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Rick Bartow 

NADA Miami 2023

Booth C-100

December 5-9, 2023


Rick Bartow (1946-2016) created artworks about the importance of balance, both within oneself and with the exterior world. Often addressing the challenges encountered seeking it.

A member of the Wiyot Tribe, he drew from personal experiences, cultural engagement, and global myths, especially Indigenous transformation stories. Animals, masked humans, hybrid-figures, and self-portraits populate his images. Francis Bacon, Odilon Redon and Fritz Scholder were important influences. His imagery often alludes to his own personal traumas. In particular finding ways to live with PTSD following service in the Vietnam War working with severely injured soldiers. Other threads of his art reference his own health-related struggles as well, and the challenges faced by those around him. Presenting this at times challenging content serves as a vehicle for understanding and living.


His work can be found in the permanent collections of over sixty institutions. We Were Always Here, a monumental pair of commissioned sculptures by Bartow, were installed in 2012 on the National Mall outside the 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 Autry, the Nerman, the Hood Museum at Dartmouth, Crocker Art Museum, The Legion of Honor (SF), Minneapolis Institute of Art, Library of Congress, Missoula Art Museum, Joclyn Museum, RISD, the Philbrook, the Smithsonian, and the Seattle Art Museum. A retrospective of his work, Things You Know But Cannot Explain, toured to 11 museums from 2015 to 2020. Bartow was also an accomplished musician, performing regularly and recording several albums.


His work is currently 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. His work can also be seen at the moment in the exhibition California Stars: Huivaniūs Pütsiv, curated by Andrea Hanley, at the Wheelwright Museum through January 14, 2024.

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Frog Talk Seriously, 2015

acrylic on unstretched canvas

72 x 72 inches

Japanese Tale, 1994

pastel, graphite on paper

38 x 26 inches

Fur Frida, 2001
pastel, graphite on paper

40 x 26 inches

Picasso’s Girlfriend, 2014

wood, graphite
18.5 x 8 x 18 inches

Egypt Two, 1990
Graphite and pastel on Canson Mi-Teintes paper
48 x 60 inches

Myth/Reality, 1992

pastel, graphite on paper

26 x 40 inches

Hawk at Our House, 1994
pastel, graphite on paper
40 x 26 inches

Inside the Mask, 2001

pastel, graphite on paper

40 x 26 inches

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