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John Coleman

 (born 1949)
John Coleman is active/lives in Arizona, California.  John Coleman is known for Indian ceremonial figure sculpture.

John Coleman

Biography from the Archives of askART

A native Southern Californian, John Coleman has become a well-known Southwest sculptor of Indian figure work.  In October, 2001, he was elected to the Cowboy Artists of America*, an organization dedicated to stylistic realism and western themes in the tradition of Charles Russell and Frederick Remington.  In 2009, John Coleman was elected President of the CAA. 

In CAA exhibitions, he has won numerous awards including in 2009, the Kieckhefer Award* for Best of Show and Artists' Choice.  In 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2007, he received the Sculpture Award, and in 2006, the Ray Swanson Memorial Award.  He has been part of the Cowboy Artists of America mentoring program for aspiring western artists established by the Joe Beeler CA Foundation.  This project includes a workshop teaching program at the Scottsdale Artists School.

John Coleman's entries in the 2009 Cowboy Artists of America exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum included a bronze depiction of a Mandan Indian figure involved in The Game of Arrows.  It was based on a theme that painter George Catlin had explored in the early 1830s, and referred to archery competitions among distinguished Mandan archers.

Coleman grew up "against the background of the surfing culture" but was much more interested in art and history, and had a special fascination for western movies.  He began making money at age fifteen by doing illustration and construction, and at age twenty, moved to Prescott, Arizona where he found source material for his fascination with the cowboy mentality of early Arizona and with Indian culture. 

In Coleman's later twentieth-century pieces, he has done many nude classical figures combined with Indian mythology themes.  His working method is to envision the completed piece before starting, and generally to focus on one sculpture at a time.  In 1994, he took several pieces of sculpture to the Celebration of the Arts exhibition venue in Scottsdale, where he was successful, and since then, each year he has done over one-hundred pieces, most of them with Indian motifs.

In June, 2009, Coleman, who is a member of the National Sculpture Society, celebrated his fifth year as a participant in the Prix de West exhibition at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.  He also won the James Earle Fraser Sculpture Award and the Nona Joan Hulsey Buyers' Choice Award.

In April 2010, the Gilcrease Museum is hosting a retrospective exhibition of Coleman's work. 

Editor, "John Coleman", Cowboy Artists of America 44th Annual Exhibition Catalogue, 2009
Artist files of The Phoenix Art Museum Library

* For references, see AskART Glossary

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, I
Through his art, John Coleman seeks to communicate ideas on multiple levels, starting with the specific stories of people and their rituals and then, on a deeper level, using the stories as metaphors for more universal concepts.

Coleman began making money at age fifteen by doing illustration, and before turning to fine art as his career, worked as a contractor for twenty-seven years.  In 1994 he began sculpting full-time, with his works ranging from nude classical figures to Indian mythology themes.

Since then, each year he has done over one hundred pieces, most of them with Indian motifs.  Of his work, Coleman says that "Art, to me, literally puts a physical face on a spiritual idea."

Coleman's favorite type of art is the kind that tells a story that is deeper than what you see on the surface.  Following in the tradition of Bernini and Canova, Coleman believes that understanding mythology and its basis for civilization is the anchor for spirituality. His love of history and mythology stands as the foundation on which he builds his art. Traditions steeped in folklore and mythic tales are the impetus for his sculpture.

Reference: Southwest Art Magazine

Biography from Red Piano Art Gallery
Coleman's pieces connect with the viewer, making one wonder about the lives and stories of the subjects represented. With an attention to detail, accuracy in the human form, and thoughtful research each piece is distinctive and unique.

Now living in Prescott, Arizona, Coleman is a member of the National Sculpture Society of New York and the Cowboy Artists of America.  He has taken his place as one of the nation's leading sculptors of western art.

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About  John Coleman

Born:  1949
Known for:  Indian ceremonial figure sculpture