Rick Bartow: The Bear's Song

1 December 2021 - 29 January 2022

Rick Bartow (1946 - 2016) - a lifelong Oregonian, a Vietnam Veteran, and an enrolled member of the Mad River Band of Wiyot Indians - continues to garner recognition as a leading voice in contemporary Native American art. His work is held in over 100 public collections and has been the subject of over 100 solo exhibitions at museums and galleries.

The Bear's Song is a selection of acrylic paintings, pastel drawings, prints, and carved wood sculpture that spans the artist's prolific career. Here, his imagery is centered around bears, which Bartow once called "a symbol for protective motherhood and a symbol of medicine and ancient doctoring," as well as masks, which he recognized as powerful objects, not to be approached, worn, or represented without great care and intention. Present, too, are birds, his constant interlocutors, and horned bull men, as well as a small, early self-portrait with green eyeglasses and a red nose, ringed in brushstrokes of opaque black.

Bartow's presence endures. His disarming ability to communicate, to touch the viewer - to lay bare his joyous, contemplative, humorous or traumatized aspects - courses throughout his compositions. It lives in his carved revelation of a face in a piece of wood; in his minimal articulation of wings or a torso in a few dense, continuous strokes; in the emergence of a knowing, penetrating eye from a whirlwind of color, in the tracing or impression of his own hand.

Froelick Gallery remains committed, as ever, to Rick Bartow and his legacy through our ongoing efforts in concert with the Richard E. Bartow Trusts to ensure his works continue to be widely seen and placed in museum, public and private collections.