Portland Museum of Art’s Oscar Howe exhibit opens tomorrow

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Tomorrow, the Portland Art Museum will open the first major retrospective on Yanktonai Dakota artist Oscar Howe (1915-1983). Organized in partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York, Dakota Modern: The Art of Oscar Howe will be visible until May 14, 2023.

The exhibit includes over 60 paintings by Howe, which are on loan from museums, historical institutions, and private collections (many have never been shown publicly). Historical photographs, films and graphics will provide the exhibition with background and biographical information.

“Howe is known both for his bold, modernist approach as a painter and for his advocacy of the rights of Indigenous artists to choose their own artistic paths,” the Portland Art Museum said in a press release. “In an incredibly powerful modernist portrayal of his Dakota heritage, Oscar Howe brought Native tradition to life with his use of vivid color, dynamic movement, and immaculate lines.”

The museum completes Dakota Modern with the concurrent site-specific installation They come from the fire (on view until February 23, 2023) by artist Jeffrey Gibson (Mississippi Band Choctaw). Gibson is considered an heir to the Howe legacy.

“These exhibits highlight two significant Native American artists, as well as the broad and lasting impact Oscar Howe had on modern and contemporary art,” the museum said. “Through community partnerships and public programs, the museum amplifies the contributions and perspectives of Howe and Gibson, as well as the many Native American artists and communities living and working in the Pacific Northwest.”

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