When the Rainbow Touches Down: The Artists and Stories Behind the Apache, Navajo, Rio Grande Pueblo, and Hopi Paintings in the William and Leslie Van

Tryntje Van Ness Seymour, Author, Heard Museum of Anthropology and Primiti, Other Heard Museum $35 (377p) ISBN 978-0-934351-01-0
Intrigued by the Native American easel paintings that her great-great-aunt Leslie Van Ness Denman purchased in the '20s and donated to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Seymour catalogued the collection, interviewing the surviving artists about their work, customs and religious beliefs. Abundant color reproductions here vivify the remarks of scores of painters (classified by tribe: Apache, Navajo, Rio Grande Pueblo and Hopi). Although Seymour is candid about the well-known commercial motivations behind many Native American easel paintings, she links techniques and subjects from this 20th-century genre to such longstanding artisanal traditions as basketry, ceramics, weaving and carving, and painstakingly assembles an overview of religious ceremonies (e.g., the Apaches' Gift of Changing Woman rite marking female puberty). But information of relatively minor interest--about the Denman family and the growth of its collection--is repetitious; black-and-white photographs of the Southwest are muddy and too small to impart the intended sense of majesty. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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