AZ. The Museum of Northern Arizona's new exhibit "Walking
in Harmony: The Life and Work of Lomawywesa, Michael Kabotie" opened
March 13. Kabotie (1942 2009) was a longtime friend and collaborator
at MNA. This exhibit of Kabotie's innovative, reflective and spiritual
paintings, prints, jewelry and poetry runs through Sept. 12.
friend and exhibit curator Dr. Kelley Hays-Gilpin, MNA's Edward
Bridge Danson Jr. chair of anthropology said, "Artist, poet, 'mythical
archaeologist,' ritual clown, and trickster Michael Kabotie
explored the journeys of humankind by playfully meshing his own
Hopi traditions with myth and imagery from around the world."
Director Robert Breunig, another close Kabotie friend added, "Mike's
Hopi name, Lomawywesa (LOH-ma-wy-wee-sah) means 'walking in harmony.'
We thought that was a perfect name for the exhibit, as the struggle
to find the center, to find harmony, was the central theme of his
public display for the first time will be two large triptychs Kabotie
and Delbridge Honanie painted together at the museum in 2002 when
they were artists-in-residence. "Pottery Mound: Germination" and
"Pottery Mound: The Meeting of the Agricultural and Hunter-Warrior
Cultures" are based on ancient kiva murals from an ancestral Pueblo
site near Albuquerque.
enjoyed bringing together his own Hopi traditions with those of
other world cultures, and often collaborated with archaeologists
and artists to explore the synergistic connections among spiritual
archetypes far flung in time and space. The exhibit will include
two pieces from Kabotie's Hopi/Celtic Connections series, in which
he and Jean-Jacques Dauben painted intertwining serpents from Hopi
and European traditions.
exhibit will also include some of the finest examples of Kabotie's
silver and gold jewelry, as well as his tools and sketches. In his
jewelry he used the same dynamic motion and symbolism as in his
paintings, with the added dimension of layers of metal forged together.
in Harmony" has a personal focus. It is not just about his art,
but also about this philosophical artist, his family and his Hopi
community. The exhibit includes watercolor paintings of katsinas,
buffalo dancers, and Hopi basket dancers by Mike's father, Fred
Kabotie, who taught painting and silversmithing in Hopi schools
and whose mural paintings can be viewed at the Watchtower and Bright
Angel Lodge at the Grand Canyon.
Kabotie is one of the artists responsible for developing the trademark
overlay methods in the '40s and '50s that are used today by many
Hopi jewelers. Michael used these same overlay techniques, however
his style and designs were distinctly his own. His mother Alice
was an accomplished basket weaver and two woven plaques by her will
Kabotie, Michael's third son, an artist and musician said, "Although
my father is best known for his paintings and silverwork, I believe
that his greatest legacy is the healing journey that he both walked
and challenged others to walk. He was very open about his own trip
to the 'dark side.' In time, he chose to walk a higher road and
he truly lived up to his Hopi name, Lomawywesa, in the later years
of his life."
was in the process of designing a mural that would trace the story
of a Hopi sacred clown's journey to discover how to live in the
world, making mistakes along the way, coming to terms with the ego,
and finally coming to know the beautiful world of the katsinas or
spirit beings, who come as rain to Hopiland every year before returning
home to the San Francisco Peaks.
connected the journey of the clowns with his own struggles. His
artwork explores the depths of dysfunction and despair, the dark
unhealed side of humanity, as well as the healing that can be achieved
through humility and spirituality.
came full circle in his life," said Paul Kabotie, Michael's oldest
son and the owner of Native Art Network. "When he left this world,
he had become the man he always aspired to be. He leaves a legacy
that we, his children, will strive to perpetuate and live up to."
Kabotie was born on the Hopi Reservation and grew up in the village
of Shungopavi. He graduated from Haskell Indian School in Lawrence,
Kansas. In his junior year of school, he was invited to spend the
summer at the Southwest Indian Art Project at the University of
Arizona, with artists Fritz Scholder, Helen Hardin, Charles Loloma
and Joe Hererra (who became his lifelong friend and primary artist
studied engineering at the University of Arizona and after dropping
out of college, he had his first one-man show at the Heard Museum
and his work made the cover of Arizona Highways Magazine. In 1967,
he underwent his Hopi manhood initiation into the Wuwutsim Society
and was given his Hopi name, Lomawywesa or Walking in Harmony.
was a founding member of Artist Hopid, a group of five painters
who experimented in fresh interpretations of traditional Hopi art
forms and worked together for five years. His paintings were contemporary
interpretations, reflective of his Hopi mentors, pre-European kiva
mural painters from the ancient village of Awatovi and the Sikyatki
book of poetry, "Migration Tears: Poems about Transitions," was
published in 1987 by UCLA. He lectured across the U.S., in New Zealand,
Germany and Switzerland, and taught Hopi overlay techniques at the
Idyllwild Arts Foundation in Idyllwild, Calif. for more than 13
years. His works are in museum collections around the world, from
MNA's Fine Arts Collection to the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the British
Museum of Mankind in London, and the Gallery Calumet-Neuzzinger
Museum of Northern Arizona sits at the base of the San Francisco
Peaks in Flagstaff.
is located three miles north of downtown on Highway 180, on the
way to the Grand Canyon. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m.
5 p.m. Admission is $7 adult, $6 senior (65+), $5 student, $4 child
(7 17), and free to members. More information about MNA can
be found at www.musnaz.org.