Downtown Oklahoma City’s Red Earth Art Center is home to a small yet impressive permanent collection of over 1,000 pieces of contemporary art and historical artifacts. The collection includes artwork by some of the nation’s most acclaimed Native artists – many with a backstory that features strong ties to their Oklahoma roots.
Since its founding nearly 40 years ago, generous patrons have gifted and loaned many noteworthy pieces to the permanent collection of the non-profit art center. “A Few of our Favorite Things,” currently on view through October 31, features the artwork and biographies of 17 artists whose creations have been gifted to the Red Earth Art Center.
The exhibit includes original paintings by Spencer Asah, James Auchiah, Jack Hokeah, Stephen Mopope and Monroe Tsatoke - members of the famed University of Oklahoma Kiowa Six (previously known as the Kiowa Five). During the mid-1920s, the Kiowa artists participated in a special program overseen by Oscar Jacobson, director of at the University of Oklahoma’s Art Department.
Although Jacobson provided studio space for the group, he did not want to interfere with the direction of their painting. Dr. Edith Mahler, an art professor at OU provided painting instruction and critiques. Jacobson promoted the works of the Kiowa artists and arranged a special showing at the Denver Art Museum. In 1928, the Kiowa Six were stars in the First International Art Exposition in Prague, Czechoslovakia where they received international acclaim.
The Kiowa Six are considered significant in the development of Native American painting by bridging the era of Ledger Art to flat-style Southern Plains painting style synonymous with early Oklahoma Native painters. While they weren’t the first Native Americans to be successful in the international mainstream art world, their careers proved inspirational to may Native artists in the 20th century.
“A Few of our Favorite Things” features a blend of both contemporary and traditional artworks by artists both living and deceased. Featured in the show are art pieces by Barthell Little Chief, Troy Anderson, Merlin Little Thunder, Woody Crumbo, Tillier Wesley, Archie Blackowl, Amado Pen͛a, George Beach, Robby McMurtry, Micqaela Jones and Ben Nelson.
The art pieces featured in the Red Earth Art Center show were donated or loaned to the organization over the years by John and Diane Culbertson, Dr. Mark Everett, Nancy J. Granum, Nadine Holloway, Beth Barnes Lott, Dr. Dan and Sissy Tubbs, Mary Gilmore McCaffrey and Dick and Lucee Wallace.
The Red Earth Art Center, next to the historic Skirvin Hilton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City, hosts a diverse and changing schedule of art and historical exhibitions. It is custodian of a permanent collection of fine art, pottery, basketry, textiles and beadwork – including the Deupree Cradleboard Collection, one of the finest individual collections of its kind in North America.
Red Earth is an Allied Arts member agency, and is funded in part by the Oklahoma Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau, Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation and the Kirkpatrick Family Fund.
The Red Earth Art Center is open free to the public Monday through Friday at 6 Santa Fe Plaza. Visit www.redearth.org or call (405) 427-5228 for additional information. Red Earth, Inc. is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote the rich traditions of American Indian arts and cultures through education, a premier festival, a museum and fine art markets.