Editorial : Recommendations
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Dan, Arlo and Michael Namingha
at The Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona
Recommendation by Deborah Ross


Continuing through January 27, 2013


It’s not uncommon in Native American families to see artistic talent pass from one generation to the next. So it is with the Namingha family, of Tewa-Hopi descent. In “Landscape, Form and Light,” Dan Namingha is showcased, a mainstay of Native American art with his dreamlike, often abstract paintings. His sons Arlo and Michael are introduced, each arriving with their own divergent style.


Spirituality and reverence for Hopi traditions run deep in Dan Namingha’s paintings and metal sculptures as well as in Arlo’s stone sculptures and bronzes. A careful decoding of the colors and shapes in use yields information about kachina spirits, oneness with nature, agricultural life and the four cardinal directions, or life stages, inherent in Hopi faith. 


Dan Namingha’s two-sided bronze sculpture “Dualities,” for instance, integrates brown and blue patinations that evoke a soothing balance between earth and sky. His oil pastel “Metamorphosis” uses Native American motifs in a narrative piece about a human-fish form. Arlo’s “Passing Clouds #2” is a meditation on stratus clouds in a triptych of bronze plaques. In his “Sun and Moon,” two geometric shapes made of Indiana limestone coalesce into one.


Michael Namingha’s works on paper and canvas, in which he plays on the word “landscape” to mean our bleak economic landscape, offer a clear contrast. “American Dream” is a simple yet effective commentary, with 10 tightly arranged white canvases, each bearing the name of a corporation involved in the worst bankruptcies in recent American history. Think: Enron, General Motors and Lehman Brothers. In “Gummy,” Michael approaches pop art with a matrix of brightly colored gummy bears treated as wallpaper on a gallery wall.

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