Enoch Kelly Haney show strikes artistic balance

JOHN BRANDENBURG
For The Oklahoman
Modified: May 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm •  Published: May 10, 2012
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A fine balance between painting and sculpture — in parallel to the his art and political career — is found in a show of work by Enoch Kelly Haney.

The “Touching the Past” exhibit of paintings, prints and sculpture by the Seminole and Creek artist is on view at the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum, 1400 Classen Drive.

Haney is the creator of “The Guardian” figure atop the dome of the Oklahoma State Capitol, where he served as a state representative from 1980 to 1986, and as a state senator from 1986 to 2002.

A kneeling tribal elder, armed only with a feathered rattle, doesn’t seem afraid of a serpent on a log as he teaches a boy about “Seminole Snake Medicine” in a deft acrylic painting on paper or mat board.

A ghostly newborn baby appears in the blue smoke of a log fire in front of a corn row, as three Indian men participate in a “New Life, Corn Ceremony,” in a well-handled tempera on mat board work by Haney.

Realistic, yet mythically evocative are acrylics of an owl spirit being literally released from a dying man’s body, and of a man with a snake tail, cradled in another’s arms, called “Legend of the Snake Clan.”

A stark white background gives a more modern feel to Haney’s hand tinted lithograph of a “Sac and Fox Warrior,” seen in profile, with feathers in his hair, and a red hand print on his face.

Even more modern and austere is “Preparing for the Dance,” an acrylic in which beaded moccasins, beadwork and a single feather are displayed in front of blocks of color, divided into sky and earth tones.

Rich, deep hues add to the impact of a five-color lithograph, with colored pencil and acrylic paint, of a “Night Warrior,” protected by a shield with a buffalo image.

Colorful, too, as well as more freely handled, and almost expressionistic, are his acrylics of a warrior on horseback, “Fighting Back,” and of a red, turquoise, green and purple “Buffalo at Dusk.”

A bald eagle in flight, in front of the sky and an American flag, becomes emblematic of “Democracy” and “Freedom” in two acrylics, and the same bird symbolizes a “Search for Leadership” in a third.

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