say this for the smallest pieces to the largest, each one is important.
Each one has a message. I hope this message connects with you."
local friends of Kingsley "King" Kuka, who died of a stroke
last week in Great Falls, remember the Blackfeet artist as a risk-taking,
generous, thoughtful and genuine man.
Kettman, owner of the Ghost Art Gallery, said whenever a tourist
would ask who he had for the American Indian arts, he always mentioned
was a quiet man, but big and imposing," said Kettman. "He's
a real good seller, but not a real sales person he was non-intimidating."
Ghost Art Gallery has on display several copies of Kuka's work known
as Kukagraphs.' The mixed-media pieces include water colors
with embossed and de-bossed pictures.
permanent collection remains at the Montana State Historical Society.
Prior to the Ghost Art Gallery, Kuka's work could be found at the
former Cason Gallery in downtown Helena. In addition, Kuka's artwork
can be found in other countries, as well as in the Vatican.
said the Ghost Art Gallery has been showing his work since 1996.
last show he had here was in May of last year," he said.
was born and raised on the Blackfeet Reservation. He and his wife,
Marietta, raised five children.
began his art career at the Institute of American Indian Art in
Santa Fe in 1962. Back then, the IAIA was first established as a
high school. Then in 1974, the school became a two-year program
and a certificate program, said Marita Hines, IAIA alumni and employee.
graduated in 1965. His first work was completed while he attended
high school at IAIA," said Hines.
IAIA, Kuka taught art at Helena Junior High during the 1973-74 school
then earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Montana.
said Kuka first started working in oil, pencil, ink, and pastel.
in life he worked with print making, monotypes, bronzes and sculptures,
and finally lithographs," she said.
2003, among his many activities, Kuka participated in IAIA's annual
show and sale benefit.
was prolific; always very giving and helped the school," said
Swaney, director of the American Indian/Minority Achievement, said
she remembered Kuka for his generosity also.
needed some art work for a document, and called him to see if he
might have something we could use," said Swaney.
Swaney said she never met Kuka face-to-face, Kuka dropped off his
portfolio and a note saying that she could use whatever she wanted
without charging a cent.
think he was a wonderful man, I loved his art work," she said.
work was also found at the annual C.M. Russell Art Auction and is
held in galleries in New York, Germany and the Netherlands.
the 1995 issue of Sante Fe's Focus Magazine, Kuka said, "Allen
Houser said he felt I'd be successful, because I'm a risk taker.
I'm constantly experimenting."
Kuka's artwork seemed to demonstrate an inner sense of spirituality,
he also stayed close to his cultural roots.
people, known to themselves as the Pikuni, the Kainah, the Siksika,
and collectively as the Peigan, had a super rich culture,"
he said in 2001.
said his goal in his artwork was to preserve what he could of the
great culture in bits and pieces called Kukagraphs as well as through
his original paintings and sculptures.
has received awards in every category of art and several in literature,
and is recognized for creating Kukagraph. He is highly recognized
in the United States and throughout the world for his own individual
style and abilities to work in watercolors, oils, bronze, steel,
silver, the various printing processes, and his dedication to his
was also a partner of Prairie Productions, located in Great Falls,
which is an art business.