INNER FIRE


Alan Hauser
hauser 3 I first saw Allan Hauser’s art when I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico for the first time in 1966. I saw then that what I did and what I was teaching was only a first step toward the sculpture I wanted to make. Allan’s iconic style, avoiding unnecessary iconography, filled me with a great sense of peace. His Native American mothers holding their children were not just literal pictures of people, but solid mass forms filled with life which invited you to touch them. I had been working for years, but for the first time, I realized that everything is simply “forms” with a certain solidity, not just sculpture. Our eye does not take in everything which is there; in painting a tree we don’t paint each leaf, or each hair on a head, rather we try to convey the feeling of the entire form. So what Allan taught me throughout that summer, was how to “feel” a sculpture, and how to convey that feeling in the finished piece.

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Born in Oklahoma in 1914, Allan Hauser was the first member of his family from the Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache to be born outside captivity since Geronimo’s 1886 surrender after the tribe’s imprisonment by the United States. His father, Sam Haozous, was the grand-nephew of Geronimo, and served as his translator after the release.

Allan went to study at the Santa Fe Indian School in 1934, where he first formed his distinctive style in both painting and sculpture. It was there he met and married his wife Anna Maria Gallegos, and they were married for fifty-five years. They moved to Los Angeles in the second World War and he worked at the shipyards there. Through friends at the Pasadena Art Institute, he became familiar with the art of Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi, and Henry Moore, as well as Barbara Hepworth, from whom he learned the importance of open spaces within the sculpture. When Allan explained Hepworth’s monumental pieces to me, he stressed the importance of letting your mind supply what was missing in the void.

In my own study of Japanese art and floral arranging, that “absence of the unimportant” gave meaning to the piece which would not have been there with too much explanation. In the case of floral arrangements, it would be too many flowers.

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Allan Joined the faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe in 1962. It was there I met him in the summer of 1966, when I went with my Isleta-Laguna friend Georgia Abeita Oliver. He was a soft-spoken and generous man who graciously gave his knowledge and advice to a visiting stranger and fellow art teacher. There was no indication that this self-effacing man was one of the most renowned Native American artists in the 20th century.

When he died at the age of 80, he left behind thousands of paintings and drawings as well as his amazing public sculptures as a visual lexicon.

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In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Albert Schweitzer

Apache

“Apache Man” white carrara marble Allan Hauser