Current Exhibitions

Western Perspectives: Native American Artists and Images

11/20/2013 - 03/02/2014

Contemporary Galleries 5A + 5B map


Curated by Marina Pacini, Chief Curator and Curator of American, Modern, and Contemporary Art   

Many artists participated in the national fascination with the American West during the 19th century. That interest continues unabated today. This exhibition of thirty-two paintings and sculptures from The Tom and Mary James/Raymond James Financial Collection, dating from 1900 to 2011, focuses on the landscape, as well as on the traditions and lives of Native Americans. The artists are of both European and indigenous descent. Intriguingly, the Chinese artist Z.S. Liang is among the devotees of Western imagery. The works range from O.C. Seltzer’s nostalgic Indian Maiden Standing on Rock (1900) and Shonto Begay’s humorous Trouble on Highway 160 . . . Again (Waylon, Willie and Me) (1997) to Arlo Namingha’s abstract sculpture Butterfly Maiden I (2002).

Allan Houser, a Chiricahua Apache sculptor, stated: "I work not just for myself, but to honor the American Indian. I hope to draw attention to centuries old Indian values, especially concepts of living in harmony with nature that can benefit all people." The Navajo (Hyrum Joe), Crow (Earl Biss), Pueblo (Tammy Garcia), Lakota (Linda Haukass), Hopi (Dan Namingha), and Cherokee (Robert Taylor) artists in the exhibition also present the ceremonies, traditions, and lives of native peoples.  

The exhibition also includes works by the members of the Cowboy Artists of America, a group founded in 1965 with the objective to “perpetuate the memory and culture of the Old West as typified by the late Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, and others.” Joe Beeler, a founding member of the organization, is represented as well as Tom Lovell, Ray Swanson, and Jim Norton.  

While the landscape paintings depict the anticipated mesas and prairies of the west, there are also abstracted variations by Ed Mell (Desert Expanse, 2006), and Dan Namingha (Crescent Moon, 2009). The sculptures vary as well, from Joe Beeler’s detailed portrait Speaker of the House (1993) to Allan Houser’s abstract Mountain Spirit Dancer (1993). There are expected subjects, such as Geronimo, portrayed in a nighttime scene, and the less familiar surrealistic paintings by Paul Pletka (Pagonotch, 1989), and Robert Taylor (Do Butterflies Play with Caterpillers?, 1995). In short, the exhibition presents different views of Native American lives in a variety of artistic styles.    

Shonto Begay, Navajo, b. 1954 
Acrylic on canvas 
The Tom and Mary James Collection

Presenting Sponsor: Southern Sun Asset Management  
Supporting Sponsors: Bass, Berry & Sims and Parkway Properties, Inc.