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Antlers, Horns, and the Pursuit of Equipoises


Opening Saturday, May 11th, 4-6pm

On view through Saturday, June 15th

Rick Bartow’s layered, expressionistic images of humans and animals capture the inexorably shifting nature of existence and our perpetually revised perceptions of it. Bartow (1946 - 2016), a member of the Wiyot Tribe, used his own experiences as starting points to explore universal aspects of the human condition. Often depicting difficult content, but always in the pursuit of elucidating the importance of seeking balance. Multiple overlaid limbs, faces, and bodies are common in his work, his marks immediately telegraphing an unfixed state of being.

A professionally trained artist, Bartow lived and worked on the Oregon coast. He returned from the Vietnam war with severe PTSD and lost nearly a decade to addiction. Reflecting back in a 1989 essay, Transformations, Bartow elaborated,  “… like so many others, I was a bit twisted. I was a house filled with irrational fears, beliefs, and symbols. Wind-blown paper would send me running; crows became many things; I never remembered dreams and detested the wind; I wore bells on my wrists so I could hear my parts when they moved; I slept in my clothes so I’d be ready to go nowhere at all…. During this time I found a huge pad of newsprint and began to draw, trying to exorcise the demons that had made me strange to myself. My work has never stopped being therapy.”


In the late 1970s Bartow struck his own footing, through his art making and with help from a local elder on the Siletz Reservation. His artwork addresses both personal and tribal traumas. Bartow was a voracious consumer of art history: German Expressionism and Goya, European modernists like Francis Bacon and Odilon Redon, the lines of Cy Twombly. They were influences in grappling with challenging imagery. Exposure to broader cultural encounters, global myths, and especially Indigenous transformation narratives were all essential to his art. Bartow was also an accomplished musician, performing regularly and recording several albums; he sang about love and loss. In both visual art and music he hoped to guide himself and others to equilibrium.


Hybrid human-animal figures frequently appear in Bartow’s works. This exhibition assembles paintings, sculptures, and works on paper prominently featuring antlers and horns. Used to establish territory, for defense from predators, and as advertisements for reproduction, they are connected to moments of action, fertility, and regeneration. Decisive moments, examples and evidence for Bartow’s position that we are in constant flux, and thus must keep taking measures to maintain a balanced course.


This is the first exhibition of his art in Los Angeles since the Autry Museum of the American West presented Things You Know But Cannot Explain in 2018, a major retrospective that had an eleven city tour over five years.


Rick Bartow’s work can be found in the permanent collections of over one hundred museums and institutions. We Were Always Here, a monumental pair of commissioned sculptures by Bartow were installed in 2012 on the National Mall outside The Smithsonian's NMAI. In 2022 the Whitney added four works by Bartow to their permanent collection, joining, among many other institutions holding his work: the Brooklyn Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Peabody Essex Museum, Portland Art Museum, Denver Art Museum, The Heard Museum, the Hood Museum at Dartmouth, The Legion of Honor (SF), Minneapolis Institute of Art, Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and the Seattle Art Museum. Recently his work was included in the landmark exhibition Indian Theater: Native Performance, Art, and Self-Determination since 1969, curated by Candice Hopkins at the Hessel Museum/ CCS Bard in 2023. And in the exhibition California Stars: Huivaniūs Pütsiv, curated by Andrea Hanley, at the Wheelwright Museum. His painting Buck was included in Many Wests, an exhibition that toured from 2022 to 2024, comprised of works from the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Boise Art Museum; the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art; the Utah Museum of Fine Arts; and the Whatcom Museum. Organized by Amy Chaloupka, Melanie Fales, Danielle Knapp, Whitney Tassie, and E. Carmen Ramos, with Anne Hyland.


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Photo by ofstudio


Photo by ofstudio


Photo by ofstudio


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Photo by ofstudio


Photo by ofstudio

Photo by ofstudio

Photo by ofstudio

Bull Man Laughs, 2011
pastel, graphite, spray paint on paper

44 x 30 inches

Bull Man Remnant #1, 2011

wood, mixed media
16 x 8 x 5 1/4 inches

SMALL BAR2587_White Deer_74x96in_RJ copy

White Deer, 2013
acrylic, graphite on unstretched canvas

74 x 96 inches

Antler and Blue Hammer, 2015

acrylic on canvas

36 x 36 inches


Cernunnos, 2012


74 x 9 x 9 inches

Fur Frida, 2001

pastel, graphite on paper

40 x 26 inch paper size

Bull Man Remnant #2, 2011

wood, mixed media
11 x 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches 

Big Maske,1997


30 x 22 inch paper size


Chief Don's Story, 1999

pastel, graphite, and mixed media on handmade Mexican paper

60 x 47 inches, paper size

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