Art News

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Honors Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

artwork: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith - "The Environment: Trees are Burning", 1991 - Pastel on paper - 30" x 42" - Courtesy of LewAllen Contemporary. On view at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe in "Jaune Quick-To-See Smith: Landscapes of an American Modernist" until April 29th.

Santa Fe, New Mexico.- The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is pleased to honor Jaune Quick-to-See Smith as a Living Artist of Distinction, and is presenting the exhibition “Jaune Quick-To-See Smith: Landscapes of an American Modernist” through April 29th. Smith is an enrolled Sqelix’u (Salish) member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation and is one of the best-known Native America artists of the late twentieth century. Smith distinguishes herself as a modernist in both her pursuit of abstraction and her expressive technique in oil paint, pastel, and printmaking. The Living Artists of Distinction series began in 2000 to fulfill an important part of the museum’s mission to define the “ongoing significance” of Georgia O’Keeffe’s legacy.

Artists are selected for this honor because their work expresses the modernist principles that O’Keeffe and other members of the Alfred Stieglitz circle espoused in the first decades of the twentieth century, and because they have achieved positions of prominence in American art. Smith, who has lived and worked in New Mexico since 1976, is the first Native American artist to be recognized in the series. Like Georgia O’Keeffe, Smith embraced her new environment and began painting landscapes that express a deeply personal sense of place and connection to the land of New Mexico. But while O’Keeffe focused her attention on the timeless uninhabited landscapes of her adopted home, Smith’s “inhabited landscapes” express the human conflict marked on the land. The exhibition will focus on Smith’s inhabited landscapes, in which she joins modernist color and techniques with her unique visual vocabulary of figures. Describing her artistic strategy, Smith explains, “My life’s work involves examining contemporary life in America and interpreting it through Native ideology.”

artwork: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith - "Sunset on the Escarpment", 1987 Oil on canvas - 72" x 60" - Collection of Dorothee Peiper-Riegraf. On view at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NM

Carolyn Kastner, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Associate Curator, has organized this exhibition to include both oil paintings and works on paper from two of Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s most powerful series. She says, “Smith contributes to American modernism by drawing upon her complex cultural heritage—both Native and non-Native—to expand the definitions of ‘American’ and ‘modernist’ art.” Smith began the Petroglyph Park Series just five years after she earned her MA in art from the University of New Mexico. The series visualizes the contested lands along the Río Grande River, west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The intensely worked oil paintings were created by Smith between 1985 and 1987, when the ancient petroglyphs on the steep volcanic cliffs, near the artist’s home, were threatened by a suburban housing development. The series established Smith’s artistic voice in the lineage of American landscape painting. Her brilliant color, compositional style, and gestural layers of paint, ground Smith’s painting in modern abstraction, even as she extends the tradition with her unique visual vocabulary of plants, animals and humans.

By 1989, Smith began to work in a postmodern technique using found materials, text, and images in a series named for Chief Seattle, whose eloquent speech of 1854 is still remembered as an ecological prophecy. Seattle’s words invoke the spirit of the land and its inseparability from its inhabitants. Smith’s pastels from that period create a sense of urgency with beautiful but threatening images of the polluted landscape of the late twentieth century. Like Georgia O’Keeffe, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s personal and passionate attachment to New Mexico has transformed American art and our vision of the landscape. “This exhibition is the first of many upcoming exhibitions to recognize the diverse expressions of Modernism. We are proud to include the work of Hopi artists Ramona Sakiestewa and Dan Namingha in our exhibition Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsinam, and the Land, which will open in 2013. We will be showing their abstract artwork, inspired by Hopi Katsinam, with O’Keeffe’s paintings and drawings of Hopi katsina tithu (katsina dolls),” says Kastner.

artwork: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith - "Herding", 1985 - Oil on canvas - 66" x 84" Collection of the Albuquerque Museum. On view at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NM in "Jaune Quick-To-See Smith until April 29th.

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, opened to the public in July 1997, eleven years after the death of the artist from whom it takes its name. Welcoming more than 2,225,000 visitors from all over the world and being the most visited art museum in the state of New Mexico, it is the only museum in the world dedicated to an internationally known American woman artist. One of the most significant artists of the 20th century, Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was devoted to creating imagery that expressed what she called “the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it.” She was a leading member of the Stieglitz Circle artists, headed by Alfred Stieglitz, America’s first advocate of modern art in America. These avant-garde artists began to flourish in New York in the 1910s. O’Keeffe’s images—instantly recognizable as her own —include abstractions, large-scale depictions of flowers, leaves, rocks, shells, bones and other natural forms, New York cityscapes and paintings of the unusual shapes and colors of architectural and landscape forms of northern New Mexico. The Museum’s collection of over 3,000 works comprises 1,149 O’Keeffe paintings, drawings, and sculptures that date from 1901 to 1984, the year failing eyesight forced O’Keeffe into retirement. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is the largest single repository of O’Keeffe’s work in the world. Throughout the year, visitors can see a changing selection of these works. In addition, the Museum presents special exhibitions that are either devoted entirely to O’Keeffe’s work or combine examples of her art with works by her American modernist contemporaries.  The Museum also organizes exhibitions of works by her contemporaries, as well as by living artists of distinction.

Over 140 artists other than O’Keeffe have been exhibited at the Museum, such as Arthur Dove, Sherrie Levine, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center opened in July 2001 as a component of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. As the only museum-related research facility in the world dedicated to the study of American Modernism (late nineteenth century – present), it sponsors research in the fields of art history, architectural history and design, literature, music and photography.  Its annual, competitive stipend program awards six stipends to qualified applicants who can spend three to twelve months at the Research Center, which makes its library, collections and unique archives accessible to researchers worldwide as well as to its in-house scholars. The Museum and its Research Center are both Pueblo Revival-style buildings located two blocks from the historic Santa Fe Plaza and were renovated in 1997 and 2001, respectively, by Gluckman Mayner Architects, New York. Visit the museum’s website at …