WOOGEE (George) Watchetaker is a honest-to-gosh legend.
Just ask him.
An American Indian with a keen sense of humor about himself and the world around him, Watchetaker is a commanding character in his 70s who likes tell tall tales and pull your leg.
Known as everything from an accomplished painter to a fancy dancer to a time-honored Comanche chief, Watchetaker grew up in Paradise Valley near Elgin and describes himself as a "real country boy."
Nevertheless, his paintings reflect a man of tradition who follows strict, self-imposed guidelines in order to re-create the world of his American Indian ancestors through art.
"I never went to art school," Watchetaker said. "I started rough paintings off and on when I was young in the 1930s. I was inspired by other Indians' artwork.
"There were just a few Indian artists then. I never knew if I was good enough. I'd give my paintings away.
"I just kept trying and trying ... " During the 1940s, Watchetaker priced his work at $2 or $3 per painting. In the 1950s, he still dabbled in paint, but became passionate about fancy dancing.
He eventually retired in 1965 as a seven-time national and three-time world champion fancy dancer.
"I used to drink a bit and I liked to buy,' he said, "but I finally decided this ain't doing me any good. I decided I'd better do something, so I started painting seriously."
Watchetaker sneaked into an art show at Shepherd Mall in Oklahoma City with some of his art.
When an artist left his booth, Watchetaker put up his own work.
Within 30 minutes, all his paintings were sold.
Today, his artwork hangs in galleries around the world. His painting "Comanche War Dancers" is one of 12 American Indian artists featured in the "1991 American Indian Art Calendar" produced by Semihoye-Shawnee Publications.
Other artists include Jerome Bushyhead, Cheryl Davis, Ron English, Albert Harjo, Dorothy Moses, "Doc" Tate Nevaquaya, Bill Prokopiof, Bert Seabourn, Connie Seabourn, Dana Tiger and Gary White Deer.
A reception featuring the calendar will be held from 10 am. to 6 p.m. Saturday at 50 Penn Place. The reception will include music by world renowned flutist "Doc" Tate Nevaquaya and other American Indian artists.
"I like to keep the traditional costumes and the way Indians danced the different dances," Watchetaker said. "I know them because I danced them. Some artists just paint an Indian with a long blanket.
"That has no meaning. They're just pretty pictures."
Watchetaker decribes the calendar as "just wonderful."
"I just gave one to my stepson and his family," he said. "They looked at it and said, "Boy that's good!' " For information: 848-7940. BIOG: WOOGEE GEORGE WATCHETAKER, WOOGEE WATCHETAKER, GEORGE WATCHETAKER NAME:Archive ID: 450069