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Harjo: Indian art world suffered severe losses

"The world of Native American art and culture has suffered severe losses in the past 12 months and I feel the need to reflect on a few of them for this moment in this space before returning to the tumult of Native politics and popular culture.

Elders of many Native traditions meet the news of a person's death by saying, ''Now they know.'' Here are many good people who questioned and shared much during their lifetimes, and now they now everything.

* Pablita Velarde (1918 - 2006) was an exquisite narrative painter and muralist. She lived a long life - 87 years - which took her from a time when Native women were not accepted in ''modern art'' to a legacy of inspiring women of all cultures, especially Native women, to pursue their talents and dreams. Confined to house-keeping, office work and nursing in her early life, she raised two children on her own and taught herself how to paint.

* Fritz Scholder (1937 - 2005) was the most famous Indian artist for most of his life in each decade since the 1960s. As an instructor, he spawned other famous Indian artists at the Institute of American Indian Arts, most notably his student, T.C. Cannon (1946 - 1978), the renowned Kiowa painter/poet/musician who took great pride in the knowledge that his dynamic portraits and vivid colors energized his teacher.

R.C. Gorman (1931 - 2005) was a world-class painter who was dubbed ''the Picasso of American Indian art'' by The New York Times. He was adored by Native women for devoting most of his watercolors, lithographs, etchings and bronzes to representations of Native women. He was nearly as prominent as a world-class celebrity, cook and host. His parties at his homes in Santa Fe and Taos, N.M., featured the A-list of artists, political figures, movie stars and the rich and famous, and were known far and wide as ''Hollywood on the Rio Grande.''"

Get the Story:
Suzan Shown Harjo: Now they know (Indian Country Today 1/20)

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