PAST IS PRESENT | DON BAILEY

PAST IS PRESENT | DON BAILEY

MAY 3 – JUNE 30, 2024 | A. N. BUSH GALLERY

OPENING RECEPTION: FRIDAY, MAY 3 FROM 5:30-7:30 PM

In my native Hoopa language, kiwhliw means “he who paints.”  First and foremost, I am a painter.  I create complex, richly colorful compositions.  I am also Native American, born on the Hoopa Valley Reservation in Northern California.  Indian Land, where the past is always present,  is where my paintings begin. 

As a young child I drew the stories I could see in my Hoopa Valley landscape and the stories of our ancestors as  told to me by my elders.  When my family moved off the reservation and I first attended the white man’s school, I began to hear stories others tell about Native People.  In the years that followed, I was drawn to new and varied stories: stories sung by Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Gil Scott Heron; stories told by Native activists; and stories painted by T. C. Canon, Paul Gaugin, Vincent van Gogh, and Larry Rivers. 

The paintings and mixed media pieces in this show contain elements of all these stories.

DON BAILEY :: KIWHLIW

In his native Hoopa language, kiwhliw means “he who paints.”  First and foremost, Don Bailey is a painter, known for his complex, richly colorful compositions.  He is also Native American, raised on the Hoopa Valley Reservation in Northern California.  A graduate of Western Oregon University and the University of Oregon, Bailey taught for 40 years at Chemawa Indian School, the oldest continually operating federal boarding  school for Native students in America

Bailey’s work often begins with an archival photograph of Native Americans, typically one the photographer intended as a “document of a vanishing race.”   He  recontextualizies the often static, sometimes staged portrait with layers of color, traditional native design, images from contemporary popular culture, references to the work of other artists, and landscapes real and imagined.   In doing so, Bailey shakes up old (mis)understandings of (indian) art and history.

Bailey’s work has been featured on the Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) television show Art Beat, in the Sasse Museum of Art (Pomona, CA) publication Native American Artists,  and on the Portland Streetcar.  His work is in the collection of the Hallie Ford Museum (Salem, Oregon), the State Library of Oregon (Salem, Oregon), the Mayor’s Office (Portland, Oregon),  RB Ravens Gallery (Ranchos de Taos, NM), the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM), and private collections. He is a member of Blackfish Gallery, an artist owned and operated gallery in Portland’s Pearl District, and works out of his studio in Portland, Oregon.

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