Guide to the Alexander (Hartley Burr) Collection of American Indian Artwork

Finding aid created by Heather Waldroup and Russell Michalak
Ella Strong Denison Library
Scripps College
1090 Columbia Avenue
Claremont, California 91711
Phone: (909) 607-3941
Fax: (909) 607-1548
Email: denison@libraries.claremont.edu
October 2008


Descriptive Summary

Title: Hartley Burr Alexander Collection of American Indian Artwork
Dates: 1867 - 1979
Collection Number: d1943
Creator: Alexander, Hartley Burr
Extent: 4 oversized boxes.
Repository: Claremont Colleges. Library.
1090 Columbia Avenue
Claremont, California 91711
Abstract: The collection contains original works of art, primarily watercolors, from the early twentieth century. These are attributed to Awa Tsireh (San Ildefonso), "San Juanito Garcia" (unknown), Fred Kabotie (Hopi), Kills Two (Oglala Sioux), Julian Martinez (San Ildefonso), Oqwa Pi (San Ildefonso), Tonita Peña (San Ildefonso), Otis Polelonema (Hopi), Romando Vigil (San Ildefonso), and Thomas Vigil (Tesuque). The works in boxes 1-3 present a number of very fine examples of the broad aesthetic of Native American Modern painting for both Pueblo and Plains artists: they are representational, depicting flat figures with clear outlines and unadorned backgrounds, and are generally lacking in references to modern life. While primarily produced for outside audiences, the works are distinctly 'Native' in terms of their function as historical records of Indian life in the early twentieth century. The collection contains photographs of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Plains hide paintings. The works are attributed to Plains artists Katsikodi, Amos Bad Heart Buffalo, Silver Horn, and Kills Two.
Physical Location: Please consult repository.
Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to reproduce or to publish must be submitted in writing to Ella Strong Denison Library.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item.] Hartley Burr Alexander American Indian Artwork Collection. Ella Strong Denison Library, Scripps College, Claremont, California.

Acquisition Information

The Plains works were likely collected before 1938, as some of them are published in Sioux Indian Painting (Nice, FR: C. Szwedzicki). The collection dates of the Pueblo paintings are unknown, but were likely collected before 1932, when Alexander published his portfolio Pueblo Indian Painting (Nice, FR: C. Szwedzicki).

Accruals

No addition to the collection is anticipated.

Alternative Forms of Material Available

Digital collection available via The Claremont Colleges Digital Library: Pueblo and Plains Indian Watercolors - http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/col/pap/.

Processing Information

Arranged and Processed by Special Collections Staff

Biographies of the Artists

The following brief biographies refer to artists whose original works are deposited in this collection. In an attempt at consistency, names are listed and spelled as found in J.J. Brody, Pueblo Indian Painting: Tradition and Modernism in New Mexico, 1900-1930 (Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research, 1997). Researchers should be advised that artists' names (Native and/or European) and spellings may differ slightly from publication to publication.
Awa Tsireh (Alfonso Roybal) (San Ildefonso, 1898-1955) Awa Tsireh was influenced by his uncle, Crescencio Martinez, a key first-generation Native Modern artist. He received art training while at the San Ildefonso Day School, and the anthropologist Edgar Hewitt commissioned works from him. By the 1920s his work was receiving recognition on the art market. During his career he worked closely with Fred Kabotie (Hopi) as well as other San Ildefonso artists. See Molly Mullin, "Awa Tsireh," in American Indian Biographies: Revised Edition, ed. Carole Barrett and Harvey Markowitz (Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 2005).
"San Juanito Garcia" (unknown) One item in the collection is attributed to this artist. See box 3, item 5: "Drawing by San Juanito Garcia, Santo Domingo, #24." The name has been placed in quotations because no published reference to this artist has been located. The name could refer to either Jose Garcia (Santo Domingo, 1914-?) or Lorenzo Garcia (Santo Domingo, ?-?).
Fred Kabotie (Naqavoy'ma) (Hopi, 1900-1986)Fred Kabotie is a central figure in Native American Modern painting. He attended the Santa Fe Indian School c. 1920 and received art instruction from Elizabeth DeHuff, the progressively-minded wife of the superintendent. He graduated from Santa Fe High School (a non-Indian school) in 1924. As a painter, Kabotie was very successful on the art market. He also worked as an art educator, muralist, and community leader. The two examples of his work in this collection are especially compelling.
Kills Two (Oglala Sioux, 1869-1927) Kills Two, who lived on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, worked primarily in watercolor on hide and muslin. According to various sources, he was employed as a police officer on the reservation. See Patrick D. Lester, "Kills Two," Biographical Directory of Native American Painters (Tulsa, OK: Sir Publications, 1995).
Julian Martinez (Po-Ca-No) (San Ildefonso, 1897-1943) In 1904, Julian Martinez married the internationally acclaimed San Ildefonso potter, Maria (Montoya) Martinez. Through their collective pottery production (Maria building the pots, Julian decorating them), they created some of the most influential and technically astounding works of Native American Modern art. Both artists were strongly influenced by the findings of early twentieth century archaeological excavations of pre-Columbian pottery in the San Ildefonso area. As seen in the examples in the Hartley Burr Alexander Collection, Julian Martinez was also an accomplished easel painter.
Oqwa Pi (Abel Sanchez) (San Ildefonso, 1899-1971) Oqwa Pi was educated at the Santa Fe Indian School, where he painted murals in addition to working with watercolors. According to one source, he "served as lieutenant governor, and later as governor, of his pueblo" (Jeanne Snodgrass, American Indian Painters: A Biographical Directory (New York: Museum of the American Indian, 1968), 135).
Tonita Peña (San Ildefonso, 1893-1949) Peña was a major figure in the Native American Modern painting movement. She began receiving art instruction at an early age at the San Ildefonso Day School (1899-1905). In addition to working as a painter, Peña was a mother and art educator, and was employed as a muralist by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. She is primarily known for her works in watercolor, and painted domestic and dance scenes. Peña's work significantly influenced key artists of the Santa Fe school, including Pablita Velarde. See Cheryl Claassen, "Peña, Tonita," in American Indian Biographies: Revised Edition, ed. Carole Barrett and Harvey Markowitz (Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 2005).
Otis Polelonema (Hopi, 1902-1981) A contemporary of Fred Kabotie, Polelonema attended the Santa Fe Indian School from 1914-1920 and graduated from Santa Fe High School. Like Kabotie, Polelonema received art instruction from Elizabeth DeHuff, wife of the school superintendant, who encouraged the students to draw on traditional knowledge and sources in their work. He was also employed by the Works Progress Administration.
Romando Vigil (Tse Ye Mu) (San Ildefonso, 1902-1978) Sources consulted for this project were in conflict as to Romando Vigil's art training. He is described as attending the Santa Fe Indian School (The Biographical Directory of Native American Painters), where he potentially could have received art training, and as having no formal art training (Margaret Archuleta and Rennard Strickland, Shared Visions: Native American Painters and Sculptors in the Twentieth Century (New York: The New Press, 1991)). He was apparently employed for a time by the Walt Disney Studios. See Patrick D. Lester, "Vigil, Romando," Biographical Directory of Native American Painters (Tulsa, OK: Sir Publications, 1995).
Thomas (Tomas) Vigil (Pan Yo Pin) (Tesuque, c. 1889-1960) Thomas Vigil was educated at St. Catherine's School from 1904 to 1907. See Patrick D. Lester, "Vigil, Thomas," Biographical Directory of Native American Painters (Tulsa, OK: Sir Publications, 1995).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection contains original works of art, primarily watercolors, from the early twentieth century. These are attributed to Awa Tsireh (San Ildefonso), "San Juanito Garcia" (unknown), Fred Kabotie (Hopi), Kills Two (Oglala Sioux), Julian Martinez (San Ildefonso), Oqwa Pi (San Ildefonso), Tonita Peña (San Ildefonso), Otis Polelonema (Hopi), Romando Vigil (San Ildefonso), and Thomas Vigil (Tesuque). The works in boxes 1-3 present a number of very fine examples of the broad aesthetic of Native American Modern painting for both Pueblo and Plains artists: they are representational, depicting flat figures with clear outlines and unadorned backgrounds, and are generally lacking in references to modern life. While primarily produced for outside audiences, the works are distinctly 'Native' in terms of their function as historical records of Indian life in the early twentieth century. The collection contains photographs of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Plains hide paintings. The works are attributed to Plains artists Katsikodi, Amos Bad Heart Buffalo, Silver Horn, and Kills Two.

Arrangement

Series 1 American Indian Artwork.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection

Subjects

Alexander, Hartley Burr, 1873-1939
Artwork. Native Americans
Native American arts
Oglala Indians--Pictorial works
Pueblo art
Sioux art
Western Americana, 1850-1999

Genre and Form of Materials

Watercolor painting
Pen drawing
Pencil drawing
Photographs


Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Series 1 American Indian Artwork,

Box 1, folder 1-10

Pueblo Indian Artwork,

Scope and Contents

These folders contain artwork by Thomas Vigil, Awa Tsireh, Otis Polelonema, Tonita Pena, Oqwa Pi, Romando Vigil, and Julian Martinez.
Box 3, folder 1-7

Pueblo Indian Artwork,

Scope and Contents

These folders contain artwork by Thomas Vigil, San Juanito Garcia, and Fred Kabotie.
Box 2, folder 1-8

Plains Indian Artwork,

Scope and Contents

These folders contain artwork by Kills Two.
Box 4, folder 1-10

Plains Indian Artwork,

Scope and Contents

These folders contain photographs of artworks attributed to Katsikodi, Amos Bad Heart Buffalo, Silver Horn, and Kills Two.