ANADARKO, OK — The Southern Plains Indian Museum (SPIM), administered by the US Department of the Interior, Indian Arts and Crafts Board, announces the opening of a new exhibition, A Narrative of Kiowa Life: Featuring Monroe Tsatoke. This solo exhibition will run from December 9, 2022, through February 24, 2023, and is free to the public.
A. Monroe Tsatoke (Kiowa, b. 1955) has worked in a variety of media for more than 40 years. Monroe enjoys creating Native American regalia with cultural materials and techniques, as well as creating contemporary paintings on canvas. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and a master of arts degree in education from the University of Oklahoma. Monroe’s 40-year career as an art teacher began in 1976. He taught at several schools over the following decades. For his final 14 years of teaching, he taught at Riverside Indian School in Anadarko. Monroe currently resides in Carnegie, Oklahoma, with his wife Johanna (BigBow) Tsatoke (Kiowa). He is an ordained minister and currently serves as the pastor for three churches in the area.
Tsatoke’s Early Years
Born in Carnegie, Oklahoma, Monroe was raised in a culturally rich Kiowa home. Drawing inspiration from the art of the Kiowa Six and from his tribe’s culture, he enjoys painting subjects in ceremonial regalia as well as landscapes. Although he primarily paints with acrylics and watercolors, he has begun to experiment with new techniques, including the use of spray paint in his work. Monroe takes pride in crafting each of his paintings from start to finish. He begins the process by stretching and priming the canvas. Once the painting is complete, he finishes each work by building a unique wooden frame for the painting.
Monroe was drawn to the arts as a young child. In elementary school, Monroe’s drawings appeared in the school newspaper. Over time he learned from many local Native American artists and studied directly under Parker Boyiddle (Kiowa/Wichita/Delaware/Chickasaw, 1947–2007) and Archie Blackowl (Southern Cheyenne, 1911–1992).
While a student at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Monroe was fortunate to meet the artist Archie Blackowl, who shared his knowledge, talents, and skills with Monroe. He told Monroe,
“You are a Tsatoke, you have art and art history in your family. Paint what you know best, paint from your Tribe. Paint all that you can to keep your Tribe’s customs and traditions alive. Don’t stray from your Tribe and paint something from another Tribe because if you paint something out of place, that Tribe or members can criticize you for putting something out of place…paint what you know!”
Grateful for the advice and mentorship, Monroe continued to study his tribe’s history and develop his own unique artistic style. He continues to keep the rich stories, myths, and culture of the Kiowa people alive through art.
Throughout his career, Monroe has received numerous recognitions and awards for his artwork. He was the featured artist at the Redrock High School Annual in 1981. In both 1978 and 2014, he won first place at the American Indian Exposition Art Show held in Anadarko, Oklahoma. Monroe participated in the 1998 Oklahoma State University Art Show held in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In both 2020 and 2022, he won first place in the fine arts division Carnegie Fair Art Competition held in Carnegie, Oklahoma. In 2022, he won Best of Show in the same competition.
This exhibition marks the first solo exhibition of Monroe’s work and his first professional museum exhibition. The artwork featured in the exhibition may be purchased by contacting Monroe Tsatoke directly via email.
Southern Plains Indian Museum (SPIM)
US Department of the Interior, Indian Arts and Crafts Board administers the Southern Plains Indian Museum. Please call the Southern Plains Indian Museum at (405) 247-6221 or visit www.doi.gov/iacb/southern-plains-indian-museum
Southern Plains Indian Museum is located at 801 E. Central Boulevard, Anadarko, OK, and its hours are Wednesday – Friday, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.