Featured Photo: ‘Counting the Hours’ By Rick Bartow

Featured Photo: ‘Counting the Hours’ By Rick Bartow



Rick Bartow, a member of the Mad River Band of Wiyot, walked on April 2, 2016, and had suffered two strokes before he passed. The IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts reports that those events affected his work, and it can be seen in his collection as “exciting examples of Bartow’s production since his stroke… that evidence a new freedom of scale and expression.”

Born in Oregon in 1946, Bartow was never formally trained in the arts, though his artistic nature was encouraged and he did graduate from Western Oregon University with a degree in secondary arts education in 1969. Right after that he served in Vietnam from 1969-1971, and it was demons from that war that he spent his early years in art exorcising. He says he was “twisted” after Vietnam and his art can be described as disturbing, surreal, intense, and visionary; even transformative.

His art brought him back from his struggles with those demons, alcohol abuse, and the two strokes. His work is permanently held in more than 60 public institutions including the Yale University Art Gallery in Connecticut; the Brooklyn Museum in New York; the Peabod Essex Museum in Massachusetts; the Heard Museum in Arizona; and Portland Art Museum in Oregon.

Rick Bartow: Things You Know But Cannot Explain is a major retrospective exhibition of Bartow’s work including representing 40 years of his work. It includes 120 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints.

“Rick Bartow’s work was all about relationships, how the worlds of nature, humans, and spirit connect, influence, and balance one another,” said Jill Hartz, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art executive director, who curated the exhibit. “This nearly 40-year retrospective aims to reveal the layers of Bartow’s worldview and his astonishing command of materials. It has something to say to everyone.”

It is currently on display at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico until December 31, 2016.

RELATED: Gut Wrenching Images: Rick Bartow’s ‘Things You Know But Cannot Explain’ Exhibition

This image was featured in this week’s Indian Country Today Media Network newsletter.

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