Allan Houser’s range of skills on display


SANTA FE, N.M. – Known as the patriarch of American Indian contemporary fine art, Allan Houser, Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache, influenced countless artists and left a legacy of artwork of immeasurable, timeless beauty.

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe will present “Allan Houser: An American Treasure” in the Doris and Arnold Roland Sculpture Garden. The exhibit will be on display through April 29, 2007.

The exhibit features nine sculptural works, a majority of which was recently exhibited in Houser’s landmark retrospective at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington.

Houser’s remarkable life and career as an artist gave the world a gift in which he created an entire genre of three-dimensional forms, assimilating his interest in modernism with the narrative traditions he worked with as a painter. The museum will present a major selection of his most important large-bronze sculptures.

“Allan Houser: An American Treasure” demonstrates the remarkable range and mysterious power of his work spanning genres from abstraction to realism. “Resting at the Spring” (1986) is among the largest narrative works Houser originally created in stone. Molded from a monumental limestone carving to portray a mother and daughter in the role of providing family and community with water, this work is one of several figurative sculptures where ideal beauty, enduring stability and graceful repose are unified and given form.

“Ready to Dance” (1988), another piece on display, exemplifies the elegance and beauty with which Houser presents women in his work, and the sublime movement he created with the subtle sway of clothing.

“Morning Prayer” (1987) is a wonderful example of Houser’s use of modernism to create towering, dignified images. Standing at almost 9 feet high, this sculpture balances aesthetic and emotional substance in its reference to personal reverence.

The most massive bronze in the show, “Next Generation II,” was featured by the Smithsonian as the culmination of the artist’s exploration of modernist forms. Its fluid biomorphic presence will grace the entrance to the MIAC on the east perimeter of the Milner Plaza.

Even though Houser’s work clearly rises above the label “Native art,” there is a unique compassion in his forms which forces us to more closely explore Native life and history.

“Here, Now and Always,” a major permanent exhibition at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, combines the voices of living American Indians with ancient and contemporary artifacts and interactive multimedia to tell the complex stories of the Southwest.

The Buchsbaum Gallery displays works from the region’s pueblos. Five changing galleries present exhibits on subjects ranging from archaeological excavations to contemporary art. In addition, an outdoor sculpture garden offers rotating exhibits of works by Native sculptors.

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.