NORMAN — Many know Allan Houser for his brilliant paintings and sculptures largely depicting Native American themes. But a new exhibit at the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is set to challenge preconceived notions on the award-winning Chiricahua Apache modern artist.
“Allan Houser Drawings: The Centennial Exhibition” opens March 8 with 100 of the artist’s never before exhibited or published drawings. Guest curator W. Jackson Rushing III said the exhibit includes 100 drawings, representing 100 years since Houser’s birth.
“There’s a lot of different things to offer people, I think, and really we felt like the whole of it would give people a view of Houser that even people who think they know his work well will be surprised by the things that they see,” said Rushing, the Adkins Presidential Professor of Art History and Mary Lou Milner Carver Chair in Native American Art at the OU School of Art and Art History.
Houser, born Allan Capron Haozous in Apache, Okla., in 1914, was raised on his family farm before attending art school in Santa Fe. His early career focused on paintings, Rushing said, and Houser quickly gained a reputation as an award-winning artist. A switch to sculpture later in his career brought further success, bringing Houser an international reputation.
In Oklahoma, Houser may best be known for his sculpture “As Long as the Waters Flow,” which was dedicated at the state Capitol in 1989, and “Sacred Rain Arrow,” which has adorned state license plates since 2008.
Towards the end of his career, Rushing said Houser went back to drawing as a means to reinvigorate his work. From 1992 to 1994, the artist was prolific in the amount of work he created before dying from cancer in 1994.
Rushing said 99 of the displayed works in OU’s exhibit come from Houser’s estate in Santa Fe, with the other one already owned by the Fred Jones.