LA VALLEUR COMMUNICATES: Musings By Barbara La Valleur — MIA: Native American Exhibit

Last week, we went to “Delacroix’a Influence: The Rise of Modern Art from Cézanne to van Gogh”: at MIA [pronounced mee-a], previously known as the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

It was an extraordinary exhibit. To quote The Wall Street Journal, which said it best, “As one moves through the exhibition, the breadth of Delacroix’s imagination and authority becomes inescapable.”

I had no idea of his vast influence on Cézanne, van Gogh, Gauguin, Renoir, Degas and pretty much any artist who came after him. The MIA brochure called Delacroix, “The engine of revolution that helped transform French painting the 19th century” and “the most revered artist in Paris” at the time of his death in 1863.

As we were leaving that exhibit Jan. 10, we walked through another exhibit on the second floor that caught my eye. It was “Native American Identity in Art,” and I knew immediately that I wanted to come back as soon as possible to see it.

I don’t know about you, but I can only take in so much at one time, and we’d already been there for two hours.

MIA is one of my favorite places to visit. It’s free. (Except for certain exhibits.) It’s full of art. It reveals our history. It’s the perfect place to take an out-of-town visitor, which is what we did today. And on a bitter cold winter day, it brings cultures from far away in time and distance in which I can lose myself in the extraordinary collections and exhibits.

Native American art, as does all things Native, holds a special place in my heart. The modest ― in size ― exhibit of three rooms takes about an hour to see. Of course, it could also take longer.

I was thrilled to see two particular artists in the exhibit. One of my favorite artists is the late George Morrison, an Anishinabe (Grand Portage Ojibwe) 1919-2000. I recognized three of his pieces from an exhibit two years ago at Fargo’s Plains Art Museum: a large rectangular colorful and intricate wooden jigsaw sculpture, his towering “Red Totem” (1977) and a painting.

And Dyani White Hawk, a Sicangu Lakota who I first met at All My Relations Gallery, a Native American art gallery at 1414 Franklin in Minneapolis. We try to take in their openings and are never disappointed. I’ve followed Dyani’s development from being the curator at All My Relations Gallery to being a fulltime artist. I also love her porcupine quills and bead work although that was not on display at MIA.

Here are photos of my favorite pieces along with the artist’s and brief description.

TIP: MIA has a great restaurant, Agra Culture, on the mezzanine and a convenient ― for meeting and just taking a break ― smaller Agra Culture location on the main level.

You can find MIA at 2400 Third Ave. S, Minneapolis MN 55404. Check out its website for hours of operation.


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