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Artistic Expression: Essential to a Culture -- Selections from Native American Collections

 

Artistic Expression: Essential to a Culture -- Selections from Native American Collections opened August 15, 2003, at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. The exhibition combines 20th-century Native American and regional art of the Southwest from the collections of Richard H. and Adeline J. Fleischaker, on loan from the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, the University of Oklahoma, and the National Cowboy Museum's extensive Arthur and Shifra Silberman collection. Both collections include pottery and baskets as well as paintings from the Taos Society of Artists. Together, the Fleischaker and Silberman collections encompass every major artist, movement and school in the evolution of 19th-century and 20th-century American Indian fine art.

Richard and Adeline Fleischaker spent most of their lives in Oklahoma, Richard as partner and general counsel to the independent oil and gas company Singer-Fleischaker, and Adeline, his wife and the daughter of a prominent family in northern Oklahoma, working in oil and gas. The Fleischakers were captivated by the intrinsic beauty and cultural depth of New Mexico, moving them to search for, learn about and collect the art of the region. Between 1970 and 1994 they collected nearly 400 pieces of art. Their interest in the archaeological and social development of the region led them to gather quality Pueblo pottery, baskets and kachinas.

Richard Fleischaker held an affinity for Native American painters and their colorful, simplified work. In 1912, the Taos Society of Artists was founded and included Joseph H. Sharp, Bert Phillips, Ernest Blumenschein, Oscar Berninghaus, E. Irving Couse and W. Herbert Dunton. Later E. Martin Hennings, Victor Higgins, Walter Ufer and Kenneth Adams joined "The Society" which often was referred to as "The Taos Ten." The Fleischaker Collection contains works by most of these artists.

If there are threads that run throughout the Fleischaker Collection, connecting the pieces to the collecting, they are a combination of appreciation for the beauty of the art and the region, and an intense desire to learn about the history, methods and quality of the work. In 1996 the University of Oklahoma acquired the collection after both Fleischakers had passed away. It is now part of the permanent collection of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Norman, Oklahoma.

The Silbermans spent 35 years researching, examining and documenting the Native American Fine Arts Movement. They spent countless hours interviewing Native American artists, attending ceremonies and learning cultural traditions. Their pursuit of Native American art led to the formation of one of the most comprehensive holdings in private hands.

The exhibit will remain on display through May 16, 2004. Selections of Western art from the collections will go on exhibit January 23, 2004.

 

Following is additional information received January 8, 2004 on the Richard H. and Adeline J. Fleischaker component of the combined exhibit:

 

Visitors will enjoy an exceptional exhibition at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City through May 16, 2004, of 20th-century Native American and regional art of the Southwest from the collection of Richard H. and Adeline J. Fleischaker. The exhibition, The Fleischaker Collection: Western and Native American Art, on loan from the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art, The University of Oklahoma, includes pottery, baskets and sculpture as well as paintings from the Taos Society of Artists.

The works on display in the Arthur and Shifra Silberman Gallery of Native American Art and the Grayce B. Kerr Changing Exhibition Gallery include Buffalo Dancers, T.C. Cannon; Adobe-Tesuque, Fremont Ellis; Road to Taos at the Rio Grande; William P. Henderson, King Solomon, Leon Gaspard; Road to Chimayo, John Sloan; Sante Fe Landscape, B.J.O. Nordfeldt; Procession at Norogachic, George Carlson; frog effigy bowl, (Zuni) unknown artist; basket (Olla-Western Apache), unknown artist.

Between 1970 and 1994, Richard and Adeline Fleischaker developed a passion for the intrinsic beauty and cultural depth of artists who translated the beauty of northern New Mexico into their individual works. Eventually, the Fleischakers became interested in regional Native American art and their collection grew into one of the most valued of its kind in existence.

The desert beauty of the Taos landscape attracted artists of both European descent and American origin. By 1912 the Taos Society of Artists was formed by masters of the genre Joseph H. Sharp, Bert Phillips, Ernest Blumenschein, Oscar Berninghaus, E. Irving Couse and W. Herbert Dunton. Eventually the artistic elegance of the rugged landscape lured others to join the colony. With the inclusion of E. Martin Hennings, Victor Higgins, Walter Ufer, Kenneth Adams, the Taos Ten was founded. The Fleischaker Collection contains works by most of these men.

As Taos grew into an art center, it wasn't long before the movement expanded to close-by Santa Fe which was more accessible, making it a core of commerce and government for the area. Throughout the years, the colony continued to thrive, attracting contemporary artists such as Oklahomans T. C. Cannon, Glenna Goodacre and Alan Houser and New Mexicans Bettina Steinke, Randy Lee White and Clark Hulings, each of whom is represented in the Fleischaker Collection.

The Fleischaker Collection consists of approximately 400 pieces of art. "If there are threads that run throughout the collection, connecting the pieces to the collecting," says Pam Fleischaker, the couple's daughter, "they are a combination of an appreciation of the beauty of the art and the region; an intense desire to learn about the history, methods and quality of the work; and a generosity that made the Fleischakers more than 'patrons' of the art community."

The University of Oklahoma acquired the collection in 1996 following the deaths of the Fleischakers. It is now part of the permanent collection of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. The Fleischaker's vision and appreciation for art of the Southwest is now shared with students, the public and scholarly communities. Additional selected pieces will be on view after February 14.


Editor's note

Readers may enjoy reading these RLM articles and essays concerning the Taos Society of Artists:

 

rev. 1/8/04

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Resource Library Magazine.


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