June 25, 2006

Kickin' it with Coyote

On the work of Native painter Harry Fonseca:

A cool, American Indian everymanHidden not so subtly beneath the lightheartedness of these works are examinations of native identity and the challenges many Indians face in trying to fit into mainstream urban life.

A telling example is "Coyote Chief with Cigars" (ca. 1993). Like virtually all Fonseca's works, it evokes a carefree feeling on the surface. But it confronts American Indian stereotypes, as embodied by the once-widespread, cigar-store Indian statues of decades past.

Although the depictions of Coyote have a loose, often cartoonish, pop look, these works should in no way be underestimated. Fonseca is a sophisticated painter with a knack for handling paint, as illustrated by the deft, Pollock-like splotches and swirls he uses to evoke the background surf in "Coyote on Skateboard No. III" (ca. 1995).

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