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Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Made in America

September 17, 2006 - January 14, 2007


(above: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, War Shirt, 1992, oil and mixed media collage on canvas diptych. Collection of the Montclair Art Museum. Museum purchase; funds provided by Tamar and Emil Weiss and prior gifts of Roland B. Swart 1937.27 a - b)


Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Made in America opens at the Montclair Art Museum (MAM) on Sunday, September 17th and will remain on view through January 14, 2007. Jaune Quick-to-See Smith uses humor and satire to examine myths, stereotypes, and the paradox of American Indian life in contrast to the consumerism of American society.  Her work is philosophically centered by her political activism and strong American Indian spirituality.  The exhibition includes 34 pieces of her work over the last decade in drawing, printmaking, painting, and mixed-media installation. (right: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Tribe Community from Survival suite, 1996, Lithograph, Master printer Michael Sims, Lawrence Lithography Workshop; published by Zanatta Editions Courtesy of TREX (Traveling Exhibition Program of the Museum Services, Division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs)

Born in 1940 on the Flathead Reservation in Montana to Flathead Salish, French-Cree, and Shoshone parents, Quick-to-See Smith became an artist while in her 30s and was earning a living as a painter before she completed her master of fine arts degree at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.  By the mid-1970s, she had founded artists groups, curated exhibitions, and organized grassroots protests to express concern for the land and its Native people.  She has developed a distinctive modernist style over the past 35 years, in a variety of techniques, Quick-to-See Smith has received international critical acclaim through more than 75 solo exhibitions and numerous international shows. 

Smith's politically-loaded subject matter ranges from cowboys and Indians to McDonald's and consumerism, reservation life, and war.According to Quick-to-See Smith, "Everything in America is for sale including land, water, air and elections"  That's why she includes money signs in her paintings as did Andy Warhol, but she adds other iconic forms such as ancient petroglyphs in her works to reflect both Western and Native cultures.

Twig Johnson, Curator of Native American Art, will coordinate the MAM presentation of the show. Johnson is also inserting selected works by Smith in some of the Museum's Permanent Collection Galleries which will provide visitors with opportunities to consider contemporary Native American creativity, with early Native American easel painting of the 1930s, and 18th and 19th century American portraits, and Native American art and ethnographic objects. Ms. Johnson proudly talks about Smith's work, "we are thrilled to be hosting such an important exhibition. Jaune Quick-to-See Smith's work reflects MAM's mission... her work always stimulates, teaches, and inspires." The Museum will display Smith's Tribal Map, 2001 #2 in its gallery of 18th and 19th century art, alongside portraits by Gilbert Stuart and John Singleton Copley.  Smith's map of the United States includes names of Native American tribes in their "home" states, many which are not federally recognized, or are extinct as a result of European contact. This large work (80 x 120 inches) will provide a unique opportunity for visitors to consider the role of U.S. policies on Native American history.

A fully-illustrated catalogue will accompany this show with an essay by exhibition organizer and Director of the Harwood Museum of the University of New Mexico Charles Muir Lovell.

The exhibition was organized in 2003 by Charles Lovell, Director of the Harwood Museum of the University of New Mexico, in Taos, for the Belger Arts Center for Creative Studies at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, and is circulated to MAM by TREX: the Traveling Exhibitions Program of the Museum of New Mexico.


(above: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, McFlag, 1996, oil and mixed media on 2 panel canvas with speakers and electrical cord, 60 x 100 inches. Courtesy of TREX (Traveling Exhibition Program of the Museum Services, Division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs)



The Native American collection comprises more than 4,000 ethnographic and fine art objects, representing cultural developments of peoples in the major areas in the United States: the Northwest Coast, California, the Southwest, the Plains, the Woodlands, the Southeast and the Arctic.  The collection spans the period of 1200 A.D. to the present day, with the core focus being on works of the 19th and 20th centuries.  The collection includes a wide range of clothing, household items, jewelry, tools, weapons, and ritual and decorative objects.  It is particularly distinguished for its California basketry and Plains material.

Arranged by geographic area, the ceremonial and utilitarian objects in the collection reveal the enormous range of traditions and artistic styles that emerged from each cultural group - from Navajo silver to Plains-Sioux beadwork, Haida carvings to Pomo basketry.  The collection also sheds light on the influence that the Europeans had on Native American artwork, both in the materials they brought, such as metals, glass beads, silk and cotton, as well as their design motifs.  Recent works by artists who reinterpret traditional Native American arts as well as by those working in contemporary mediums and subject matter reveal how this art form has evolved.  Following are highlights of the collection:


Arctic Region 
The core of the collection is the intricate ivory carvings traditional to the Eskimo.  The ivory carvings primarily represent animals, such as seals, polar bears, walruses, and whales, as well as depict the heroic or daily activities by the people in the community.  Also included are a wide range of household items and fishing paraphernalia.
California Collection 
Basketry its considered the major art form of the Karok, Mission, Pomo, Talowa, and Yurok tribes.  The Museum's collection contains more than 300 excellent examples of utilitarian, decorative and ceremonial baskets from the California region.  Highlights include Pomo feather baskets and early mission baskets. The collection also includes magnificent dance aprons and headdresses.
Eastern Woodlands and Great Lakes Collection 
Representing the Cherokee, Chippewa, Iroquois, and Winnebago tribes, the collection includes fine examples of Eastern woodland ritual art, Great Lakes region beadwork, quill boxes, and wooden implements.  A highlight of the collection is an Iroquois chief's hat (1950) embellished with feathers, bone and beads.
Northwest Coast Collection 
Beautiful examples of small-scale Northwest coast wood carving by the Haida, Tlingit, and Tsilkotin tribes can be found in the Museum's collection.  The collection includes figurines, ceremonial masks, bowls and jugs, as well as a model for a larger Haida canoe.
Plains Collection 
The collection has strong holdings of the embellished clothing, jewelry, ceremonial costumes, weaponry and pipes characteristic of the Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Crow, Sioux, and Ute tribes.  The items are decorated with intricate bead- and quillwork, and other appliqued items.   Highlights include a Cheyenne eagle feather bonnet (1900) and fine examples of Sioux tobacco bags and pipes.
Southeast Collection   
The collection has some examples of Southeast clothing, including bandolier bags, and basketry.
Southwest Collection 
Representing the Apache, Pima, Papago, Navajo, and Pueblo people, the Southwest collection features important examples of silver jewelry, baskets, textiles, Katsina dolls, ceremonial masks, headpieces, and pottery.  Highlights include traditional Navajo silver and turquoise squash blossom necklaces from the early 20th century and Pueblo pottery, from A.D. 1200 through present day.  Recently, the Museum acquired the ceramic piece Sacred Lake (1995) by New Mexico artist Jody Folwell.  This contemporary piece reflects the traditional Pueblo ceramic methods.


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July 12, 2006 update from the Museum: Jaune Quick-to-See-Smith will open on September 16th instead of the 17th. 

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