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Posts Tagged ‘Pow Wow’

I grew up with a small black and white picture of my Grandmother Parker as proof positive we had Native American heritage.  Unlike earlier generations, who felt the need to deny being Native, my mother was proud of this photo.  It was said that Grandma Parker was a daughter of Quannah Parker.  My mother has the love of all things Native, so it was natural I would turn to painting Native Americans.  What was not natural for me, was to paint deceased children.

When I began oil painting, I found that my love was painting people. If I would have had the money for models, I would have painted the nude human form exclusively. Since I needed to stick to clothed forms, I began accepting commissions for children.

The problem with painting children is that, in the economic circle I have floated in most of my life, the only commissions I was getting were in the $300 range and were people who wanted to remember their children who had passed away. At first I felt as if I was doing a service. After a time, it just became depressing.

The final straw was the woman who came to me with a snapshot. Her sons face was the size of a dime. He was a cute little boy with freckles and buck teeth and ears that stuck out. She requested that I give him a Heavenly background, an angelic smile without the buck teeth, and please pin his ears back. The heavenly terms kept coming and I knew this woman was not ready for this painting. It would not bring her son back and she would never be happy because it would not look like her son; even if I could paint it from that size of photo.

My two years of pre-law, and ten years of law office work kicked in and I drew  up a four page contract. Giving me say as to when the painting was complete.  I took the sign down and dedicated myself to painting Native Americans and Revolutionary recreationers. 

I traveled coast to coast, marketing my art work for many years.  I loved the times I exhibited at Native “Pow Wows.”   I exhibited at an inter-tribal school in Bismark, North Dakota and did some things with schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation. 

At the Bismark Pow Wow, I sat up my display and went to move the van (a normal thing for a show). When I turned around I saw a sea of cars. There was no way I was going anywhere, even if I wanted to, till the Pow Wow was over. We were treated like family. Another vendor brought us lemonade shake-ups every few hours.  We purchased typical fair food. One man had come up to my booth several times a day and stood in  companionable silence. The last day of the show, he was in his dance clothing. He took his full eagle feather headdress off and asked if we would please watch it. It was a great honor.  I was also given red-heart trade beeds by the Chieftan, and, my memory being what it is, I cannot remember his name.  But, they are my most valued piece of jewelry.

It was a wonderful weekend, sleeping in my van, going to sleep and waking to the rhythm of the drums. That is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. 

I have always had a sign on my booth. “I PAINT WITH RESPECT. Should you see me photographing in your direction and you do not wish me to, please tell me and I will make sure not to. If you do not mind, please talk to me and I will send you copies of any photos I take with you in.” People would come up and give me photos to keep and paint from. Rarely was I asked not to take a picture, but I always honored that request.

If you treat people with respect, they will treat you with respect and the world will open up for you.

 

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I did it!! And,  it didn’t even take two years. I changed my banner. These are three of my paintings.

The middle pastel is of a lady I saw in Seattle. I used to travel across the U.S. to place my art in galleries, exhibit at sales and enter art competitions.

While I was in Seattle, many years ago, I went to the mall for lunch. While I was there, a dance for senior citizens started on the main floor. As I watched from the balcony, I became entranced by this lady. I went downstairs to talk to her and she was just as enchanting close up. She loved life and it showed. She allowed me to photograph her and I promised to send her copies of the photos, but somewhere on the trip home, I lost her address.  I’ve always felt bad that I didn’t get her copies because she is just so beautiful.

The work on the left is an oil painting I created many years ago. It’s of a dear friend of mine from northern Indiana, Gerrie Govert. She is a wonderful painter, teacher and friend. Another student of hers took the photo but gave me permission to paint from it. People continually ask if it’s a self-portrait.

The photo on the right is of a woman doing quill work at a Revolutionary war recreation.  Much of my subject matter came from the Native American community and re-enactors. I loved to exhibit at Pow Wows. I had a permanent sign for my both that said, “I paint with respect.”  The Sandos, from the east, were particularly interesting and I have painted grandfather, father, son and daughter.

My second sign read: ‘If you see me photographing and you do not wish me to, please let me know and I will be careful not to include you. If you do not mind my photographing, please give me your name and address and I will send you a copy of any photos of your family.’

My favorite thing was to go to sleep to the sound of the drums. It is a part of the leaves rustling in the trees and the whisper of voices on the wind.

I love living in a tent. I do not normally do much cooking but love cooking over the open fire, with simple main ingrediants. The other benefit of the fire is sitting around the campfire at night.  We had a friend who played guitar and knew every Jim Croce song.  

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