Rick Bartow was one of the Northwest’s best known artists. His powerful body of work was influenced by his Native American heritage, international travels, and fine art training. Born in Newport, Oregon, Bartow (1946-2016) was a member of the Wiyot tribe of Northern California and had close ties with the Siletz community. He graduated in 1969 from Western Oregon University with a degree in secondary arts education and served in the Vietnam War from 1969-71.
Representing almost forty years of work, Rick Bartow: Things You Know But Cannot Explain features nearly 100 sculptures, paintings, drawings, and prints, drawn from public and private collections, that affirm this extraordinary artist’s regional, national, and international impact. Personal experiences, and visual, literary, and musical sources from around the globe, informed Bartow’s art. Throughout his career, he consistently explored self-portraiture and animal imagery, often blurring the lines between the two. As he neared the end of his life, Bartow continued to create works at an impressive pace and increasingly larger scale. Rather than follow a chronological survey, this exhibition explores six themes: Gesture, Self, Dialogue, Tradition, Transformation, and New Work.
Bartow’s artwork has been featured in many solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally and is in numerous public and private collections. A career highlight was the completion of We Were Always Here, a monumental pair of sculptures over 20-feet high installed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The work was commissioned by The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
Organized by the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon
Support for the exhibition was provided by the Ford Family Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, Arlene Schnitzer, the Coeta and Donald Barker Changing Exhibitions Endowment, The Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation, a grant from the Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, the Ballinger Endowment, Philip and Sandra Piele, and JSMA members.
IMAGE: Rick Bartow, Deer Spirit for Frank LaPena, 1999, Acrylic on panel, 24 x 24 inches, Private Collection © Rick Bartow
HEADER IMAGE: Rick Bartow, Crow’s Creation V, 1992, Pastel, graphite on paper, 40 x 26 inches, Private Collection © Rick Bartow