1914 (Apache, Oklahoma)
1994 (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
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Indian figure sculpture, painting
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|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Born on the family farm near in Apache, Oklahoma, Allan Houser became one of the Southwest's most famous and financially successful twentieth-century sculptors, known for his abstract Indian subjects. In his book, Masters of American Sculptors, Donald Martin Reynolds referred to Houser, who was Chiricahua Apache, as the "patriarch of American Indian sculptors. . . .Through his prodigious output and a generation of students and followers, Houser has been a formidable force in shaping contemporary Indian sculpture". (205). In 1993, the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, opened a sculpture garden in his honor.|
With close ties to Arizona, Houser was the grandson of the chief who served as Geronimo's interpreter and a great nephew of the Apache Chief, Geronimo. Houser had the Apache name of "Haozous", translated in English as 'The Sound of Pulling Roots'.
At age 15, in 1929, he left high school to help his father run the farm, but five years later enrolled in the Santa Fe Indian Art School founded by Dorothy Dunn. He said because it was free, it was the only art school an Indian could afford. His family were farmers, and he could only go to school when he wasn't needed at home for farm labor. However, his talent was soon recognized, and the first year of his enrollment he was named the school's outstanding artist. He also studied mural painting with Olaf Nordmark at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and he began his art career as a muralist and painter and then focused on stone and wood carving and sculpting in steel and bronze.
He worked in Santa Fe from 1936 to 1938, the only Indian specializing in sculpture, and he also painted murals in Washington D.C for the Department of the Interior; Fort Sill, Arkansas; and Riverside, California. As a painter, he did the official portrait of Stuart Udall, Secretary of the Interior and Apache Chief Geronimo for the Arizona State Capitol Building in Phoenix.
During World War II, he was a factory hand and ditch digger in California. In 1948, he won a scholarship to the Haskell Institute in Kansas, followed by a Guggenheim Fellowship. There he did his first large sculpture, Comrades in Mourning. Carved from marble, it is eight-feet tall and weighs four and a half tons and remains at the Institute.
From 1951 to 1975, he taught art in Indian Schools, and also served as instructor at the Institute of American Arts. From 1962, he lived in Santa Fe from where his work was collected all over the United States. The Phoenician Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona, has one of the largest collections of his sculpture.
Peggy and Harold Samuels, Contemporary Western Artists and The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West
Donald Martin Reynolds, Masters of American Sculpture
Patrick Lester, The Biographical Directory of Native American Painters
|These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:|
|Born in Apache, OK on June 30, 1914. An Apache, Houser was the grandson of Geronimo. He studied at the Indian Art School in Santa Fe. He was a resident Los Angeles during the 1940s and 1950s. He died in Santa Fe, NM on Aug. 22, 1994. In: Southwest Museum (LA); Interior Bldg (Washington, DC).|
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Who's Who in American Art 1940-53; Social Security Death Index (1940-2002).
|Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.|
|Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, III:|
Modernist sculptor of American Indian figures in bronze and stone statues and statuettes, born in Apache, Oklahoma in 1915 and living in Santa Fe, New Mexico since 1962. “By the time I went back to finish school, I was nineteen and overage for the school near home,” he recalls. “All the kids seemed young. Instead, I went to the old Indian School in Santa Fe, the one founding by Dorothy Dunn. I was the only art school an Indian could afford to go to in those days, because it was free.”
Grandson of the Apache chief who was Geronimo’s interpreter, Houser had to “drop out of high school to help with the farm.” In Santa Fe from 1936 to 1938, he was the only Indian working in sculpture. He also painting murals in Washington, D.C., exhibited in the 1939 New York World’s Fair, and had a one-person show at the Museum of New Mexico. During World War II, he lived in California and worked as a factory hand and ditch digger, but in 1948 he won a sculpture competition at the Haskell Institute in Kansas and modeled his first eight-foot stone monument.
In 1949, Houser received a Guggenheim fellowship. He began teaching in Indian schools in 1951, was awarded the Palmes d’Academique by France in 1956 for contributions to Indian art, and retired from teaching in 1975, “a long time for somebody who had wanted to free lance. You never think of getting old. Sometimes I lie awake all night, thinking o the new project for the next morning. I want it to tingle my back when I look at it.” Houser’s sculpture is in six museums, he was written up in Artists of the Rockies, April 1979, and Southwest Art, June 1981.
Resource: Contemporary Western Artists, by Peggy and Harold Samuels 1982, Judd’s Inc., Washington, D.C
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