Opening Friday August 22 -’Without Limits: Contemporary Indian Market Exhibition’

Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art presents its annual Contemporary Indian Market Exhibition, Without Limits from August 15 – September 13, 2008. Opening reception is Friday, August 22, 5-7pm.


Without Limits showcases the work of eleven Native artists who challenge preconceptions about Native art and identity whether seen through their own personal lens or through the lens of outsiders to Native culture. The idea of pushing the limits has several interpretations. Some work pushes limits by redefining aesthetic tradition within a contemporary context, while still addressing issues of Native identity, while other work pushes the limits in terms of medium, scale and imagery. The scope of the exhibition includes regional artists mixed in with several artists from the east and west coasts, embracing a broad range of mediums and techniques. The artists represented in Without Limits are Harry Fonseca, Norman Akers, Rick Bartow, Lisa Holt and Harlan Reano, Kay WalkingStick, and Rose B. Simpson. Also featured are Yatika Starr Fields, Frank Buffalo Hyde, Kade Twist, Emmi Whitehorse and Nora Naranjo-Morse.


The late Harry Fonseca (Nisenan Maidu) whose estate is represented by Chiaroscuro is known for his series of Coyote images that place the well-known trickster figure of Native myth (along with his girlfriend, Rose!) in contemporary settings. In Fonseca’s hands, Coyote became a metaphor for the endurance of Indian peoples who may relate to the figure’s resiliency and adaptability. Fonseca brought a lighthearted approach to his Coyote series by simultaneously lampooning and embracing modern American culture. The show will include a full portfolio of paintings on paper from the 1980’s that illustrate Coyote and Rose in full form.  Norman Akers (Osage) will present narrative abstract paintings that rely on a profusion of variable imagery in each canvas that makes up an allegory. In his painting Rebirth 2000, depictions of embryos, acorns, and trees make reference to transformations both personal and extended to the Native experience. Other paintings reference the negative impact of Man on the environment, a global and not purely Native concern. All of Aker’s large scale paintings pull the viewer into an energized world of juxtapositions, allowing numerous interpretations of narrative, color and shape relationships.  Rick Bartow (Wiyot), working in ink and pastel, defies graceful blending of the medium by using heavy, furious applications of color. With his loose gestural markings, Bartow contrasts bright hues with darks forming intense edgy portraits. His schizophrenic imagery is heightened by the use of pinks, light blues, greens, and whites. There is a suggestion in his work of raging, animal instinct, but also of visions accompanying powerful internal transformation.  Lisa Holt (Cochiti Pueblo) and Harlan Reano (Santa Domingo Pueblo) are collaborators. Traditional ceramic vessels, formed by Holt (niece of well known ceramic sculptor and fashion designer Virgil Ortiz) are painted by Reano. Together, they expand the limits of tradition by introducing original contemporary imagery painted with traditional pigments. Their collaboration echoes that of other famous potters like Maria and Julian Martinez but has a more contemporary trajectory. The exhibition will include ceramic vessels and figures executed in their unique style.  Kay WalkingStick (Cherokee) blends landscapes with figurative imagery of people or abstract symbols and patterns Sometimes the human figure, often depicted in dance, is represented in outline form more suggestive of spirit than of flesh and blood. There is a dual aspect to much of her work: a mountain range might be juxtaposed with Native serrated diamond motifs, for instance, or geometric blanket designs form the foundation for a dance. The show will include recent paintings and works on paper from WalkingStick.  Rose B. Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo) is a young artist working in a variety of mediums and continues to challenge convention with her figurative ceramic sculptures. Simpson makes visceral self-portraits that grapple with themes of personal transformation and identity. Her simply rendered figurative sculptures are highly expressive, as though each possesses its own unique soul and destiny. Simpson will present life sized figures as well as sculptural wall pieces.

Other artists in the show include Yatika Starr Fields, Frank Buffalo Hyde, Kade Twist, Emmi Whitehorse and Nora Naranjo-Morse. Yatika Starr Fields (Cherokee, Creek, and Osage) is a standout among young Native painters. Living and working in New York City, his work is a vibrant and surreal fusion of Native imagery with both a pop and graffiti art aesthetic. The work of Frank Buffalo Hyde (Iroquois) challenges the often one-sided view of Native peoples as traditionalists with his emotionally charged canvases full of figurative and textual forms. Mixed media and installation artist Kade Twist uses floating Cherokee syllabary text, suspended in encaustic, to form abstract patterns that convey how language and identity are closely linked. Like Buffalo Hyde, Twist is concerned with resisting Native stereotypes while still affirming Native heritage. Painter Emmi Whitehorse’s (Navajo) abstract canvases depict layers of markings, lines and shapes interwoven in fields of blended color. Not purely abstract, her paintings suggest landscapes with firmaments, the lines between them softly blurred. Included works are a sneak preview of Whitehorse’s solo exhibition opening September 19, 2008. Nora Naranjo-Morse (Santa Clara Pueblo) resists capitulation to commercialize her art by making large-scale sculpture and environmental installations rather than ceramics that are identifiably “Pueblo“. Coming from a background steeped in pottery tradition, Naranjo-Morse’s work has challenged audiences within and outside of her own cultural heritage for many years.


Taken as a whole, Without Limits will be spread through seven rooms and 4000 sq. ft of exhibition space at Chiaroscuro. The show is on view starting August 15 (one week before Indian Market) and the public opening reception August 22 from 5-7pm.


Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday 12-4pm