There is a lot of work to be done tonight. While I am not intimidated by what must get done this week, I, like any college student, am skilled in the art of procrastination.
But this counts as work too, I suppose. I’ll tell you about today.
In the morning, Jade and I went through the film of the artists we interviewed yesterday at Red Earth, jotting down the timing of each good quote. We plan to pick out some of the best parts and create a short video for the Muscarelle website to promote the exhibit. Hopefully we’ll get some more material for that later in the week.
After walking across the parking lot to Jason’s Deli for lunch, we headed back over to Tribes 131 and met with Caddo-Wichita artist Dolores Purdy Corcoran. It was so funny – right as we were admiring her contemporary ledger pieces, which were hanging on the wall, she walked up behind us and introduced herself. We spent more than an hour listening to her talk about ledger art, her own work, and other artists with work in the gallery. She describes her view of the stages of native art: She calls early ledger stage one, Kiowa Five pieces stage two, and all the later work later stages, which don’t quite flow chronologically. She told all kinds of stories about her experiences as a Caddo artist – about how she went to school for business because her parents wouldn’t pay for an art degree, and used her earnings from her two businesses to get her children through college before pursuing art. She also told a funny story about how, when she first began going to native art markets, people would say “Cay-do? I’ve never heard of that tribe.” They’re a very small tribe, admittedly, but Dolores would reply, straight-faced, “Neither have I. I just made them up.” Dolores walked us through the whole gallery, commenting on her fellow artists. She talked about the Santa Fe Native Art Market, for which she serves on the Standards Committee, and about the symbolism in her own works (Professor M-L bought a great modern ledger featuring pickup trucks for the exhibit). I scribbled down notes the whole time, but I haven’t typed them up yet – that’s another task for tonight.
We spent the rest of the afternoon discussing what requested artwork other museums have agreed to let us borrow for the exhibit. We’re getting a lot less than I expected, but Dr. Gorman says we actually have more than we need. Once we know absolutely everything that we can have, we’re going to have to eliminate some. In the next week we also have to do things like pick paint colors for the walls, decide where each piece will go, and finalize (more or less) our writings for the catalogue and press release and docents guide. It’s going to be a lot of work, and our schedules get crazy for the rest of the week, but I think we can handle it.
Here’s the upcoming schedule:
Monday (tomorrow): Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
Tuesday: Fred Jones Museum, Jacobson House, meeting with Tom Poolaw, Sam Noble Museum
Wednesday: Anadarko, Oklahoma (where the Kiowa tribe is centered, and where there are fabulous Kiowa Five murals)
Thursday: Open Day (we may actually go to Anadarko this day, or else go back to Fred Jones or the Jacobson House or Sam Noble)
Friday: Lawton and Fort Sill (we return to Dallas that evening)
Saturday: fly home
So we’re pretty much booked for the week, which is both exciting and intimidating. We had a lot of down time today, to write and talk and rest. That won’t be true of the rest of this trip.
Tonight we had dinner at a very good Mexican restaurant, where we met one of Professor M-L’s friends, Dr. Patricia Gilman, an archaeologist at the University of Oklahoma. This was especially amazing for me because Dr. Gilman is a Mimbres expert – she knows Professor Roth, who’s heading the field school I’m starting on the 15th, and she’s been to the site I’ll be working at. She told me about the field cooking, the heat, the best place to eat in Silver City, and all kinds of other things. And she said there aren’t scorpions, which is a relief. Anyway, that was a very exciting dinner.
Okay. Now it’s time to get to work. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say tomorrow after spending the whole day at the Cowboy Museum – and hopefully more pictures, too.
ADDITION (as of 11:07 p.m.) – Here are some of the best quotes from our meeting with Dolores Purdy Corcoran (the transcript of which I have just completed!):
“I do prison art, but I haven’t been to prison yet.”
“I’m trying to make it happy art, because it should be something you want to have in your home. Yet it’s still something where people can look at it and relive it. And ledger art, it’s like there are 2 stories on top of each other.”
“The Caddo had a ‘turkey dance,’ but we called it that to hide what it really was. The entire time, they’re pretending to be turkeys, but they’re singing about how so-and-so killed so-and-so. The women were singing this, but they didn’t want the army to know. And then the guys would come in, and eat, and sing more.”
“What is art? – that’s one of the things we’re determining in the art market – how far back is traditional? That’s one of the interesting things about art – it’s different depending on the perspective. To me, the calendar counts are art, even though they had a utilitarian purpose.”
“I think a lot of the art that’s in here, it’s for preserving our history. If it goes to a non-native home, they can pass on the story. It’s like another form of oral history. I think it’s important to get our history out to non-natives. Because it’s just a whole different culture.”
“For the exhibit, make sure people understand the sophistication put into this work – they made entire scenes with just red, yellow, and black. If they look at the composition colors – it’s kind of folk artish, but also not – it’s like being put on Mars and trying to draw it.”
And if you don’t know what words like “ledger,” “counts,” and “Caddo,” mean….well, that’s just an indication that you ought to see our exhibit in the fall! Yep, it’s shameless plug time: “Within the Reach of Memory Still”: A Kiowa Legacy in Art will be featured on the lower level of the Muscarelle Museum at William & Mary from September 9th until November 15th.