturday, 12 am-7 p.m.  

    Artist talk between Red Star and Eiteljorg Museum's Curator of Contemporary Art, Jennifer McNutt, is June 7 at 1 p.m.

    Red Star's work layers influences drawn from her tribal background (Crow), daily surroundings, collected ephemera and conjured histories that are both real and imagined. Through her photographs and sculpture new universes are built, simultaneously urban-rural and high-low with their own language of symbols created from such seemingly disparate sites as rez cars, powwow culture, indigenous commoditization, and Red Star's personal collection of memories growing up as a half-breed on the Crow Indian reservation.

    Wendy Red Star is an artist living and working in Portland, Oregon. Red Star received her B.F.A. from Montana State University-Bozeman and her M.F.A from UCLA in 2006. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally. Her exhibitions include shows at the Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Hallie Ford Museum, The Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship 2009, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Domaine de Kerguéhennec, Laura Bartlett Gallery London, The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Missoula Art Museum, St. Louis Art Museum, National Museum of the American Indian-New York, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the Bockley Gallery.

    Where/When
    Circling The Camp: Wendy Red Star
    iMOCA
    The Murphy Art Center, Fountain Square
    1043 Virginia Ave, Suite 5, Indianapolis 46203
    Thursday-Saturday, 1 p.m.-8 p.m.
    iMOCA is closed holidays and between exhibitions.
    Admission and parking are FREE.
    For more information please call 317.63i.MOCA

     

     

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  • Special Visitors | the Art of Victor Higgins

    by James Nottage, Vice President and Chief Curatorial Officer | May 20, 2014

    Victor Higgins family    
    Jack and Virginia Higgins visiting the Victor Higgins exhibit at the museum.  Jack is holding a childhood painting done by his uncle at the family farm near Shelbyville.
           
    A leading American artist and key member of the Taos Society of Artists, W. Victor Higgins (1884-1949) was a favorite for our founder, Harrison Eiteljorg. As a result, the museum’s collection of the artist’s work is strong, including oils from much of his long career. His depictions of the Southwestern landscape, Taos Pueblo, and of Native people are highly appreciated by scholars and general visitors. Eiteljorg even collected brushes, palettes, and other furnishings from Higgins’ studio. Part of the appeal for him was that Victor Higgins was born and raised in Shelbyville, Indiana.

    A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of greeting Higgins’ nephew Jack Higgins, his wife Virginia, and their friends Debbie and Rick Williams. Debbie and Rick have lovingly restored the Higgins farmstead, furnished it with antiques, and brought a painting to show us of young chicks at the farm, created when Victor Higgins was a child. Jack remembers his uncle and the automobile he used while painting in the field in New Mexico.

    We had a delightful visit. Over the years, descendants of many artists have visited the museum, including members of the families of E. I. Couse, Bert Phillips, and others. It reminds us that we are not that far removed from the lives of artists who only seem to be of long-ago. And, of course, their work still lives at the Eiteljorg Museum.

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  • Eiteljorg Throwback Thursday | THE GREETING Installation in 1989

    by Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art | Feb 12, 2014

    In June 1989, George Carlson's two-ton bronze sculpture, The Greeting, was lowered into place at the museum's main entrance. There are over 90 examples of the artist's work in the museum's collection. Carlson, was one of Harrison Eiteljorg's favorite artists.
     
    George Carlson, The Greeting, 1989, cast bronze

    George Carlson, American, born 1940
    The Greeting, 1989
    cast bronze, edition 1/3

    About the artist
    Renowned artist George Carlson was born in Illinois in 1940 and studied art in Chicago. He is an Academician of the National Academy of Design and a Fellow of the National Sculpture Society. The subject of this work is a Blackfoot man welcoming visitors; he holds an eagle wing fan up in a gesture of friendship. The work is an allegorical expression of welcoming friendship. Carlson has been the subject of numerous exhibitions and publications, is represented in many public and private collections, and has received many awards at major shows across the country.
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