COVER ART: Detail from Eagle Dance. In total this large work is more than nine feet long. It was painted in Santa Fe during the early 1930s by Tonita Peña, the first Pueblo woman to be counted as an easel painter. Peña’s son, Joe Hilario Herrara, also was an important 20th-century Indian artist, and he was among the artists who painted the murals on the façade of Maisel’s Indian Trading Post in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1939.
Begin the year exploring a special exhibition at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum® in Oklahoma City. “American Indian Mural Painting in Oklahoma and the Southwest” draws upon the Museum’s expansive Silberman Collection of Native American art and provides a look at regional mural painting traditions with an emphasis upon work produced during the 1930s and 1940s.
Murals by 20th-century Indian artists are located in public buildings throughout Oklahoma. Six Oklahoma post offices and several state universities are home to large paintings created as part of Depression-era New Deal art projects. These and related works are described in the exhibit.
In conjunction with the “American Indian Mural Painting” exhibition, two educational programs are on tap in 2009. On March 13, a bus tour will take participants to several New Deal mural sites in central Oklahoma. Reservations can be made by calling (405) 478-2250, Ext. 264. On April 21, Michael Kabotie will lecture about his art. Kabotie is an accomplished muralist and his work is featured in the exhibition, which remains on display in the Arthur and Shifra Silberman Gallery through May 3.
Patrons interested in the American Indian Mural Painting exhibition may also be attracted to the adjacent Native American Gallery. According to a recent Museum survey, it is one of the most popular permanent galleries. The displays illustrate how American Indians expressed their world view through design elements on clothing, tools and utensils.
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