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"The West is Still Wild: New Art of the West"
2002-09-28 until 2003-01-09
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
Indianapolis, IN, USA

What is “new art”? And what is “the West”? To Ajean A. Lee, an Asian American, art and the West are bees in pink bubblewrap. To Richard S. Buswell, a physician from Montana, it’s three disembodied mannequin heads. To Indianapolis resident Red Rohall, it’s tacky motels out in the desert. To Latino artist Tony Ortega, it’s a blindfolded Justice partially covering an old Census poster. To Norman Akers, an Osage/Pawnee, it’s the crossovers between Native American and Euro-American beliefs and values.

And they’re all correct. What they see is the West, still wild in many respects, but far removed from Hollywood stereotypes.

New Art of the West 8 examines the West from all these angles.

New Art of the West is a biennial exhibition that brings the works of 19 contemporary artists to Indianapolis. These are artists who are Native American or are non-Natives living in or creating work about the American West. The exhibition runs Sept. 28, 2002 through Jan. 5, 2003.

Contrary to common understanding, many cultures define today’s West. Those cultures will be represented in New Art of the West 8, which includes Latino, Asian, Euro-American and Native American artists. Each artist creates work grounded in his or her unique combination of background, experiences, environment and cultural traditions.

For Don Crouch, growing up near the border between the United States and Mexico helped him incorporate new and old ideas into his work. He writes that his “goal is to capture the essence of my subjects with an implicit timelessness.”  

Julie Buffalohead’s art revolves around the “conflict between the realities of diverse Native cultures and the stereotypes in consumerist kitsch,” she writes. “The reconciliation of this quandary, that quality of Indianness, begins when we recognize the polarities that non-Indians have ascribed to Indians.” 

Beverly Beck Glueckert uses a variety of printmaking techniques, such as relief and monotype, in combination with overlaying and collage to create what she calls a “visual dialogue.” Her works include old holy cards, wallpaper remnants and discarded pieces of linoleum.

Curator Jennifer Complo McNutt is proud of the fact that no two New Art of the West exhibitions are alike.

“Each time we present it, this exhibition must reflect the changing faces and facets of the American West,” she said. “It must always bring a fresh and often a difficult-to-understand perspective to traditional definitions of Western art. But I’m proud to say that with every exhibition and with every artist, no matter how shocking or irreverent the work may be, the Eiteljorg Museum will present the unexpected West, the new West.”

New Art of the West 8 is a sales show designed to add works of art to the Eiteljorg Museum’s permanent contemporary collection, as well as to make today’s finest Western art available to a Midwestern audience. The Eiteljorg takes a 30-percent commission from all sales; these funds are used to purchase works at the end of the exhibition’s run. 

Tony Ortega
Blind Justice at the Border
Monotype Silkscreen over Poster

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