Catch 22 Reception, Ralph T. Coe

Eliza Naranjo Morse

Eliza Naranjo Morse (Santa Clara), “A La Machina,” 2010, etching with phosphorus

Catch 22: Paradox on Paper reception at the Ralph T. Coe Foundation for the Arts was a wonderful way to launch Indian Market week! The Ralph T. Coe Foundation is a nonprofit organization that manages the art collection of the Ralph T. Coe, which includes exceptional examples of historic Oceanic, African, and Native American art.

Led by President/CEO Rachel Wixom, the unique organization—a collection sans museum—is in the business of making connections. They have invited guest curators—as young as high school students—to work with their collection—and also partnering with museums to showcase the collection, as they did with Connoisseurship and Good Pie: Ted Coe and Collecting Native Art at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.

Catch 22: Paradox on Paper exemplified these partnerships. Guest curator Nina Sanders (Apsáalooke) selected works on papers from the collection of Edward J. “Edd” Guarino to showcase late modern, post-modern, and contemporary Native American art. Guarino writes, “One of the most exciting aspects of collecting the work of contemporary artists is that I am able to ask them questions about their work.” Curator Sanders’ research focus is Plains beadwork; however, she focused on works on paper to pursue the show’s theme, Catch 22, coined by novelist Joseph Heller, to describe a double-bind paradox, but in this case described the contradiction of maintaining or fighting to regain one’s tribal heritage while negotiating global mainstream culture that is poised at every turn to destroy tribal identity in favor of the lone individual.

Edd Guarino

Collect Edward J. Guarino

Another paradox emerges in the works: correcting a sense of density and depth on the two-dimensional picture plane. Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Iñupiaq-Athabascan) and Anita Fields (Osage-Muscogee), both known primarily for their sculptures, achieve incredible textures and sense of mass in their works on paper. Christine Nofchissey McHorse (Navajo) is known for her ceramic and metal sculptures, but the public has fallen in love with her flat sketches revealing developing thoughts in the process. Meanwhile, earlier artists T. C. Cannon (Kiowa-Caddo, 1946–1978) and Charles Loloma (Hopi, 1921–1991) celebrate the flatness and sparseness of flat art, with stripped-down abstractions in drawing and etching, respectively. Sarah Sense (Chitimacha-Choctaw) and Shan Goshorn (Eastern Band Cherokee) both independently began weaving their photographs; Sense’s into flat mats and Goshorn’s into three-dimensional basketry forms, subverting the flatness of paper.

T. C. Cannon

T. C. Cannon (Kiowa-Caddo), “Pink Circles,” 1974, pencil and marker on paper

The works are densely hung in a compact space for the maximum potential dialogue. The show continues through March 31, 2018, and the gallery is open by appointment, so you have many opportunities to quietly absorb the works at your own pace.

The opening reception included Axle Contemporary, a mobile gallery in a van, and music by DJ Celeste Worl (Tlingit), an artist in her own right. Rosita Worl (Tlingit) was visiting from Juneau and won an original Jason Garcia (Santa Clara) print. First American Art Magazine co-hosted the reception and donated items for the silent auction, including a complete set of issues—for those of you that have complete sets, they are now valued more than $140!

The reception was a wonderful way to launch Indian Market week. Artists, curators, and collections from all over the country (and Canada) mingled freely in a relaxed atmosphere, soaking up, not only the works of Catch 22, but also the extraordinarily eclectic collection of the Coe Foundation. A catalogue accompanies the show and is available from the Coe Foundation.

The Coe will host an open house with the Growing Thunder family, Thursday, August 17. More info:


Kevin and Valerie Pourier

Kevin and Valerie Pourier, Oglala Lakota jewelers and sculptors from South Dakota

Rosita and Celeste Worl

Activist mother and daughter: Rosita Worl and Celeste Worl, both Tlingit

Babe and Carla Hemlock

Babe and Carla Hemlock, Mohawk woodcarver and textile artist from Quebec and New York

Elias Not Afraid

Crow beadwork artist Elias Not Afraid with works in progress

Sanders, Gross, and Melero-Mosoe

Curator Nina Sanders visiting with art dealer Heather Gross and artist Melissa Melero-Moose

Keli Mashburn

Osage photographer and video artist, Keli Mashburn of Fairfax, Oklahoma, and recently returned from the Venice Biennial


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