March 25, 2011

Incredible Hulk, guitar, and buffalo skull

The Denver Art Museum’s New Galleries of American Indian Art

“Tradition” is a Work in Progress

By Holly HuntIn the education area of the Denver Art Museum’s newly reinstalled Native American galleries there’s a display of objects that contemporary native artists have named as inspirations–an Incredible Hulk comic book, a guitar, an American buffalo skull, an African headdress, an eight-year-old niece’s drawing of the BP oil spill, a rosary from a village in Chiapas where Mayan ceremonies are observed in the colonial church. The touchable art supplies in the children’s activity area include deer knuckle bones and CDs. Everywhere on the museum’s second floor the visitor encounters reminders that native people are citizens of the modern world.

The objects on display include Chippewa artist David P. Bradley’s, Land O Bucks, Land O Fakes, Land O Lakes (2006), an oversized Land O’Lakes butter box retooled as a comment on consumerist society; antique souvenirs of Niagara Falls made by Iroquois beaders. A large scale painting by Northwestern artist Jaune Quick-to-See, Trade Canoe for Don Quixote (2004), visually quotes Picasso’s Guernica and the grinning skeletons of turn-of-the-century Mexican graphic artist Jose Posada. A display of paintings by contemporary painter Mateo Romero, including works from his Bonnie and Clyde series, is paired with video of the artist in his studio. Romero, who placed the Hulk comic in the education area, describes how his first experience with art was copying pictures from the comic book collection he shared with his older brother, Diego. The work of Diego Romero, also an artist, is represented by Bar Flies (1995), a Puebloan-style ceramic bowl depicting two semi-abstracted potbellied figures drinking themselves into a stupor.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Boba Fett Meets Coyote and Denver Museum Recognizes Native Artistry.

Below:  Mateo Romero, Cochiti, Bank Job (Bonnie and Clyde Series #2), 1992. Denver Art Museum; Native Arts acquisition fund.

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