Author Archives: Ed Guarino

TERRA ARCTICA: The Landscape in Inuit Art

In the popular imagination, the Arctic is a vast, flat, monochromatic landscape, which is always covered in snow.  The truth is far different.  Depending on the season, the land may be white, shades of brown, or multicolored from a profusion of flowers.  Spring, summer, autumn, and winter bring with them a diversity of light, which […]

FACES: Portraiture in Contemporary Native American Works on Paper

When most people think of Native American art, they probably don’t think of portraiture.  Nonetheless, it does exist.  The people represented are often anonymous, but there is a large and growing body of work in which the subjects are identified.  The purpose for creating portraits and self-portraits is to preserve the image of a particular […]

GIFTS FROM CLAY MOTHER: Native American Ceramic Art

More than thirty years ago I started a collection though I had no idea that I was doing so.  During that period there were a number of gallery exhibits in Manhattan that focused on Pueblo pottery, including a gallery in Greenwich Village called Common Ground that specialized in Native American art.  It was there that […]

JUST BELOW THE SURFACE: Life on the Oregon Coast Before Westward Expansion

The Oregon Coast is rugged and visually stunning.  It is also rich in history, though much of it lies just below the surface of what the average visitor sees. There are tantalizing clues, however, in place names such as Clatsop, Nehalem, Tilamook, Coos Bay, Yachats, and Coquile, all of which are taken from Native American […]

DIEGO ROMERO’S SAINTS AND SINNERS

For those who are not Native American it may be difficult to understand why those who are, particularly Pueblo people, remain passionate about the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.  While for non-Natives this historical event is thought of as ancient history, for Native Americans it is an open wound – a reminder that their independence and […]

REMEMBERING SHAN GOSHORN

Most often inspired by an idea, Shan Goshorn worked in a variety of media, but her social commentary baskets became her signature work.  Much sought after by collectors, these striking and thought provoking creations employ a diverse range of Cherokee basket forms and weaving patterns.  However, rather than using traditional white or river cane splints, […]

ACROSS CENTURIES AND CULTURES: An Inuit Artist at the Brooklyn Museum

Discovering what inspires an artist is always fascinating.  When Padloo Samayualie was in New York in 2015 for the first Cape Dorset Legacy Project, a creative residency at the Brooklyn Museum, I had the privilege of spending time with her and I often noted how interested she was in the buildings in Manhattan.  It was […]

ONE! SINGULAR SENSATION: Selecting Works from the 2018 Annual Cape Dorset Print Collection

For collectors of Inuit prints the high point of each year is the release of the Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection.  The prints are produced in editions of fifty each, though on rare occasions one or two prints are done in a run of one hundred.  Cape Dorset has consistently been able to attract and […]

OVERLOOKED: Rick Bartow’s Drypoint Etchings

Most collectors of Rick Bartow’s work focus on his paintings, sculptures, and large monotypes, overlooking his drypoint etchings.  This is unfortunate since these small prints are among the artist’s most visceral works.  Rick Bartow used drypoint etching to explore a wide range of themes and subject matter.  The technique involves using a stylus or “needle” […]

LOOKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE: The Next Generation of Cape Dorset Graphic Artists

Over the last fifty years, Cape Dorset has been the only Canadian Arctic community that has consistently been able to attract and maintain a large group of international collectors.  This is due to the support of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative, the marketing and promotion of Dorset Fine Arts and, most importantly, the willingness of […]

COLORED WITH HUMOR: The Graphic Art of Ningiukulu Teevee

Known for her strong visual style, her powerful use of color, and her distinctive sense of humor, as well as her talent for presenting traditional aspects of Inuit culture in a unique way, Ningiukulu Teevee is one of Cape Dorset’s rising stars  Hers is a decidedly contemporary sensibility and there is no other Inuit graphic […]

IDIOSYNCRATIC: The Graphic Art of Shuvinai Ashoona

In all of contemporary Inuit art, there is no one quite like Shuvinai Ashoona.  Celebrated for her dark sense of humor, Shuvinai (as she is known to gallerists and collectors) has staked out a territory that is all her own.  By juxtaposing the familiar with the bizarre the artist creates a disturbing sense of disorientation […]

AN EXCELLENT ART ADVENTURE: Acquiring Works on Paper by Allan Houser and Harry Fonseca

As a collector, I am always interested in acquiring new works.  For many years the focus of my collecting was historic and, then later, contemporary pottery created by Native American artists.  However, sometime around 2008 I became aware that a number of Pueblo ceramic artists, such as Jason Garcia, Diego Romero, and Virgil Ortiz, were […]

AND THE SHIP SAILS ON: More on Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s Trade Canoe Series

              “They’re all trade canoes, something is being traded and in most of my political statements it’s about money being traded for quality of life.” Jaun  e Quick-to-See Smith   In the summer of 2009 I visited the Indiana University Art Museum in Bloomington.  When I reached the very end of Art of the Western […]

SHIP OF FOOLS: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s Trade Canoe Series

Writers and artists have used boats as a symbol for humankind’s journey through life since ancient times.  In the Bible, Noah, his family, and all of earth’s creatures are saved from the waters of the Flood by taking refuge in the ark.  The concept of the ship of fools originates from Book VI of Plato’s […]

TWO FOR THE MONEY: Selecting Works from the 2017 Annual Cape Dorset Print Collection

For collectors of contemporary Inuit prints, October is the most important time of year since this is when the Annual Cape Dorset Print Collection, consisting of over thirty works, is released.  Anticipation is high among aficionados in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.  The prints are produced in editions of fifty, with the rare exception of […]

UKIYO-E: The Influence of the Floating World on Rick Bartow’s Prints

Discovering what inspired an artist to create a particular work or why he or she used a particular style is always fascinating.  In the case of Rick Bartow the influences are many and intriguing: his Wiyot heritage, Vermeer, Klimt, Chagall, Max Beckmann, Francis Bacon, Odilon Redon, Horst Janssen, Edward Hopper, Hieronymus Bosch, Expressionism, and Surrealism.  […]

YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR: Museums Aren’t The Scary Places Some People Imagine Them To Be

Not long ago I was invited to attend a reception for a small art exhibition in Manhattan.  During two separate conversations, I learned something that I had not realized before: Some people are intimidated by museums.  I first encountered this feeling when speaking to a young man in this twenties.  He told me that the […]

INUIT SURREAL

The term Inuit art encompasses a diverse range of media, subject matter, genres, and themes which, as a collector, continues to fascinate me.  I have been continually surprised to discover strange, surrealistic masterpieces among the early works and equally amazed by the explorations and experimentation of younger Inuit artists. Inuit people have been creating art […]

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED: The Ceramic Art of Les Namingha

Artists who continually experiment and explore hold the interest of collectors who anxiously wait to see what they will create next.  Les Namingha is such an artist.  It is astounding that he is able to produce so many astonishingly diverse works.  Each of his pieces is unique.  Mr. Namingha uses the ceramic medium much like […]

FROM THE HEART OF THE SEA: The Ceramic Art of Courtney M. Leonard

Much of Courtney M. Leonard’s work is a response to the maritime influences that shaped the lives of her ancestors.  She is a member of the Shinnecock tribe whose ancestral lands are located on the southeastern shore of what is today Long Island, New York.  The 750-acre Shinnecock Indian Reservation is located about 3 miles […]

Two Old Women: An Alaskan Legend Of Betrayal, Courage And Survival: A Teacher’s Perspective

It is hard to believe that it has been just over twenty years since I first stumbled upon Two Old Women by Velma Wallis while I was visiting Fort Yukon, Alaska, the author’s hometown.   At the time, I was still teaching and looking for books that I could use with my English classes.  The fact […]

SAVING THE ZUNI MURALS: A Complicated Controversy

The first time I saw the Zuni murals in the early 1990s they appeared to be in pristine condition.  Alex Seowtewa and his sons were in the process of completing them and as I marveled at their vibrant colors and extraordinary beauty I thought that calling them “America’s Sistine Chapel” would not be an exaggeration.  […]

FILLING IN THE GAP: Collecting Early to Mid-Twentieth Century Native American Works on Paper

Recently, I came to the conclusion that, although I have ledger drawings from the 1800s and many contemporary Native American prints and drawings in my collection, it contains no Native works on paper from the early to mid-twentieth century.  As a collector, it is important to me that, as much as possible, all areas of […]

ONE PLUS TWO: The Annual Cape Dorset Print Collection Past and Present

For over twenty-five years, collecting Inuit works on paper has been an exciting and often exhilarating experience. Of course, the high point of each year is the release of the Annual Cape Dorset Print Collection. This year the collection contains twenty-seven works in a variety of print media – stonecut, stonecut & stencil, linocut, lithography, […]

AMERICAN VOICES

That art produced by contemporary Native American artists is American art is hardly a profound statement.  In fact, the idea seems obvious.  However, although there are notable exceptions such as the Denver Art Museum and the Brooklyn Museum, the work of contemporary Native American artists is rarely exhibited in encyclopedic art museums, including those dedicated […]

WOVEN WONDER: The Creation of Shan Goshorn’s Color of Conflicting Values

Much has been written about the decidedly modernist baskets created by Shan Goshorn but little, if anything, has documented her artistic process so that viewers can understand how these marvelous works of art (perhaps best deemed sculptures) come to be.  At first glance, Goshorn’s baskets appear to be benign, even traditional.  What draws viewers in […]

SHAPE-SHIFTER: The Ceramic Art of Glen Nipshank

Because his art shatters stereotypical preconceptions, many collectors are surprised to learn that Glen Nipshank is Native American.  They are equally surprised that his tribal affiliation is Big Stone Cree since most collectors of Native American ceramic art predominantly collect works by Pueblo artists.  Nipshank explores form, color and shading in his ceramics, most of […]

O Pioneer! The Ceramic Art of Jody Folwell

An artist’s vision often outpaces the expectations of collectors, curators, and critics since innovations are very different from shortcuts and often require more time, rather than less, to execute.  Truly great artists know this.  Although they may push the boundaries of their art, artists know that an innovation must be artistically grounded, not a mere […]

IT’S A BUG’S LIFE: More on Eliza Naranjo Morse’s And We Will Live Off the Fat of the Land Series

Artists never know what will inspire them. The sources are myriad – personal experience, Nature, literature, or the work of other artists to name a few. In 2011, I began to acquire a group stencils and a collage by Eliza Naranjo Morse that were part of And We Will Live Off the Fat of the […]

GETTING PERSONAL: Sarah Sense’s My Basket Story Series, An Artist’s Journey Expressed Through Art

In the fall of 2013 I contacted Sarah Sense with an eye to acquiring some pieces from her My Basket Story Series, consisting of sixteen works. Sarah responded that she wanted the series to stay together and go to one collector and, then shyly added, that she wanted that collector to be me.  I was […]

FAMILY VALUES: Sarah Sense’s Grandmother’s Stories Series

Collectors become aware of artworks they wish to acquire in a variety of ways.  From May 1 through July 5, 2015, the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa Hardesty Arts Center presented INTERTWINED, STORIES OF SPLINTERED PASTS: Shan Goshorn & Sarah Sense.  Although I could not see the exhibit in person, the artists gifted me […]

NORTHERN STAR: The Art of Annie Pootoogook

In just over ten years Annie Pootoogook went from novice to emerging artist to a star sought after on the international art scene.    Unlike many Inuit artists of previous generations, Annie does not present an idealized or romanticized version of life in the North filtered through memory.  Instead, she shows life in the Arctic as […]

THESE THREE: Selecting Works from the 2015 Cape Dorset Print Collection

The most exciting time of year for collectors of Inuit prints is the October release of the Annual Cape Dorset Print Collection, consisting of over thirty works.  Since prints are produced in editions of fifty each, with the rare exception of one or two prints with a run of one hundred, anticipation is high among […]

CLEO, LIZ, SARAH AND ME: The Genesis of a Commissioned Work of Art

Most people would never connect a 1960s Hollywood movie about an ancient Egyptian queen, staring Elizabeth Taylor, with a Native artist and an Italian-American collector and expect the combination to result in a wok of art.  They would be surprised to learn that this very mixture produced Elizabeth as Cleopatra by Sarah Sense. I was […]

COMMITTED: The Brooklyn Museum’s Dedication to Showcasing the Indigenous Arts of the Americas

One of the earliest catalysts of my passion for Native art was the Brooklyn Museum.  It was there, in the early 1980s, that I first saw the pottery of Lucy Lewis, an event that set me on a journey of over thirty years collecting ceramic art created by Native artists.  That experience was also the […]

FERTILE MINDS: Susan Folwell and Les Namingha’s Corn Maiden Series

Drawing from a seemingly endless well of creativity, Susan Folwell and Les Namingha are two of the most exciting and innovative contemporary American artists.  Their predominant medium is ceramics, which they use much like a painter employs canvas or a sculptor stone or wood.  Folwell is constantly pushing this art form in new directions – […]

MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR: The Art of Sonya Kelliher-Combs

Whenever I am confronted by the work of Sonya Kelliher-Combs I feel as if I’m on an artistic magical mystery tour.  I never know where I am being taken but the journey is always thrilling, filled with revelations, secrets, metaphors, portraits and original ideas.  Through her idiosyncratic imagery and use of unusual materials in unique […]

HELLO DOLLIES: Collecting Native Dolls

They have been called “miniatures,” “small spirits,” and “cultural microcosms” but, with few exceptions, dolls are first and foremost a child’s earliest and best friend.  Being a male collector, I never really thought much about acquiring Native dolls but somehow they made their way into my collection and into my heart.  It was certainly not […]

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT: The Graphic Art of Janet Kigusiuq

When I first encountered Inuit art I knew nothing about it but the more I saw the more intrigued I became.  Visits to Vancouver and Toronto fueled my curiosity.  With a little research, I discovered that the Arctic Artistry Gallery which specialized in Inuit art was only about two miles from where I lived.  Over […]

SCENES FROM CONTEMPORARY INUIT LIFE: Three Artists, Four Views

As a collector, I can say in all honesty that I never know what type of art will attract my attention.  Lately, I am mostly drawn to abstract works rather than those that are representational.  When the 2014 Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection was released (the highpoint of the year for collectors of Inuit prints) […]

FUTUREWORLD: Five Young Ceramic Artists of Note

Collecting is a learning process, or it should be, in my opinion.  In order to remain relevant, collectors and collections must continually evolve.  Although, over the years, I have acquired many different types of Native art, I began with pottery and, though I am fast running out of space, I still can never resist an […]

NEW, NOW, NATIVE: A Collector’s Pick of Contemporary Native Artists

More than ever before Native artists are challenging ideas of what it means to be both Native and an artist.  They are expanding Native art beyond traditional boundaries and refusing to be confined by anyone else’s notions of what their art should or should not be.  Nothing, be it themes, materials, or forms, is off […]

SLAVES OF THE NORTHERN FUR TRADE: An American Tragedy

Each year scores of tourists are drawn to Alaska’s Pribilof Islands by the prospect of seeing millions of animals in their natural habitat.  Most, however, are totally unaware that the “Galápagos of the North” was once the site of a shocking human tragedy that lasted more than 200 years.             The history of the Unungan, […]

COURTING CONTROVERSY: Napachie Pootoogooks Most Provocative Drawings

Late in her life, Inuit artist Napachie Pootogook began to create a series of drawings documenting life as it was once lived by her people, thereby creating a body of work the likes of which had not been seen before.  At the time Napachie produced these works, what collectors, curators and the general public wanted […]