south dakota

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the Oscar Howe Gallery at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.  The current exhibition, Dance of the Warrior, included highly stylized images of horses, warriors and spirits rendered in pure-flat shapes of color punctuated by fluid-dashed marks.  There were some tempera paintings and a wonderful drawing on display - but for the most part the work was done in casein paint.  Unfortunately, photography isn't allowed in the gallery.  So here are some links to the gallery and to Howe's Wikipedia entry where you'll be able to see some representative images of his work.

My favorite piece of the day was "War Dancer."  It was the only purely abstract painting in the show.  The colors, the intimate size and the lyrical nature of the shapes as they interacted with one another intrigued me.  As with the others, it had both an atomic feel and a primal vibe.  The negative space all in a velvety-matte black was perhaps what first drew me to this little gem.  Deep space cradling dancing-luminous shapes made for a sweet take-home memory.

This morning I woke up and made this little painting of a cow creamer - no doubt inspired by my trek to South Dakota.

Creamer on Black; casein on mounted paper; 10" x 8"; Mary Nagel Klein


hallowed cow

Creamer in Oranges and Blues; 10" x 8"; casein on paper; 2013 Mary Nagel Klein

The cow returns.

The oranges are a nod to the cavity which took several layers of orange and blue and burnt sienna to achieve its sense of depth.  And the blues are the color of white - this time - and the color of cream - sometimes.

I love painting suspended vessels.  In addition to depicting gravity with its implied potential energy, hanging vessels also highlight the act of containment.  Exactly what they contain is often a mystery.  One might assume that a cow creamer, with its opening facing downward, contains nothing but air - a hollow hallowed cow.


jug detail

Here's a close-up of the previous post's painting - and an opportunity to see the jug a bit differently.

Water Jug and Oranges (detail); casein on paper; 27.5" x 17"; 2013 Mary Nagel Klein