SERIES: Native American Chiefs & Warriors

ORIGINAL OIL PAINTINGS & DRAWINGS
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COMMENTARY: 

“On Painting Native American Chiefs & Warriors: The Images of Lived Lives.” 

(Scroll to bottom.)

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Chief Joseph #1Chief Joseph #1″

[FIRST COMPLETED OIL PAINTING BY THE ARTIST]  

[This image is being reinterpreted as “Chief Joseph #2”, see below.]

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PRICE LIST FOR CURRENT & PROJECTED WORKS
  • ORIGINAL OIL PAINTINGS
  • SELECT PREPARATORY STUDIES & SKETCHES RELATED TO OIL PAINTINGS: Graphite & Oil. Drawings sold matted. (limited discounts available)
  • ORIGINAL DRAWINGS (not related to Oil Paintings)
  • DISCOUNTS ON ORIGINAL OILS: Collectors, Broker & Galleries
  • Broker & Gallery Discount:  25% off List Price. (see charts below)
  • Added Broker & Gallery Discount: 15% off Prior Discount Price if purchased before completion, for a total Discount of 40%.  (see charts below)
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  • Sales Tax: not included in the List Price. Will be added where applicable.
  • NOTE ON SHIPPING & INSURANCE:
    • Shipping & Insurance for Oil Paintings (Original & Sketches): If delivered, exact shipping & insurance added to subtotal (domestic & international). Original Oils and Oil Sketches are shipped UPS 2-Day (domestic). Shipping & insurance cost not included if buyer uses own shipper account.
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  • ORIGINAL OILS:  Painted on linen/canvas.  Dimension varies.  Painted in the Artist’s signature style.  Limited palette used to bring out the fullness of Artist’s approach to theme and composition.  The Artist’s unique technique makes these Original Oils stand out and apart.  Original Oils are available framed, see Charts below.
  • SELECTED PREPARATORY STUDIES:  
    • Graphite & Oil Studies.  Drawn on acid-free drawing paper: 100lb. (260 gsm.) wt; or, acid-free watercolor cold-pressed paper: 140 lb. (300 gsm.) wt. Medium texture, regular or off-white. Limited use of charcoal and colored pencil.  No pastels.  Graphite Studies are sold matted.
    • Oil Studies painted on canvas; sold framed or unframed.  Oil Studies done to work out composition and color themes.
    • Selection made from multiple studies. (See charts below.)  Selected to highlight the approach, the attack, the cobbling together of the Original Oil.
  • SELECTED PERIPHERAL COMPLETED DRAWINGS (GRAPHITE): Drawn on acid-free drawing paper: 100lb. (260 gsm.) wt; or, acid-free watercolor cold-pressed paper: 140 lb. (300 gsm.) wt. Medium texture, regular or off-white. Limited use of charcoal and colored pencil.  No pastels. Peripheral Drawings are sold matted. Framing available.

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Prices and Conditions subject to change without notice.

Works purchased before completion are not subject to price changes and adjustments. 

CONTACT: stephengolay@gmail.com(209) 206-3758 (voice/text)

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SERIES (0100): NATIVE AMERICAN CHIEFS & WARRIORS

NOTE:

The sequence of any list does not indicate order of production.

Entries under “Sources” to be posted when the work is placed on the easel.

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(0101) “CHIEF JOSEPH (Nez Perce) #2”

Nez Perce (Wallowa Band). March 3, 1840-Sept. 21, 1904. Washington and Idaho Territories.

Chief Joseph, the leader of the non-treaty Nez Perce.  At end of his last battle Joseph delivered history’s greatest surrender speech. Delivered with perfect pitch from the seamless marriage of pride & humility.

Chief Joseph, the holiest of men.  Reason enough to place him first in our series – and holder of two other slots.  His life and words are worth a meditation or two.  Chief Joseph’s surrender, unlike Geronimo’s for instance, reflected that honorable life.

Regarding the Natural Law of Liberty, Chief Joseph:

“Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think and act for myself — and I will obey every law or submit to the penalty.”

SOURCES

TITLE: “CHIEF JOSEPH (Nez Perce) #2” (oil on canvas) 24 x 30 (after E.S. Curtis) 
Control Number ITEM LIST PRICE Studio Sale Discount (20%)   Broker Discount (Oil: 25% Study: 30%) Broker PreCompletion Discount (Oil: 15%, total 40%) NOTE
0101 Original Oil 2,800 2,240 2,100 1580
0101.a Study: Face, Left 175 140 122.50 n/a
0101.b Study: Face, Right 175 140 122.50 n/a
0101.c Study: Hair 175 140 122.50 n/a
0101.d Study: Costume #1 175 140 122.50 n/a
0101.e Study: Costume #2 175 140 122.50 n/a
0101.f  Oil Sketch 950 760 665 n/a
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(0102) “CHIEF SITTING BULL (Lakota Sioux, Hunkpapa Band #1”

[The Chief shows up again, below.]

Chief Sitting Bull was more healer than chief; he led his people through upheaval and near extinction. A study (and meditation) of his life is crucial in understanding the American Experiment & People. (And this, not a sop to the vagaries of Multiculturalism!)

Sitting Bull had premonition of Indian victory at the Battle of Little Big Horn.  From that he became one of America’s most written about, photographed, and honored of Native American Chiefs. Toured with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show: which was no diminution of his statue. Yet, in the end, Sitting Bull was killed during a scuffle to prevent him from being an inspiration to the Ghost Dance Movement.

Controversy has hounded that death; we’ll comment on it, and much more. Here, and in our book series, Notes & Definitions on Picture-Painting.

On the death of  Sitting Bull and his part in the Ghost Dance Movement.  Open. Read. Be patient with it. It’s quite an extraordinary piece:  The ‘Black Gown’ and What Could Have Been by Anthony Esolen (Magnificat)

SOURCES

  • The life of another Lakota Sioux:  Black Elk.  His painting comes later
  • Links & Resources on the Battle of Little Big Horn. Though this battle gets most of the press, what were the others?
  • How does a Native Chief Retire?
  • Links & Resources on the “Opening Up” of the Dakota Territories
  • Links & Resources on the “Setting Up” of the Sioux Reservation
  • Links & Resources on the Catholic Missions to the Sioux
  • Links & Resources on the Sioux Religion. Don’t be offended (a note to mostly white folk) that we use “religion” and not “spirituality”
  • Links & Resources on the “Ghost Dance” Movement & Our Commentary. What’s the relationship between Native American Religion and Apocalyptic/Messianic Hopes? (A side trip to Qumran and the Book of Enoch!)
  • Commentary on the Death of Sitting Bull

SIOUX STANDOFF AT STANDING ROCK

TITLE: “CHIEF SITTING BULL (Lakota Sioux, Hunkpapa Band)” (oil on canvas) 24 x 36 (after E. S. Curtis)
Control Number ITEM LIST PRICE Studio Sale Discount (20%)   Broker Discount (Oil: 25% Study: 30%)  Broker PreCompletion Discount (Oil: 15%, total 40%) NOTE
0102 Original Oil 2,800 2,240 2,100 1580
0102.a Study: Face, Left 175 140 122.50 n/a
0102.b Study: Face, Right 175 140 122.50 n/a
0102.c Study: Hat 175 140 122.50 n/a
0102.d Study: Costume #1 175 140 122.50 n/a
0102.e Study: Costume #2 175 140 122.50 n/a
0102.f  Oil Sketch 950 760 665 n/a
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(0103) “MEDICINE CROW (Crow)”

The Crow Tribe was a vicious enemy of others, especially the Sioux and the Northern Cheyenne.  Chief Medicine Crow united the Crow bands to fight the Sioux under General Cook in the Battle of Rosebud, 1876.  The Rosebud Battle was a foretelling of the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  Medicine Crow received a presidential invitation to Washington DC in 1880.

More commentary on Medicine Craw (his life & tribe), and why this particular image, to be posted when preparatory studies begin.

To get a sense of the painting’s composition, peruse the breakdown of its preparatory drawings.

SOURCES

Product Details

Reap the Whirlwind: The Battle of the Rosebud, June 1876 by Johnston, Terry C.

TITLE: “MEDICINE CROW (Crow)” (oil on canvas) 24 x 36
Control Number ITEM LIST PRICE Studio Sale Discount (20%)   Broker Discount (Oil: 25% Study: 30%)  Broker PreCompletion Discount (Oil: 15%, total 40%) NOTE
0103 Original Oil 2,800 2,240 2,100 1580
0103.a Study: Face, Left 175 140 122.50 n/a
0103.b Study: Face, Right 175 140 122.50 n/a
0103.c Study: Headdress 175 140 122.50 n/a
0103.d Study: Hands 175 140 122.50 n/a
0103.e Study: Costume #1 175 140 122.50 n/a
0103.f Study: Costume #2 175 140 122.50 n/a
0103.g  Oil Sketch 950 760 665 n/a
n/a
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(0104) “QUANAH PARKER (Comanche)”

Chief Quanah Parker was leader of the latter-day Comanches. The war against the Comanche Nation was one of the longest and bloodiest, from which Quanah’s mother, Cynthia Ann Parker, was kidnapped as a young girl. Quanah Parker’s (how shall we put it!) mixed blood (mixed heritage) fed into the longevity & bloodiness of the war.

More commentary on Quanah Parker (his life & tribe), and why this particular image, to be posted when preparatory studies begin.

SOURCES

  • [Resources & commentary specific to the painting to be posted]
TITLE: “QUANAH PARKER (Comanche )” (oil on canvas) 24 x 36
Control Number ITEM LIST PRICE Studio Sale Discount (20%)   Broker Discount (Oil: 25% Study: 30%)  Broker PreCompletion Discount (Oil: 15%, total 40%) NOTE
0104 Original Oil 2,800 2,240 2,100 1580
0104.a Study: Face, Left 175 140 122.50 n/a
0104.b Study: Face, Right 175 140 122.50 n/a
0104.c Study: Hair 175 140 122.50 n/a
0104.d Study: Costume #1 175 140 122.50 n/a
0104.e Study: Costume #2 175 140 122.50 n/a
0104.f Study: Hands 175 140 122.50 n/a
0104.g  Oil Sketch 950 760 665 n/a
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(0105) “PLENTY COUPS (Mountain Crow)”

1848-1932. Eastern Montana.

Chosen chief of the Mountain Crow at age twenty-eight.  A far-sighted (should say, prophetic) leader of his people through both war and reconciliation.  Plenty Coups prophecies and visions of the coming trials of the Crow Nation (and all Native Americans) were almost biblical (as were those of Sitting Bull).

“Education is your greatest weapon. With education you are the white man’s equal, without education you are his victim and so shall remain all of your lives. Study, learn, help one another always. Remember there is only poverty and misery in idleness and dreams – but in work there is self respect and independence.”

More commentary on Plenty Coup (his life & tribe), and why this particular image, to be posted when preparatory studies begin.

SOURCES

  • [Resources & commentary specific to the painting to be posted]
TITLE: “PLENTY COUPS (Mountain Crow)” (oil on canvas) 24 x 36
Control Number ITEM LIST PRICE Studio Sale Discount (20%)   Broker Discount (Oil: 25% Study: 30%)  Broker PreCompletion Discount (Oil: 15%, total 40%) NOTE
0105 Original Oil 2,800 2,240 2,100 1580
0105.a Study: Face, Left 175 140 122.50 n/a
0105.b Study: Face, Right 175 140 122.50 n/a
0105.c Study: Hair 175 140 122.50 n/a
0105.d Study: Costume #1 175 140 122.50 n/a
0105.e Study: Costume #2 175 140 122.50 n/a
0105.f Oil Sketch 950 760 665 n/a
n/a
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(0106) “WOLF ROBE (Southern Cheyenne)”
  1. 1838-1910. Upper Arkansas River.

The Southern Cheyenne’s ancestral home banked the upper Arkansas River, though nomadic and much pushed about.  Wolf Robe (his profile, that is) was selected as one of the images for the Indian Head Nickel.

More commentary on Wolf Robe (his life & tribe), and why this particular image, to be posted when preparatory studies begin.

SOURCES

  • [Resources & commentary specific to the painting to be posted]
TITLE: “WOLF ROBE (Southern Cheyenne)” (oil on canvas) 24 x 30
Control Number ITEM LIST PRICE Studio Sale Discount (20%)   Broker Discount (Oil: 25% Study: 30%)  Broker PreCompletion Discount (Oil: 15%, total 40%) NOTE
0106 Original Oil 2,800 2,240 2,100 1580
0106.a Study: Face, Left 175 140 122.50 n/a
0106.b Study: Face, Right 175 140 122.50 n/a
0106.c Study: Hair 175 140 122.50 n/a
0106.d Study: Costume #1 175 140 122.50 n/a
0106.e Study: Costume #2 175 140 122.50 n/a
0106.f Oil Sketch 950 760 665 n/a
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(0107) “COHISE (Chiricahua Apache)”

Commentary on Cochise (his life & tribe), and why this particular image, to be posted when preparatory studies begin.

SOURCES

  • [Resources & commentary specific to the painting to be posted]
TITLE: “ COCHISE (Chiricahua Apache)” (oil on canvas) 24 x 48
Control Number ITEM LIST PRICE Studio Sale Discount (20%)   Broker Discount (Oil: 25% Study: 30%)  Broker PreCompletion Discount (Oil: 15%, total 40%) NOTE
0107 Original Oil 2,800 2,240 2,100 1580
0107.a Study: Face, Left 175 140 122.50 n/a
0107.b Study: Face, Right 175 140 122.50 n/a
0107.c Study: Hair 175 140 122.50 n/a
0107.d Study: Costume #1 175 140 122.50 n/a
0107.e Study: Costume #2 175 140 122.50 n/a
0107.f Study: Right Hand & Rifle 175 140 122.50 n/a
0107.g  Oil Sketch 950 760 665 n/a
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(0108) “GERONIMO (Chiricahua Apache, Bedonkohe Band)”

June 16, 1829 – Feb. 17, 1890.  Arizona Territory & Mexico

Geronimo was given his name by Mexican soldiers during the Apache Wars.  His Chiricahua name is Goyathlay.  The links below are decent introductions to his life and the history of the Apaches.

The Apache Wars, though not the last of the Indian Wars, was their dramatic climaxing end.  Geronimo, after his surrender, lived a varied if somewhat ignoble life.  His conversion to Christianity was sincere yet rooted in the religion of his fathers.  His remarks comparing the two are interesting, for they uncover a native religion without root or foot in either nature or spirit – as if the place of the Apache way was one of perpetual waiting.

Geronimo battled the Mexicans more than the newly arrived settlers in the American Southwest.  The Apaches had waged bitter and brutal campaigns against Mexico since the latter decades of the 17th century.  Geronimo was the final denouement of a very long war.

More commentary on Geronimo (his life & tribe), and why this particular image, to be posted when preparatory studies begin.

SOURCES

  • [Resources & commentary specific to the painting to be posted]
TITLE: “CHIEF GERONIMO (Chiricahua Apache, Bedonkohe Band)” (oil on canvas) 24 x 36 (after E. S. Curtis)
Control Number ITEM LIST PRICE Studio Sale Discount (20%)   Broker Discount (Oil: 25% Study: 30%)  Broker PreCompletion Discount (Oil: 15%, total 40%) NOTE
0108 Original Oil 2,800 2,240 2,100 1580
0108.a Study: Face, Left 175 140 122.50 n/a
0108.b Study: Face, Right 175 140 122.50 n/a
0108.c Study: Hair 175 140 122.50 n/a
0108.d Study: Costume #1 175 140 122.50 n/a
0108.e Study: Costume #2 175 140 122.50 n/a
0108.f Oil Sketch 950 760 665 n/a
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(0109) WHICH WAY (Crow)”

Not much known of Which Way, his life or leadership.  Appears on various Agency Lists, and certainly showed up c.1905, self-assured and standing tall, for Curtis’ camera.  In our painting, we will do his righteous pride right.

More commentary on Which Way (his life & tribe), and why this particular image, to be posted when preparatory studies begin.

SOURCES

  • [Resources & commentary specific to the painting to be posted]
TITLE: “WHICH WAY (Crow)” (oil on canvas) 24 x 36 (after E. S. Curtis)
Control Number ITEM LIST PRICE Studio Sale Discount (20%)   Broker Discount (Oil: 25% Study: 30%)  Broker PreCompletion Discount (Oil: 15%, total 40%) NOTE
0109 Original Oil 2,800 2,240 2,100 1580
0109.a Study: Face, Left 175 140 122.50 n/a
0109.b Study: Face, Right 175 140 122.50 n/a
0109.c Study: Headdress 175 140 122.50 n/a
0109.d Study: Torso, Left 175 140 122.50 n/a
0109.e Study: Torso, Right 175 140 122.50 n/a
0109.f Study: Costume 175 140 122.50 n/a
0109.g Oil Sketch 950 760 665 n/a
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(01010)  “WHITE SHIELD (Arikara)”

The Arikara ranged widely over the Great Plains though, eventually, were settled in North Dakota. A confederation of the Three Affiliated Tribes.

White Shield was in the thick of things at the Little Big Horn, but walked away witho9ut guile.  Having ancestry on both sides made him prophetic about the outcome of the Indian Wars:

“The color of skin makes no difference. What is good and just for one is good and just for the other, and the Great Spirit made all men brothers.  I have a red skin, but my grandfather was a white man. What does it matter? It is not the color of the skin that makes me good or bad.”

NOTE:  Our chosen image of White Shield has him in full profile.  In photography this works.  Challenges are other in oil painting.  We’ll see, but, as with all the others, we will do his dignity well.

More commentary on White Shield (his life & tribe) to be posted when preparatory studies begin.

SOURCES

  • [Resources & commentary specific to the painting to be posted]

 

TITLE: “CHIEF WHITE SHIELD (Arikara)” (oil on canvas) 24 x 36 (after E. S. Curtis)
Control Number ITEM LIST PRICE Studio Sale Discount (20%)   Broker Discount (Oil: 25% Study: 30%)  Broker Pre-Completion Discount (Oil: 15%, total 40%) NOTE
01010 Original Oil 2,800 2,240 2,100 1580
01010.a Study: Face, Profile 175 140 122.50 n/a
01010.b Study: Headdress #1 175 140 122.50 n/a
01010.c Study: Headdress #2 175 140 122.50 n/a
01010.d Study: Costume #1 175 140 122.50 n/a
01010.e Study: Costume #2 175 140 122.50 n/a
01010.f Oil Sketch 950 760 665 n/a
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(01011) “CHIEF KICKING HORSE (Flathead, Salish)”

Commentary on Kicking Horse (his life & tribe), and why this particular image, to be posted when preparatory studies begin.

SOURCES

  • [Resources & commentary specific to the painting to be posted]
TITLE: “CHIEF KICKING HORSE (Flathead, Salish)” (oil on canvas) 24 x 30 (after F. A. Rinehart)
Control Number ITEM LIST PRICE Studio Sale Discount (20%)   Broker Discount (Oil: 25% Study: 30%)  Broker Pre-Completion Discount (Oil: 15%, total 40%) NOTE
01011 Original Oil 2,800 2,240 2,100 1580
01011.a Study: Face, Left 175 140 122.50 n/a
01011.b Study: Face, Right 175 140 122.50 n/a
01011.c Study: Hair 175 140 122.50 n/a
01011.d Study: Costume #1 175 140 122.50 n/a
01011.e Study: Costume #2 175 140 122.50 n/a
01011.f Oil Sketch 950 760 665 n/a
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(01012) “CHIEF SITTING BULL (Lakota Sioux, Hunkpapa) #2”

More commentary on Chief Sitting Bull (his life & tribe), and why this particular image, to be posted when preparatory studies begin.

For preliminary details & links see above under (o1o2)

TITLE: “CHIEF SITTING BULL (Lakota Sioux, Hunkpapa Band) #2” (oil on canvas) 
Control Number ITEM LIST PRICE Studio Sale Discount (20%)   Broker Discount (Oil: 25% Study: 30%)  Broker PreCompletion Discount (Oil: 15%, total 40%) NOTE
01012 Original Oil 2,800 2,240 2,100 1580
01012.a Study: Face, Left 175 140 122.50 n/a
01012.b Study: Face, Right 175 140 122.50 n/a
01012.c Study: Hair 175 140 122.50 n/a
01012.d Study: Costume #1 175 140 122.50 n/a
01012.e Study: Costume #2 175 140 122.50 n/a
01012.f Oil Sketch 950 760 665 n/a
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(01013) “CHIEF JOSEPH (Nez Perce) #3”

More commentary on Chief Joseph (his life & tribe), and why this particular image, to be posted when preparatory studies begin.

For preliminary details & links see above under (o1o1)

TITLE: “CHIEF JOSEPH (Nez Perce) #3” (oil on canvas) 24 x 30            
Control Number ITEM LIST PRICE Studio Sale Discount (20%)   Broker Discount (Oil: 25% Study: 30%)  Broker PreCompletion Discount (Oil: 15%, total 40%) NOTE
01013 Original Oil 2,800 2,240 2,100 1580
01013a Study: Face, Left 175 140 122.50 n/a
01013.b Study: Face, Right 175 140 122.50 n/a
01013.c Study: Hair 175 140 122.50 n/a
01013.d Study: Costume #1 175 140 122.50 n/a
01013.e Study: Costume #2 175 140 122.50 n/a
01013.f Oil Sketch 950 760 665 n/a
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(01014) “CHIEF JOSEPH (Nez Perce) #4”

More commentary on Chief Joseph (his life & tribe), and why this particular image, to be posted when preparatory studies begin.

For preliminary details & links see above under (o1o1)

TITLE: “CHIEF JOSEPH (Nez Perce) #4” (oil on canvas) 24 x 36            
Control Number ITEM LIST PRICE Studio Sale Discount (20%)   Broker Discount (Oil: 25% Study: 30%)  Broker PreCompletion Discount (Oil: 15%, total 40%) NOTE
01014 Original Oil 2,800 2,240 2,100 1580
01014.a Study: Face, Left 175 140 122.50 n/a
01014.b Study: Face, Right 175 140 122.50 n/a
01014.c Study: Headdress #1 175 140 122.50 n/a
01014.d Study: Headdress #2 175 140 122.50 n/a
01014.d Study: Hands 175 140 122.50 n/a
01014.e Study: Costume #1 175 140 122.50 n/a
01014.f Study: Costume #2 175 140 122.50 n/a
01014.g Oil Sketch 950 760 665
 * * *

IMAGE SOURCE:  The sources used for our images are vintage, contemporary photographs of the subject. That’s OK with us.  Some of these images have been firmly rooted in the cultural imagination; many have been drawn, painted, and sculpted before – often expertly. We accept that husbandry; honest originality falls as fruit from well-rooted trees.The point being: our approach, our take on things, our looking about, the style of our brush and pencil is uniquely ours (striking, almost startling).  Originality only succeeds when the work draws the viewer to the hovering originating subject! There is honor in that kind of painting – and that sort of looking.

[For more on the use of vintage photography see below, and comments on the Historic California PAGE.]

* * *

WHICH CHIEFS AND TRIBES? 

The series is populated mostly by Plains, Southwest and Mountain (High Basin) tribal nations.  These tribes, more than others, have husband the American imagination of the Frontier and the West.  With an obligatory nod to Eastern and Coastal tribes (even the Cherokee),  the Plains, Southwest, and Mountain nations had the greater story; and, in that, contributed more to America’s understanding of herself.

* * *

COMMENTARY ON OUR PICTURE-PAINTING

THE IMAGES OF LIVED LIVES

(For more on picturing out Lived Lives, see commentary under “Historic California.)

* * *

Don’t do it. Don’t diminish the work because our paintings are anchored to vintage photography: each one rooted in images others took of themselves.

We’re not duplicating!  We’re interpreters of once lived lives, this time through oils on canvas. These Chiefs & Warriors (as with our Past Californians, & Mother Lode Cowboys) came to the camera and stood their ground.  It was their camera which blinked and took. We, at our easel, interpret and envision their election of how they chose to be seen.

Our paintings happily bind our imagination to theirs. This disciplines the imagination to better effect than any anarchy of oils and canvas rioting across the subjects themselves. Their images are not fodder to an artist’s technique and experiment, subject to his whim and whimsy. Upon paper or canvas the nobility of once lived lives commands.

Our painterly duty partners the viewer with the subject, making them companions through imagination and craft, and doing so in the company of the singular (and handed off) image.

 

They took. We receive. The viewer sees. A trinity of sorts, holding the passed along image in common.

Not any image; and not images unimagined.  Like God’s image tucked into Man’s marrow & sinews, our orderly “riot” of oils brush into view Past Californians as they saw themselves. The pattern of how to do so has been borne and bored into us.

God bore his own image into Man and left him still a creature. Likewise, our interpretive Hog-Bristle Brush daps into the image of others, as a palette, and leaves their solitude undisturbed and dignified.

At Creation all three are held in honor: God, of course, the maker of all, Man the creature, and the image held (without mixture or confusion) by one in communion with the other. The Craft, taking clue from God’s way of making, honors the dignity of the image’s solitude, the Artist’s duty to pictorially see and translate, and, of course, the viewer, crossing the path of both, eyeballing it all.

The Artist – doing what needs to be done through insight & imagination – both suspends his own image (existence) – bracketing off its interference so the subject can be truly seen and honestly invited – and tools up his singular vision for the work at hand.

It’s tricky business, this putting down of self and taking up.

* * *

In all this, we must not forget that if Chiefs & Warriors (as with Past Californians, & Mother Lode Cowboys) had not stood their ground (before their cameras) tasking our brush would be in vain: there would be no image to hold up to point to. Without standing their ground eye and hand would be unemployed.

[Don’t ask it: Before the camera, what? The point is not about photography and photographs. You’d be surprised – shouldn’t – what artists did to capture and hold before they tasked their brush.]

For all that, it’s the subject of once lived lives that counts, which stands as the generating genesis of our work.  Technique, style, and method, is not the genesis of art – the subject is. Against their dignity & solitude, Artist and viewer are only witnesses. Without, we labor in vain.

Here is the calling of our art.

* * *

ON VINTAGE SOURCES

Contemporary (vintage) photography snapped the subjects within the limits of its art:  the composition of figures, which memories and moods to be captured,  and those not; let alone, the range and limitations of the equipment at hand and their manhandling.

If they were, in any sense, hamstrung and hobbled by their primitive technology that didn’t cripple their visual witness?

Taking all that into account, their camera, presenting them this way and not that, within certain bounds, was not a deficit. It may look that way to our later-day Post-Modernist Age, obsessively reconstructing every  object and person eyed in its crosshairs; it may look that way to an age, long gone towards its apocalyptic end, refusing to acknowledge any thing (or person) not reflected in its narcissistic looking-glass.

(To flip the coin: what is it about our privileged digital (pixel) technology that makes us better seers of ourselves? If our si8ght better for it, do we see more clearly for having been PhotoShopped, YouTubed and Twittered?)

These Past Californians handed their images to us along with their confident and established ways of looking-about.  If we had been there, with our expectations and equipment, would the handed-off images been any better?  No, they simply would have been other – though not necessarily nearer to the truth of their once lived lives.  No more faithful invention was there, with them, but theirs.

And, we weren’t – there.

* * *

So what’s left to us? Utmost, respect for what’s given: to get inside the heads of our Chiefs & Warriors (our Past Californians & Mother Lode Cowboys): to stand within their sight-lines.  To work with what we have.

Yet questions remain, dog us.  How much, for instance, to alter, to recompose, add, snip or augment?

Is this simply a matter of taste?  It’s more.  Honesty must be kept in view: integrity, the keeping in sight the heart of a thing.

Most of the  subjects for our paintings come from the same trilogy of sources:  photographs, contemporary literature & reports, and, certainly, imagination.

Imagination can, and often does, override the other two as it goes about doing all sorts of mischief. Yet, it must no9t be forgotten, that for the mischievous tease to have effect it must be grounded on what stays, the truth of a thing.

Holding on properly to what was handed-off, the imagination is disciplined by the nature of what’s given. If, for effect, the edges of imagination are to be tested, teased, or expanded, the object of its gaze must  be kept always in view, and its looking honest.

Handed-off images, such as vintage photos, are not false witnesses.  They are testifiers of  their own truth. The imagination, and its Hog-Bristle Brush, which must be tethered to the subject before it goes about exploring an exhibiting. Artistic “liberty” running a-muck is no art.

* * *

© Stephen L. Golay

 

 

 

 

Comments
  1. […] SERIES: Native American Chiefs & Warriors […]

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