July 19, 2008

Paul Price's Pechanga paintings

Art with an edge exhibitedExpect art with an edge when a series of new paintings by Paul J. Price--a prominent Canyon Lake artist, archaeologist and historical activist--is publicly unveiled in Temecula beginning Aug. 15.

[T]he show, which runs until Oct. 5, represents an abrupt turn from Price’s familiar works, many of which track Luiseño Indian people, places and cultural practices. His new collection, which totals more than 40 paintings and is still growing, detours into many vexing contemporary issues.

Only one painting in the new series-–titled “Heart of Darkness”-–seems to directly draw upon Price’s long and bittersweet association with Pechanga tribal members and their leaders. That painting shows a feather-bedecked woman, an emotion-raked face cradled in her forearms, caught between a colonial mission and a modern-day casino.
Price's history with the Pechangas:After a series of preservation victories, Price was hired by the Pechanga tribe as an instructor and to help develop the band’s cultural training center and repository.

He also worked an artistic consultant to the tribe, developing a logo for its casino that opened in temporary buildings in July 1995. He recreated Luiseño rock art and other cultural items and subsequently designed the interior of the temporary casino’s café.

Price played a key role in illustrating the tribe’s cultural identity when the band built its permanent casino years later. His paintings of Luiseño people, settings, spirits and belongings were enlarged and splashed across the hotel entrance, massive conference room and other locations. Some of the paintings were reproduced as large as 50 feet wide and 18 feet high.
But:Price’s ties with the tribe were cut when his contract was not renewed nearly four years ago and another painter was later featured in a newly constructed gallery inside the casino’s gift shop.Comment:  You can see Price's Pechanga paintings on his Luiseño People page. His landscapes also seem to be centered around the Pechanga homeland.

I'm sure I've seen some of these images in the Pechanga Hotel and Casino. Nice stuff. Especially since he's a non-Native doing "Native" work. Apparently his paintings were authentic enough that the tribe kept and used them.

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