The public’s interest in the unexplained is as old as Humanity itself. Every generation, as if through osmosis, embraces the paranormal—from Bigfoot to “Nessy” the Lochness Monster, to Mothman and the speculated alien crash in Roswell, New Mexico. These are the stories that titillate and give us reason to believe and propagate the existence of these cultural legends.
In a refreshing departure from typical contemporary Native American art fare that many aficionados have come to expect in the Santa Fe art scene, rising legends themselves, Frank Buffalo Hyde and Ryan Singer, have shifted the focus of their work to celebrate figures deep-rooted in crypto zoology and the paranormal, which science has yet to explain. The result is a new show, which opens at Legends Santa Fe Gallery on June 3. Aptly titled Para-Native Activity, Frank Buffalo Hyde describes the exhibition as “contemporary work by visual artists who happen to be Native American.” Initially, Legends Santa Fe planned to host two separate shows for each of its featured artists, but when a conversation took place in which both Buffalo Hyde and Singer realized they shared a passion for the same subject matter, it seemed natural to team up for a joint exhibition.
The seed for this show began two years ago when Buffalo Hyde mounted a similar show in Santa Fe that received a great deal of press and drew a wide variety of collectors, including great minds from the scientific community who were obsessed with all things paranormal. The artists are hopeful that the public’s ongoing fascination with the unexplained will also elicit a strong response for Para-Native Activity. Buffalo Hyde’s connection to all things unexplained runs just as deep.
“As a child, I was always fascinated by this stuff,” said Buffalo Hyde. “It is has been a lifelong hobby of mine to keep up with all the developments in the paranormal world—tracking progress on the hunt for Bigfoot and other figures such as the mysterious soul called Mothman, who pops up to warn people about impending doom.”
Though, preoccupied with a whole different roster of the strange and scientifically unproven, Singer shared the same enthusiasm as Buffalo Hyde while a young boy.
“As a child, I was always captivated by the paranormal. It plagued my nightmares and consumed my daytime fantasies,” says Ryan Singer. “Everything fantastic and unexplained always made me wonder if humans know and understand everything. This show has given me the opportunity to explore those childhood fantasies and dreams.”
Buffalo Hyde and Singer alike are thrilled to be creating works in which they are able to express themselves without being conscious of their Native American identities. Both agree that Native artists expel so much energy trying to add distance between them and the label of contemporary Native American artist, but as the title suggests Para-Native Activity (“Rising above all that is Native”) none of that context is relevant for this work.
Para-Native Activity will feature pieces by Buffalo Hyde that are more streamlined than the rest of his body of work. Gone will be the busy nature of varied themes and the focal point will be the iconic subjects themselves—“cool, scary and unsettling,” according to Buffalo Hyde. His paintings will merely pay honest homage to the mythical legends that inspire our culture.
Singer’s contributions to the exhibit will include ghosts, the Chupacabra, the Cracken, aliens, UFOs and even the Thunderbird, a Southwest icon. Singer is especially influenced by contemporary non-Native American artists, as well as pop art and works by the masters. Each piece will have its own style and speak for itself. Singer, accustomed to working with bright and bold colors has taken on the challenge of capturing the doom and gloom of the paranormal using a subdued and limited color palette.
Para-Native Activity opens at Legends Santa Fe Gallery on Friday, June 3 with a reception from 5:00 p.m. to 7 p.m. The show runs through June 27. Legends Santa Fe is located 125 Lincoln Avenue Santa Fe. For more information, call 505.983.5639 or visit the gallery online at http://www.legendssantafe.com./