June 10, 2010

Contemporary art at Coconino Center

Here's an item on a contemporary art exhibit at the Coconino Center for the Arts in Flagstaff, Arizona. I'll highlight a couple of the artists.

Beyond Mountains

The Native American Art Exhibition explores contemporary ideals and traditional roots

By Jennifer Rae Palmer
“Traditional Native American art is flat, one dimensional and usually about horses,” Whitethorne says. “I just didn’t grow up in that time period—with cowboy hats and pistols—so that’s not how I capture what is Native. I started there because that’s what everyone did and that’s what I was introduced to, but I took that and reworked it and found my vision.”

Whitethorne is aware of the huge change Native American art has seen throughout the years. He credits this to a more aware generation of artists, a more open-minded society, and to the idea that Native Americans have moved beyond the Southwest. Native Americans aren’t living in a controlled environment in the world—they’re becoming recognized as artists outside of the Southwest and even outside of America.
And:Joe Maktima, a Native American Artist for more than 30 years, says he’s always been invested in modern and contemporary art. Maktima began honing his artistic skills when he was a young boy painting Kokopelli and Kachina dolls. But, over the years, Maktima developed a taste for abstract art including works by popular influences Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso.

He enjoys playing with vibrant colors, geometric shapes and intangible figures. Maktima mixes colors and textures with familiar Native American forms to create gritty and distorted images. Each piece has its own myriad of textures which form shadows across the canvas, a useful tool to keep the viewer’s gaze scanning the piece, searching for something new.
And a couple paintings. First, Aurora Borealis by Joe Maktima:

And Always Herding Sheep in a Forever Changing Landscape by Jeremy Singer.

Comment:  Interesting what's on the left representing the nontraditional Native future. A section of the Yellow Brick Road, I presume. Bambi's dead mother. Galactus, the comic-book cosmic entity, drawn as a little space alien. And a red light, which may mean electricity or radiation (or stop...danger).

For more on modern Native art, see Yepa-Pappan's Star Trek Painting and Two Views of The Way of the People.

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