It was a pleasant evening in the gallery at IAIA. Cool temperatures encouraged attendees to mingle in the inviting IAIA courtyard. Jeans and polo shirts mixed with formal-skirted women and escorts in jackets-and-ties. A table of canapes satisfied any peckishness that guests brought to the event.
But the real satisfaction came from an extensive array of Scholder's lithographs, etchings and paintings, reflecting his unique view of the relationship between contemporary America and its indigenous people. According to his biography, Scholder was not raised as an Indian. He was born in Minnesota in 1937, attended high school in Pierre, South Dakota and graduated from Ashland High School in Wisconsin. Scholder's Indian heritage was one-quarter Luiseno, a Calfornia Mission tribe.
After moving to California with his family in 1957, he began an artistic journey that included numerous shows, five honorary degrees, and participation jn exhibitions around the world. Along the way, after receiving a Masters in Fine Art in 1964, he joined IAIA as Instructor in Advanced Art and Painting, where his tutelage encouraged scores of beginning Native Artists to develop their talents. He left IAIA in 1969.
But the IAIA never left him. This connection was the motivator for IAIA to mount this extraordinary retrospective of Scholder's work. Scholder passed in 2005. His artistic legacy, focusing on the national cliché' about American Indians and the guilt of the dominant culture in reference to its relationship with the land's original owners, lives on with freshness and vitality.
If you have a chance to visit the Fritz Scholder show, which runs through February 19, 2009, you will find it a stimulating view of Native American sensibilities. By the way, be sure to spend some time in the IAIA's gift shop. It is in its own right an expressive survey of the fine works of many very accomplished Native American artists.
Brought to you by Aboriginals: Art of the First Person and its allied online galleries at Native-JewelryLink, Native-PotteryLink and Zunilink.