Talented American Indian artists acknowledged their debt to Oscar Howe. Why? Howe wrote an adamant 1958 response to his painting having been excluded from the Philbrook’s Indian Annual competition. His painting was seen as not Indian enough in its appearance. This is the same competition Howe had won 1st prize in 1947. Below are two of the first sentences in his 13 sentence letter:
“Who ever said, that my paintings are not in the traditional Indian style, has poor knowledge of Indian Art indeed. There is much more to Indian Art, than pretty, stylized pictures. . . “
Howe’s retrospective Dakota Modern The Art of Oscar Howe and its corresponding catalogue provide the greatest access to gaining an understanding of this man’s entirely significant talent. The catalogue can be purchased on Amazon for roughly $50 new. Portland Art Museum hosts Howe’s exhibition until May 14, 2023. South Dakota’s Art Museum welcomes Howe’s exhibition June 10 – Sept 17, 2023.
As content-rich as this catalogue is, the greatest potency results from experiencing Oscar Howe’s work in person.