College of Fine Arts University Art Galleries

Oscar Howe Works Inspected

Elizabeth Buschor, a Senior Works on Paper Conservator for the Midwest Art Conservation Center in Minneapolis, conducted a condition survey of all the Oscar Howe paintings in the University Art Galleries (UAG) permanent collection August 6-8, 2012. With the University Art Galleries Director, Alison Erazmus, Exhibits Preparator and Curator of Collections Amy Fill, and student worker and MFA candidate Matthew Presutti, Buschor conducted the survey by closely inspecting 100 paintings by Oscar Howe. Most of the works by Howe are casein paintings on heavy weight paper, originally made in Italy. Buschor determined which paintings needed restoration (stabilization, repair, cleaning) and which paintings are ready to be included in the Oscar Howe national traveling exhibition. According to Buschor, "Howe was a wonderful craftsman and he took great care in making stable works of art."  Most of the Howe paintings in the UAG repository are in "good to excellent" condition.

Buschor's visit and completion of a condition survey of all the Howe paintings in the UAG's repository kicks off Phase One of the Oscar Howe traveling exhibition. There are 3 phases towards the completion of the Oscar Howe national traveling exhibition. The exhibit, which will exclusively feature Oscar Howe's art, is planned to start in 2015, the 100th birthday for Oscar Howe (1915-1983) and continue for a 3 year period when the exhibit will travel coast to coast.

There is still a dearth of information and appreciation of Native Modernist art, (especially Oscar Howe's work ), in the mid-20th century, yet recent scholarship proves this is a fascinating, yet underexplored period of art history.  We, at the University Art Galleries, want this exhibition to be an integral component to the study of Native Modernism in 20th century art. But above all, the UAG has a mission to talk about the value of Oscar Howe's legacy as an educator and American Indian artist in South Dakota.

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