Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • As I Remember

    by Jennifer Complo-McNutt, Curator of Contemporary Art | Apr 15, 2016
    It is with fond memories and a heavy heart that I share with museum friends the passing of Rick Bartow, artist, father, friend and one of the most genuine people I have ever met. RIP Rick Bartow (December 16, 1946 - April 2, 2016).

    Rick Bartow

    The first time I met Rick Bartow (Wiyot) was in Portland, Oregon, at the Froelick Gallery in 2000. I was there to review work for the second round of the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. Rick and his friend, artist Joe Feddersen (Colville Confederated Tribes), were both there and had both been accepted into the Fellowship program. I had spent time with Joe before, but this was my first face-to-face meeting with Rick. Rick was modest. Joe was not. It was the beginning of what would be my great pleasure to experience, for years, the unrelenting rivalry and trickery of their friendship.

    At that time, the Fellowship program was very young and so were the three of us. Gallery owner, Charles Froelick, was a wonderful host, making introductions and eventually taking me into the gallery’s storage, where I saw Rick’s incredibly prolific body of work. Drawing after drawing; wood carvings large and small; heart-wrenching, blood-boiling transformations of animals and people--birds and dogs were all there; bears, coyotes peering out with teeth and glasses and colors. It was overwhelming. With hundreds of images and ideas racing through my head, I choose the work for the 2001 Fellowship exhibition, After the Storm.

    The show included Fox Spirit (2000), which the museum later purchased for our permanent collection. I probably heard Rick tell the story of this unforgettable piece a thousand times. He called the taxidermy fox that is the foundation of Fox Spirit, “Mickey the dog.” Rick rescued Mickey from the trash at his home and assigned it to a shelf until it started to shed. In an attempt to save Mickey, he bound the fox and later spray painted it after it continued to disintegrate. He told me that when he painted the fox’s eyes white, he “knew it was art”—no longer “Mickey the dog” but Fox Spirit. The identifiable moment when this piece became art has always been a point of great interest for me and an insight to share with others. One more thing: The characters written on cardboard and wrapped on the fox’s leg have been translated as “one soldier” and “ramen noodles.” The mystery of those words remains.


    Fox Spirit, 2000
    Mixed Media
    Collection Eiteljorg Museum

    Rick’s work has a way of taking his audience to the precipice of our strongest feelings about our families, friends, ourselves and the mysteries of our lives. Rick’s first wife died in 1999, shortly after he created a self portrait. I remember taking 28 + 13 Selbst (1999) to the museum’s Collections Council for approval of the purchase. Comments included the power of the piece and how hard it was to look at. I believed then as I do now, some works are meant to be preserved by museums because they are so heart-wrenching, too honest for hanging over the living room sofa.


    28 + 13 Selbst, 1999
    Pastel, graphite, charcoal
    Collection Eiteljorg Museum

    When artists arrive for Fellowship weekend activities they are transported to their hotel in a “limo.” Most of the time the “limo” experience is really a shared ride in a large vehicle. For some reason, in 2001, Joe got a real stretch limousine and Rick was relegated to the average experience. Oh boy, that fueled the fire! And I never heard the end of it. But that did not diminish the great fun we had during the celebration. We were lucky enough to have a local gallery host a pre-opening “jam” with Rick and friends. We enjoyed great sounds on an unusually sunny November day.

    From left to right, John Domont, Kim Gradolf, Rick Bartow, John Vanausdall

    As a very generous act of friendship, in 2007, the Froelick Gallery and Rick donated to the Eiteljorg a maquette (small model or study in three dimensions) that illuminates the responsibility of raising a child. It is a beautifully-symbolic work that acknowledges young men who are incarcerated and their inability to provide for their families. It extols the importance of all parts of the community that support and build families. Rick’s daughter, “Wee Lilly Malcolm-Bartow,” peeks out of a basket; the moon and the sun; the coyote and “humblers,” birds who make us behave; salmon and masks come together to illustrate the balance and circle of life.

    Recently, while visiting Portland, I saw another body of Rick’s work that was large and magnificent and bold—even after his recent stroke. Nothing will ever take the life from this artist’s work. I was thinking this week how profound Rick’s legacy is and how each of his works is alive—not just like one describes the beautiful movement of an artist line or brilliance of color, but alive like a deep breath. Of all the artists we exhibit at the Eiteljorg Museum, Rick’s work reaches young and old, happy and sad, those who know a lot about art and those who don’t. It is genuine and authentic.

    Prior to his passing, Rick made another generous donation to the museum of work that represents his interests and ability in transformation—work that I have only seen today and have only begun to process. Here are a few examples.  


    Guard Dog, 1996
    Pastel, Charcoal
    Collection Eiteljorg Museum

    Grandmother Mouse
    Pastel, Charcoal
    Collection Eiteljorg Museum

    Coyote Chant, 2004
    Charcoal, Pastel
    Collection Eiteljorg Museum

    In my office I have two notes from Rick with drawings of birds and dogs. I look at them nearly every day and occasionally reread them. He was always grateful—grateful for the season and the day—and talking about animals and birds he had seen. Rick was always writing about the work--his work, your work and how it was going; what was new and coming up in his musings; what he was excited to see.

    As I talk to colleagues and friends and we acknowledge this great loss, the thought of Rick Bartow’s great legacy continues to inspire me. I keep thinking, the spirit of Rick lives on so vividly in his work, he has finally and truly transformed.

    Bob Hicks wrote a thoughtful story about Rick in Oregon Arts Watch:

  • Historians, artists, an outdoorsman and others help bring The Grand Canyon to life

    by Alisa Nordholt-Dean, public programs manager | Mar 19, 2016
    Whether you’re an art aficionado, history buff or a geology enthusiast, The Grand Canyon programming offers something for the entire family.

    Always wanted to be a Park Ranger? Pick up a Junior Ranger guide and earn your honorary ranger pin. Take a selfie in the photo op area; watch a film and share your own Canyon stories. On weekends, meet an Eiteljorg Ranger and hear tales of the canyon, ask questions and be inspired.

    Visit on opening day or the second Saturday of each month (March 26, April 9, May 14, June 11 and July 9) and enjoy exciting guest speakers and performers along with more ways to experience The Grand Canyon. Question a curator; create rock art; design a postcard; watch an artist at work; build a coiled clay pot; join a photography walk; learn about Canyon geology through art and so much more.

    Curt Walters painting  Moran Pt, Grand Canyon 6-2-2010
    Curt Walters painting Moran Point, Grand Canyon, in 2010. Photo by Tom Alexander Photography.

    Interested in art? On March 26, renowned impressionist landscape artist Curt Walters will talk about running the river, how the Canyon inspires his work, and his passion for conservation. Distinguished landscape painter and teacher Peter Nisbet will talk about his work and love of the Canyon on May 14 and lead a workshop for local artists on May 12 and 13.  

    Interested in people? On April 9, Hopi artist and musician Ed Kabotie will share the history of the Canyon from a Tewa/Hopi perspective, and author Stephen Hirst will discuss issues currently facing the Havasupai who live in the Canyon.

    Dave Edwards Rowing on the Colorado
    Dave Edwards rowing on the Colorado River.

    Interested in photography and adventure? Outdoorsman, photographer and Grand Canyon river runner extraordinaire, Dave Edwards, will share stories of running the Colorado River through the Canyon on June 11.

    Interested in history? On July 9, Linda Kuester will share the story of her mother, Ruby Jo Cromer, an Indiana farm girl who became a Harvey Girl in Arizona in the 1940s.

    Click here for a detailed program listing.

  • Curators' Canyon research takes them to the edge

    by Hyacinth Rucker | Mar 19, 2016

    On a cold mid-November morning in 2015, curators James Nottage, Johanna Blume, Ashley Holland and Scott Shoemaker walked to the edge of the Grand Canyon to watch the sunrise. That moment—a chance to experience a natural wonder that has inspired millions through centuries—prefaced two days of intensive study with the National Park Service, uncovering items, histories and stories to present in the Eiteljorg’s The Grand Canyon exhibition.

    Curators at Moran Point, the Grand Canyon. Left to right, James Nottage, Johanna Blume, Ashley Holland and Scott Shoemaker.

    The curators’ trip is just one example of the two years of preparation and planning that goes into each exhibit at the Eiteljorg. Previously, the museum conducted a survey of audience expectations and needs, and our curators reviewed collections at other museums and libraries, studied art and artifacts and conducted historical and other content research. Data gathered from these varied sources inform the development of our programs and exhibitions.

    Digitization enables Eiteljorg exhibit teams to do extensive research remotely. But there’s no substitute for visiting art collections and historical sites first-hand. To develop The Grand Canyon, our staff studied books, documents, art and artifacts at institutions from California to New York before ultimately traveling to the south rim of the Canyon itself. Their travels included stops at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Heard Museum in Phoenix and the Museum of Northern Arizona to survey Native American baskets, pottery and other artifacts, along with paintings, photographs and manuscripts. The Cline Library at the University of Northern Arizona was a rich repository of photographs, documents and other references.

    And through the cooperation of the National Park Service, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, we incorporated many special objects into The Grand Canyon exhibition.

    For Scott Shoemaker, the Eiteljorg’s Thomas G. and Susan C. Hoback curator of Native American art, history and culture, the Canyon trip was a first-ever journey to the American landmark and an invaluable experience. “Even in-depth reading about the Grand Canyon does not do it justice,” he said. “Being there tied together the Canyon’s layers of history and the stories of the peoples who are a part of it. It helped me understand the breathtaking magnitude and beauty of the space. It really made the depth of time and place tangible.”

  • The Grand Canyon

    by James Nottage, vice president and chief curatorial officer | Mar 12, 2016

    The Grand Canyon is a place of extraordinary natural beauty, carved by the Colorado River over the last 6 million years. Diverse communities of indigenous people have called it home for thousands of years. It has also inspired generations of tourists, explorers and artists who have traveled to it from points across the globe.

    Grand Canyon

    The exhibit, The Grand Canyon, is a multidisciplinary presentation that uses art, history and culture to help visitors understand the interaction of people with this important area over time. Three primary themes are explored throughout the exhibit: the Grand Canyon as environment, the Canyon as a place of experience, and the Canyon as a place of expression through many art forms. The exhibit, media and public programs will work in concert to inspire and instill a sense of wonder in visitors, and allow them to explore the interwoven natural and human histories of the Grand Canyon.


    A 50,000-year-old Harrington Mountain Goat skull.
    Courtesy Grand Canyon Park Service Collection.

    What will you see in the gallery? To learn about the environment, you will view fossils and other geological evidence of the natural history and formation of the region. Throughout the show, there will be Native American objects representing the 4,000-year history of a number of tribes that have called the space home and who still live there today.


    4,000-year-old twig figures of deer.
    Courtesy of the Grand Canyon National Park Museum Collection.

    Through a wide range of artifacts, visitors will learn about the experiences of Native peoples and those of the people who followed, including Spanish and American explorers, railroaders, artists, photographers, waitresses and a multitude of tourists. You will see great paintings commissioned by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway to promote the Southwest and the Grand Canyon. Throughout, museum guests will experience film and still images that go even further in expressing the experiences and creativity of people trying to grasp the magnitude, beauty and astonishing realities of the Grand Canyon, a World Heritage site. On the lighter side, visitors will have photo opportunities to picture themselves in Canyon settings. You will also become aware of the threats that make preservation of the park a pressing challenge.


    National Park Service Park Ranger uniform jacket and Stetson hat, 1930s-1950s.
    Loan courtesy of the Grand Canyon National Park Museum Collection.
    Photograph by Hadley Fruits.

    The year 2016 happens to be the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Included in The Grand Canyon are early uniforms and hats of NPS personnel who serve to protect and to interpret the park. We are especially grateful that the National Park Service has made it possible to borrow many special items from the Grand Canyon collection to feature in the exhibition. Other special loans from the Museum of Northern Arizona, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, the Capital Group and Foundation, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, and many other museums and private collectors make the exhibition possible. The Eli Lilly & Company Foundation is the presenting sponsor.

  • Meet 2015 Invited Artist Mario Martinez

    by Ashley Holland, Assistant Curator of Native American Art | Nov 13, 2015
    Over the next few days, the Eiteljorg blog will profile the 2015 Fellows who will be featured in the upcoming Eiteljorg Fellowship exhibition, CONVERSATIONS. An opening celebration for this exhibit will be held on Nov. 13. Details below!

    What follows is an excerpt from the invited artist statement of Mario Martinez (Pascua Yaqui). You can read more about the artist and his work in Mario Martinez: Reigning Yaqui of New York City by Jennifer Complo McNutt in the 2015 Eiteljorg Fellowship exhibition catalog, available in the museum store.

    Mario Martinez
    (Pascua Yaqui)


    My work has always been about nature and my inner response to it. Nature is also the basis for the original Yaqui religion before the introduction of Catholicism in the first decade of the 17th Century. The visual vehicle for my paintings, drawings, prints and murals, has been Western Modernism from its beginnings in the 19th Century to The New York School, and abstraction into the late 20th Century. To the present, our most ancient spiritual and ceremonial traditions honor the earth and the heavens. For the Yaquis, the Sonoran Desert is alive and has power.

    Mario Martinez-The Conversation
    The Conversation
    , 2004
    Acrylic and charcoal on canvas
    Collection: Eiteljorg Museum
    Photography by Hadley Fruits

    The Sonoran Desert has supernatural domains such as the Flower World (Sea Ania) and the Enchanted World (YoAnia). Those worlds are where our original spiritual and ceremonial traditions such as The Yaqui Deer Dance come from. The Flower World is nature at its most beautiful and the flower remains for the Yaquis the most potent symbol for nature and spirituality. Therefore, flowers keep reappearing throughout my long history of painting. Natural forms in my works appear through an intuitive process and seem to be my way to embed Yaqui cultural concepts into the great tradition of western modernist abstract painting.That said, abstraction in many forms has been present in all cultures throughout history. For me, the Sonoran Desert and Yaquiness have never left me and are ever-present even in New York City. The energy of city life influences my paintings and sometimes can even be seen in the structure of my work. The following is in the native realm and is in my own small way honoring nature: I talk to trees in New York City just like I did and still talk to the mesquite trees in Arizona.

    Mario Martinez-Superior Mindscape
    Superior Mindscape (for Robert Rauschenberg)
    , 2015
    Acrylic on paper
    Courtesy of the artist
    Photography by Hadley Fruits

    runs from Nov. 14, 2015 - Feb. 28, 2016. Please join us for the opening of the exhibition on Nov. 13. The Eiteljorg Museum will honor the five Native Fellowship winners with an intimate gathering celebrating the artists. Guests will also enjoy a performance by Indigenous. End out the evening with the Contemporary Arts Party featuring Indigenous, Supaman, and DJ Kyle Long.

    Friday, NOV 13
    Opening Celebration!
    5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Celebration
    6 - 6:30 p.m.      Indigenous performs
    6:30 - 7:15 p.m. Program
    Cost: $40 [includes admission to Contemporary Arts Party]

    Contemporary Arts Party
    8 - 9 p.m             Indigenous performs
    9:45 - Midnight Supaman, DJ Kyle Long
    Cost: $15 in advance, $20 at the door

    Click here to purchase your ticket.

    Luzene is one of five 2015 Fellows and her artwork will be featured in the exhibition CONVERSATIONS: The Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, opening Nov. 13. 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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