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 Oreland C. Joe, Sr.  (1958 - )

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Lived/Active: New Mexico / Mexico      Known for: carved stone Indian figure, illustrator

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A native of Shiprock, New Mexico where his heritage is Navajo and Ute, Oreland Joe has become a highly recognized sculptor in the West of Indian figure subjects. He is the first Native American to be elected to the Cowboy Artists of America.

His favorite sculptor is Antonio Canova, an 18th-century Italian sculptor, whose work studied on a trip to Italy in 1986. Joe works primarily in stone including alabaster, marble, and limestone.

Oreland Joe was raised in a family with a musically talented mother and artistically inclined father who was a truck driver and jewelry maker. They encouraged his art interest, and one of his teachers, Mary L Peterson, realizing his talent, gave him alabaster to carve. After high school, he worked as an illustrator for the Shiprock School District in New Mexico and also studied at the Louvre in Paris and the Tokyo Museum of Art, Sculpture Department. In France, he also spent six weeks as a hoop dancer in a Native American Dance troop and spent much time in museums.

He has been an instructor at the Cowboy Artists of America Museum, the Scottsdale Artists School, and San Juan College. Joe has also done mural work including one for the high school in Kirkland.

In 1993, he was elected to the Cowboy Artists of America, and in 1996, he was commissioned by both the Ponca City Native American Foundation in Oklahoma and the Southern Ute Tribe to create Native American Monuments. One of his largest pieces is Ponca chief Standing Bear, erected in Ponca City. He and his family live in Kirtland, New Mexico.

Oreland C. Joe won top honors at the 37th Annual (2002) Cowboy Artists of America Sale and Exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum. Joe's sculpture "Shawl Dancers" won both the Kieckhefer Award for best in show and the Gold Medal for Sculpture.

He described his work as "somewhere between realism and abstraction held in unity by an underlying mystical philosphy" ("Southwest Art", January 1988)

Sources include:
Exhibition Catalogues, Cowboy Artists of America, Phoenix Art Museum
"Southwest Art", January 1988

Biography from Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery Santa FeTucson:
Oreland Joe is world-renowned for his work in stone and bronze sculpture. His works can be found in private, corporate, and museum collections in the United States and abroad. Oreland Joe was born in Shiprock, New Mexico on June 3, 1958. He is a native of New Mexico and is of Dine' (Navajo) and Ute descent. Oreland Joe grew up in the four-corners area most of his life, both on the Navajo and Ute reservations. Currently, Kirtland, New Mexico is home to his family and studio.

Oreland Joe knew, by the age of four, he wanted to be an artist. As a young man, he experienced various influences that have formed the man who commands admiration and respect in today's contemporary art world.

The most important influences Oreland Joe had throughout his life include his family - his father, mother, grandfather, and teachers. These individuals provided encouragement, support, and the inspiration to grow his artistic talents. He found his father's work as a silversmith and painter, his mother's musical talent, and his grandfather's participation in traditional songs and dances provided him with cultural inspiration and appreciation for history. These experiences provided Oreland Joe with a rich and viable life which is the catalyst that has spun his ideas, images and creativity into a successful career.

Oreland Joe's work in bronze have proven to be just as popular as his works in stone. Orland primarily works with marble, alabaster, and limestone.

While in France and Italy in 1978 and 1984, Oreland Joe was able to capture, in heart and mind European art and culture. Seeing and feeling the impressive artistic works of the Greek, Roman, Renaissance and Baroque periods provoked another dimension in Oreland's artistic life. In 1986, a trip to Japan, introduced a new concept as well as a wider perception/perspective of art in other cultures. The time Oreland Joe spends studying the arts and art history of the European masters (Bernini, Canova, and Michelangelo) are actually his "periods of inspiration.". A constant study of the sculpture of Italy, France, Japan, England, and Egypt continues to enhance Oreland Joe's work. Researching and working with ideas and depictions of Native American lifestyles, songs, and dances of the 1800-1920s has always been a favorite as well. Images from this time span continue to give Oreland Joe a sense of home.

In 1993, Oreland Joe received the distinct honor of becoming the first Native American artist to be a member of the famed and prestigious organization "Cowboy Artist of America." This honor launched Oreland to new heights in his career. In 1996, he was chosen out of 50 artists by the Ponca City Native American Foundation to produce a twenty-two foot bronze sculpture of "Chief Standing Bear." It is Oreland Joe's crowning achievement to date and his most public artistic statement.

Oreland Joe's love for art has placed him in an elite class of stone and bronze sculptors known throughout the world. In spite of all his accomplishments and ever-growing popularity, Oreland Joe remains humble, sensitive, and grateful. He still finds time to teach others at his studio or workshops. He continues to be "down to earth" as the foundation that sustains him are still derived from his family, good friends, Creator. He serves as a great role model for all young people.

-Excerpted Rose Toehe, Flagstaff, Arizona

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, III:
“Ideas come to me in several ways. At four in the morning, I might hear a song and put it down quickly. There may be a sudden stance of a dance I must capture. Walking alone I see a caprice of nature I can use or I have a feeling of déjà vu. I visualize the final state and put it down.”

Oreland C. Joe grew up on the Navajo Reservation in Shiprock, New Mexico. When his first grade teacher encouraged his crayon drawings, he decided that art was what he wanted to do with his life. His family also nurtured his talent; his father gave him drawings to copy, especially in church to keep him quiet. His mother supplied plenty of Big Chief notebooks.

After high school, Joe became an illustrator for the school print shop. But a 1978 trip to Paris was the turning point in his artistic career. He was there to perform as an Indian Hoop Dancer, but “During the day, I visited the art museums and galleries and was most struck by the gardens of Versailles. Something clicked in me when I saw the statuary. I had to know how it was done, how to use marble.”

Without any kind of formal training, Joe taught himself the rudiments of sculpture, often inventing his own tools to create the results he wanted. Today, his works in stone reflect simplistic styling and deep emotion. His own family, and the Southern Ute culture of his father inspire many of his pieces.

Of the evolution of his work, Joe says, “My philosophy is that it matters little how large or small a piece is, as long as each one has its own individual quality. As a stone carver, I work in alabaster, marble and limestone. My work is continually evolving – it is becoming more representational or realistic all the time. As a beginning artist you search for your ground and I used to depict any Indian – Blackfoot, Cheyenne – they all fascinated me. But my talent developed and I began to develop personally. These past few years I’ve concentrated on my own people, the Southern Ute, and have found that there is a massive amount of knowledge to be shared by these people. Some people feel that one Native American is much the same as any other, but each tribe is totally unique, and I feel the Southern Utes are special.”

Biography from Artistic Gallery:
Sculptor, Oreland C. Joe, Sr. is known for his sculpture in stone and bronze.  He is a native New Mexican and is of Dine’ (Navajo) and Ute descent.

The influences in Oreland Joe's life include his family and his travels abroad to France, Italy and Japan.  Studying European art and culture, seeing and feeling the impressive artistic works of the Masters in Greek, Roman, Renaissance and Baroque periods were significant life-changing experiences.  Joe still spends much of his time studying the Masters (Bernini, Canova, and Michelangelo).  Incorporating his Native American heritage into what he studies and creates has proven to be an integral part in his career.

Oreland Joe is the first Native American to be admitted as a member to the Cowboy Artists of America organization.  In 1996, he was commissioned by the Ponca City Native American Foundation to produce a 22-foot bronze sculpture of Chief Standing Bear; his most public artistic statement to date.

The Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma honored him with a retrospective showing at the Gilcrease Rendezvous 99.  During the same year, Joe also captured the Silver medal for sculpture at the CAA show, and the Gold medal at the Masters of the West exhibition at the Autry Museum in Los Angeles.  In September 2000, he received the New Mexico Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.  In June 2002, the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Committee of Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, commissioned Oreland Joe to create five life-size figures and a dog in a work titled The First Council.

Of himself, the artist says:
"I find strength, faith, and dignity through my heritage; yet I also find these in other cultures and I derive inspiration and motivation from them as well. In my humble opinion, I am just an artist who happens to be Native American. I find myself in a unique place of receiving blessings from two worlds.  My goal and desire is to have more Native American artists to be in this place."

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