Santa Fe, NM
Hueys Fine Art, August 22-24
This story was featured in the August 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art August 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Art openings are known for lively conversations among those attending, usually centering on which pieces they like and which they’d purchase. But some of the discussions at the August 22 opening reception for Navajo sculptor Ed Natiya’s latest works at Hueys Fine Art in Santa Fe may touch on deeper subjects. Consider, for example, the response to his clay maquette for WAR PONY, the artist’s soon-to-be-cast, limited-edition bronze depiction of Sioux Chief Sitting Bull, portrayed in his full traditional regalia anachronistically astride a classic 1951 Indian-brand motorcycle emblazoned with the battle symbols that Indian warriors usually painted on their steeds.
“People are always asking me what I think about naming football teams”—and other brands, for that matter—“after Native Americans,” says Natiya, who’ll be present at the opening. “I’m not here to judge either side of the discussion. I’m just bringing up this conversation in a unique and whimsical way that also has deeper tones to it and leaving it open to viewers’ interpretation,” he says.
That issue is likely to be debated among viewers of his show, which is timed for the weekend of Santa Fe’s 93rd annual Indian Market. What isn’t in doubt, however, is the serious talent Natiya brings to the approximately 30 sculptures on display, portraying a wide range of mostly noncontroversial subjects. These include wildlife, some whimsical pieces, and historical figures like the recently completed QUANAH, a powerfully serious-looking bust of the Comanche Chief Quanah Parker.
“Ed is one of the best sculptors in the West,” says gallery managing partner Keith Huey. “As a fan of Baroque and Renaissance work, he pays a lot of attention to how the human form moves. No one compares.” Adds Natiya, “My aim is to create what I like to call ‘a speaking likeness,’ to pull out of my subjects emotional and spiritual aspects that make a piece come to life.”
Not surprisingly, the sculptor has been a strong and steady seller in the decade or so he has shown with Hueys, which spotlights his works every year at this time—as well as providing him with a studio space within the gallery, where visitors can watch Natiya at work every Friday, Saturday, and Monday. “Ed sells between 150 and 200 pieces of sculpture a year,” says Huey, “and half of those are sold just in August during Indian Market. That’s a lot of sculptures, and they go all over the world, including London, Dubai, Egypt, Canada, Germany, Italy, Australia, and all over the U.S.”
Visitors to the show at Hueys this month likely get first dibs on Natiya’s five latest sculptures, still in clay form and yet to be cast into bronze editions that range from just 25 to 50 pieces—an advantage that, for serious art collectors, is definitely not open to debate. —Norman Kolpas
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