What I find fun about going to art shows is that there is always an opportunity to connect with artists who are new to my art lexicon--I'm constantly learning and I love it! What's more amazing is that many of these artists have had lifelong, high-profile careers, and when you first meet them, you'd never know. Some are as humble as they day they entered the marketplace. That's always refreshing.
One such artist is Benjamin Harjo, Jr. Having spent almost a half of a century training and working as a master of pen and ink, a painter and block print maker, Harjo is one of the most recognizable and respected artists working in Native American fine art. His work has graced posters, is housed in museums, and exists in private collections all over the world. None of this, however, has gone to his head. Harjo understands the ebbs and flows of the art world and "the abuse" that artists take when it comes to selling their work. Luckily, he has cultivated a loyal group of friends and regular collectors who find inspiration in his art and want to see him flourish. Whereas, many visual artists don't attend "booth" shows such as the Heard Museum Guild's Indian Fair and Market, Harjo consistently participates in them. The season runs from March to November, so he is always busy. That's when he's not working on a commission. He contends that some years the shows will be good for him, and other years it will be good for other artists. It's just the way things are.
Tonight, Benjamin Harjo, Jr. opens in a group show at the Heard Museum's Berlin Gallery entitled Layers: Sarah Sense + Frank Buffalo Hyde + Benjamin Harjo, Jr. While his counterparts in the show are considerably younger, they are also edgy and hip. The inclusion of his work is a testament to the agelessness of Harjo's paintings and drawings. The exhibition, which runs through May 16, highlights works by the three artists that "reveal the layering of either ideas or processes to create their own unique vision, the end result multi-layered works that explore new territories of definition."
Ironically, and completely unaware of the upcoming exhibition at the Heard's Berlin Gallery, I had the opportunity to interview Harjo last month for my "Heard @ the Heard 2011" series at the 53rd Annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market. So, it makes complete sense that things come full circle and I end my series with this iconic master artist, who talked to me about his award-winning Heard submission piece as well as his influences, on the day of his opening!
Watch the video interview with Benjamin Harjo, Jr. HERE: