Allan Houser (1914-1994)
silkscreen, at sight 16"x 18"
$ 3,500

     Allan Houser was known more in his latter years for his sculptures than his painting. His early training at the Santa Fe Indian School in the "Studio" with Dorothy Dunn served him well throughout his long career. In 1936 he received the Indian School’s "Arts and Crafts Award" for the best artwork produced by any artist in the school. Considering that his classmates read like a "whos-who" of mid-century (and later) Native American artists, it was really quite an honor.
     Houser’s painting was characterized by a feeling of motion and vitality, with clean, definite outlines, a flat picture plane and attention to details of costume.1 It is interesting to note that a review of the May, 1935 Museum of New Mexico "Studio" show by Frederic H. Douglas noted that "'Apache, Devil Dancers', by Allan Houser, is extraordinarily effective, both for its use of white on black and for the immense vitality of the figures".2 It was Dorothy Dunn’s belief that Houser "possessed a remarkable balance of artistic intelligence, self-assurance and industry [and] a field of knowledge of tribal custom and ceremony which he wisely incorporated… to present many aspects of Chiricahua Apache life."3 He had his first one-man show at the Museum of New Mexico in March, 1936. Again according to Dunn, "the exhibit included nineteen watercolors, virile in line and freely finished in brushwork, which set forth all aspects of Apache life in versatile manner."4
     After graduating from SFIS, in 1938 Houser joined fellow artists Gerald Nailor and Pop Chalee in setting up what was probably the first independent Native American artists studio and gallery – in Santa Fe. Houser and Nailor worked on the murals for the new Department of the Interior building in Wash. D.C. and Houser’s work appeared in 1939 at both the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco and the New York World’s Fair. In 1939 Houser returned to Oklahoma to attend the Indian Art Center at Fort Sill, where he studied mural painting with Olaf Nordmark. Eventually, in 1951, he began teaching art, first in Brigham City, Utah and from 1962 to 1976 at the IAIA in Santa Fe, where he completed his teaching career as head of the sculpture department.
     Our current offering of Houser’s work is a silk–screen, possibly based on the two offered by Tewa Enterprises in 1951: left- and right-facing views of single Gaan, or Crown, Dancers. One might almost consider it a "signature" work by Houser.
     Untitled (Two Gaan, or Crown, Dancers at a fire w/two women observing), silk-screen on bluish-green paper, at sight 16" x 18", conservation–backed and matted, signed and dated (copyright) 1952, lower right, $ 3,500


Dunn, Dorothy, American Indian Painting of the Southwest and Plains Areas, Santa Fe, Univ of N. Mex. Press, 1968

Tanner, Clara Lee. Southwest Indian Painting, A Changing Art, Tucson, Univ of Ariz. Press, 1973

Bernstein, Bruce and Rushing, W. Jackson. Modern by Tradition: American Indian Painting in the Studio Style, Santa Fe, Museum of New Mexico Press, 1995

Seymour, Tryntje Van Ness. Where the Rainbow Touches Down, The Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ 1988

1 Tanner, p. 412
2 Dunn, p. 282
3 Dunn, p. 305
4 Dunn, p. 311

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