Four Oklahoma artists are among 85 chosen for a traveling exhibit, and they’re all from Tahlequah: Tony Tiger, Troy Jackson, David Pruitt and Stephen Wood.
As the icing on the cake, Jackson’s sculpture is the cover art on the exhibition reception invitation, and Pruitt was chosen as one of three featured demonstrating exhibitors.
“Changing Hands: Art Without Reservations 3” will be on display at the Museum of Arts and Design, June 26 through Oct. 21. Its eight-venue, 3-1/2-year journey includes the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, N.Y.; the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario, Canada; the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, N.M.; The University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor, Mich.; and the culmination of the tour in January 2012 at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, Ind.
David Pruitt and his wife, Sandra, are potters for Cherokee Pottery Studio, which they own. They’ll both be traveling Saturday to New York, and plan to take in a little sightseeing while there.
“I’m honored to be invited to go, privileged and a little bit nervous,” Pruitt said. “They’re furnishing me a studio for one day, and I’m shipping three or four extra pieces up there.”
His exhibit piece, “Hands of the Real People, Past, Present and Future,” was already shipped to the museum.
“I’ll be making a lot of contacts; we’ll have a ‘meet-and-greet the artist,’” Pruitt said. “I’m excited about going and hope to sell some art with the recognition that we’ll all four be receiving.”
The anticipation has been great, said Sandra.
“We’ve known about it for a year,” she said. “I’m really proud there are four people picked from here. It’s exciting, it’s an honor, it’s awesome!”
The studio David will be using is on the sixth floor of the museum. They’ll be taking a portfolio, and they made a PowerPoint slide show to run while he’s working.
“He’ll be demonstrating the behind-the-scenes making of pottery before the show,” Sandra said.
It’s Sandra’s first time to fly, and to go to New York City. She plans to visit Ground Zero and take lots of pictures.
Troy Jackson teaches 3D Art at Bacone College. His exhibition piece that is also on the cover of the invitation is called, “Putting the Pieces Together.”
“It represents the diversity of two cultures, white and Native American, and how I, being of both, keep these two cultures together,” Jackson said.
That work also won Best of Show at the Trail of Tears Art Show at the Cherokee Heritage Center for 2011.
“I like to fell over when I got invited to be in the traveling exhibition,” Jackson said. “I consider it a great honor and the highlight of my career. It’s a big deal!”
He was even more surprised by the invitation when he opened it and saw his sculpture in the front of the card.
“Just to go to New York with this show is beyond my comprehension, then to see my sculpture on the post card? It’s just a great thing to happen to me,” he said.
The idea of visiting with the other artists and people from the East appeals to Jackson.
“It’ll be interesting to see the reactions to our work and to see what directions our work takes after this experience,” he said.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is on his must-see list.
“It has 12 acres of art, from Egyptian to contemporary,” Jackson said. “You could spend a week or more just in there.”
It’s a lifetime opportunity to be part of an exhibit opening in New York, Stephen Wood said. A full-time artist, he works in pottery, painting and glass-blowing. He also has four paintings in a group exhibit opening next week in Russia at the Ekaterinburg Museum.
“A Song of Creation” is his 3-foot-tall pottery piece in the traveling exhibit.
“It’s a dream to have an opening in New York – hopefully not my last,” Wood said. “I saw one of the earlier ‘Changing Hands’ exhibits. It’s a prestigious show and I know what caliber of artist they are, so it’s an honor to be among those ranks.”
It’s not his first museum show. He travels quite a bit and likes to check out the food wherever he is. He was doing a one-man show in Santa Fe at the Wheelwright Museum and was part of a group show in Phoenix, where the Russian curator found him.
“I’m excited to have a show in New York and Russia at the same time,” Wood said.
Tony Tiger, director of art at Bacone College, was hanging a show this week at the institution. He’s also a professional artist, represented by Pierson Gallery in Tulsa, and he’s the youth director at Elm Tree Baptist Church.
“I’m very honored. The exhibit will have our artwork featured with leading contemporary artists in America,” Tiger said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to educate the public about native work and how it’s changed.”
His acrylic on canvas painting, “Peace and Friendship,” was inspired by a 1700s treaty.
In the past, Tiger said, many native artists didn’t have the opportunity to study art or learn the complexities of art.
“Now we have the opportunity in our time to express ourselves with all the tools and information about how to create art,” he said. “And we have the understanding that we can express ourselves as native people in new ways.”
He said artists can get bogged down with the idea of selling their work.
“But it’s about expressing one’s art in one’s time, and that’s what we’re able to do: Record our time as native artists in the 21st century, and we get to do it on a national and international stage,” Tiger said. “In the past, native artists didn’t understand the process of building a career, but now we’re curating exhibitions, writing articles and proposals and organizing as groups to discuss art and what’s going on in artists’ careers.”
Today, he and Bob Martin are going to the Sequoyah National Research Center at Little Rock, where Martin is curating an exhibition.
While Tiger has traveled to every state except Hawaii, he hasn’t been to New York City.
“It’ll be a fairly quick trip; we’ll be back Tuesday night, but I’ve seen photographs of all the buildings and traffic and people. I don’t care all that much for the noise and traffic,” Tiger said. “I like Oklahoma, our lakes and rivers and fresh air.”
And he likes working with Tahlequah artists.
“It’s a blessing to work with artists like Troy and David, Bobby Martin, Roy Boney Jr., Joseph Erb and Jeff Edwards through the Southeast Indian Artists Association,” he said. “It allows artists the opportunity to collaborate and people to realize we don’t just paint horses and buffalo hunts, but do solar plate etchings and include text in art.”
It’s a very exciting time, Tiger added, because artists are working together, not just competing against one another.
“By promoting my friend, I’m promoting the art world,” he sad.
“It’s the perfect opportunity for artists to publicly visualize what is happening today and what people will see about us, our culture, in 100 years,” he said.
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