Artists celebrate new Norman collection with live demonstrations of work

Artists demonstrated their skills for live audiences during a celebration in honor of the opening of the James T. Bialac Native Art Collection at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.
by Jane Glenn Cannon Modified: September 25, 2012 at 11:02 am •  Published: September 25, 2012

Abeyta said he grew up around some of the artists featured in the Bialac collection, watching them work “and thinking they were amazing.”

Role of collectors

Art collectors become the patrons who make it possible for artists to continue their work, Abeyta said.

Collectors begin “because they are specifically moved by art, usually a piece of art they see in a museum. Then they become patrons. ... They become the catalysts for more creations. We are all connected. We all need each other,” he said.

Bialac began collecting in 1964. His collection now includes a variety of media and spans 100 years. Bialac said Sunday he didn't confine his purchases to any certain tribe, region, style or artist, but rather bought what he considered to be quality art pieces.

The collection features about 2,600 paintings and works on paper, 1,000 kachinas and 100 pieces of jewelry that represent major American Indian artists such as Fred Kabotie, Awa Tsireh, Fritz Scholder, Joe Herrera, Allan Houser, Jerome Tiger, Tonita Pena, Helen Hardin, Pablita Velarde, George Morrison, Richard “Dick” West, Patrick DesJarlait and Pop Chalee.

Their work, paired with the museum's previously donated Native and Southwest collections (the Eugene B. Adkins Collection and the Rennard Strickland Collection) provides a complete look into Native American art throughout the 20th century, said Heather Ahtone, James T. Bialac curator of Native American and non-Western art.

The combined collections have made OU an important institute to study Native American 20th century art, Ahtone said.

Also demonstrating their work Sunday were Ben Harjo, woodblock; Linda Lomahaftewa, monotype; America Meredith, watercolor; and Anita Fields, clay.

by Jane Glenn Cannon
Senior Reporter
A native of Oklahoma, Jane Glenn Cannon is an award-winning reporter who has covered everything from crime, courts and government to entertainment and features. She wrote a popular personal column for many years. She is a former associate writer...
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