Film captures a night with the Kiowa Five
NORMAN, Okla. – The Kiowa Five were a group of Native American artists who attended the University of Oklahoma from 1927 to 1930, under the sponsorship of Oscar Jacobson, who was then head of the art department. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, in partnership with the Jacobson House, will offer a free screening of “The Jacobson House 1930: A Theatrical Storytelling,” an original film featuring an evening in 1930 at the home of Oscar Jacobson during which the artists of the Kiowa Five were presented to guests and art patrons. The screening is free and open to the public. A question and answer period with cast members will follow.
The Kiowa Five were actually six artists in total: Spencer Asah (1905 or 1910-1954); Jack Hokeah (1902-1969); Stephen Mopope (1898-1974); and Monroe Tsatoke (1904-1937); and Lois (Bougetah) Smoky (1907-1981), the youngest and only female member of the group, who was later replaced by James Auchiah (1906-1974). The Kiowa Five’s work marked the genesis of contemporary Native art in Oklahoma, as well as Native art as a distinctly American art. They were among the first Native artists to attain national and international attention and their accomplishments helped to establish Native American art as an accepted part of the academic art world.
The film was created during a live performance held in February, 2009 at the historic Jacobson House in Norman. Native American singers, dancers and flute players dramatically recreated each of the Kiowa artists, speaking to “guests” at the Jacobson’s home about their life and their work. A multi-talented cast of singers and dancers portray the enigmatic Kiowa artists, as well as Oscar and his wife, Jeanne d’Ucel Jacobson, sharing their respective compelling stories.
The performance, conceived and directed by Russ Tallchief, was unscripted, allowing the performers to speak extemporaneously in the persona of the artists, often in the artists’ own words, which Tallchief assembled from decades of interviews, essays and newspaper articles collected from around the world.
The film version of the performance was created by filmmakers Ralph Petrosky and Deron Twohatchet (Kiowa), from video shot at each of the three live performances. Running approximately one hour and 15 minutes, the film includes commentary by the Jacobsons and each of the Kiowa artists, followed by a dance and song performance on the Jacobson House lawn. The dialogue is moved forward by Tallchief, who plays Savoie Lottinville, a young student reporter for the Oklahoma Daily, who would later become director of the University of Oklahoma Press.
The other cast members include: Andrew Phelan as Oscar Jacobson, Lieneke Mous as Jeanne d’Ucel, Maya Torralba as Lois Smokey, Oliver Plumley as Stephen Mopope, Kevin Connywerdy as Jack Hokeah, Warren Queton as James Auchiah, Robert Lincoln as Monroe Tsatoke, Marty Thurman as Spencer Asah, and Linda Coldwell as the Jacobson’s maid, Phoebe.
Additional information about the film screening is available by calling (405) 325-4712.