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Allan Houser: Water

March 21 - May 24, 2004


Rarely is there an artist who defies all categories of culture, medium and style. Too often we typecast artists into groupings that provide an easy handle by which we carry their identity, often missing out on the complexity of their work. To place Allan Houser in a simple category is an error in judgment. The only good qualifying descriptive adjective for him is a great artist.
David Turner, Director, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

The great-grandson of the legendary chief Mangas Coloradas and great-nephew of Geronimo, Houser was raised on his family's Oklahoma farm and from his earliest years loved to sketch and draw. His first formal art education took place between 1934 and 1938 with Dorothy Dunn at the Painting Studio of the Santa Fe Indian School. It was here that Houser began to depict his cherished Apache tradition in his own way. (right: Allan Houser, 1914-1994, Untitled)

During the many years he taught art -- in Utah and at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico -- Houser encouraged his students to find and express their own identity and voice. Many artists have emulated his style over the years, but the sculptor's greatest joy was in seeing young artists work from deep within themselves.

In 1949 Houser received a Guggenheim Fellowship in painting and sculpture which allowed him to set up a studio on his family's Oklahoma farm. From 1962 to 1975 he taught at the Institute of American Indian Arts, where he also served as chairman of the sculpture department. When he retired in 1975 it was to devote his time to his own art. (left: Allan Houser, 1914-1994)

The exhibition Water represents only one facet of the artistic legacy of Allan Houser. His career is remarkable in the range of artistic mediums he was able to master. This collection of forty-six watercolors and seven bronzes represents an archive of more than ten thousand pieces of art created by the artist during his lifetime. This work is now housed in the Allan Houser Archives and maintained by the Allan Houser Foundation, who is circulating this exhibition. These watercolors demonstrate Allan Houser's proficiency with the medium as well as his profound connection with his environment. The scenes reflect the landscape of the southwest and the culture of its people. They were painted between 1960 and 1975 on trips with students as well as at his studio in Santa Fe. In this collection one can clearly see how Houser's two-dimensional work served as a catalyst for his sculptural creations.

Visitors to the Muscatine Art Center may also view the Allan Houser sculpture "Prayer of Peace" given by Mr. and Mrs. Stanley M. Howe in 1987 in honor of C. Maxwell Stanley, in the Art Center's courtyard. (right: Allan Houser, 1914-1994, Untitled)


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