Amiotte lecture honors legacy of Oscar Howe

Amiotte lecture honors legacy of Oscar Howe by Erin Oliver Art is in Arthur Amiotte's blood.

It flowed through the veins of his ancestors, who drew on rawhide to commemorate a notable hunt, on muddy grounds with sticks to pass the time and on legal pads while living on a reservation.

It was transfused to Amiotte, who found himself unsatisfied with the art he knew � traditional and European.

His passion for art was rekindled after he was introduced to the methods, artistry and person of the late Oscar Howe, a South Dakota native considered by many to be a revolutionary in American Indian art.

"I had drawn the familiar green wine bottle with an apple, orange, green cloth," said Amiotte of his career before Howe. "I wanted to draw things from my own heritage."

Amiotte and Howe's history, as well as the similarity between past and present American Indian art, culture and legend was the subject of the 15th annual Oscar Howe Memorial Lecture on American Indian Art.

The lecture was held in Old Main's Farber Hall on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.

Amiotte, an artist, teacher and scholar of Oglala Teton Lakota heritage, spoke for nearly an hour on his topic of "Ledger Art and the Art of Oscar Howe" using slides, anecdotes and humor to illustrate his points.

"He (Howe) was so far advanced from what they (his contemporaries) were doing," Amiotte said, adding that Howe's contemporaries were still painting cowboy-and-Indian style pictures when the two met.

"Howe instilled in us how lucky we are to have such a strong tradition so we don't

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have to decide which bottle (and) fruit ? to paint. We have the subject matter within ourselves."

The program was followed by a brief showing of the Oscar Howe Memorial Gallery in Old Main and a reception at the Native American Culture Center.

The purpose of the night was to celebrate the legacy and example of Oscar Howe, said Professor John Day, who introduced Amiotte.

Adelheid Howe, Oscar Howe's widow, thought the night honored her husband's legacy properly.

"My favorite part was seeing all his old paintings again," Adelheid said. "It brings back all the memories of the stories Oscar told me."

The annual Oscar Howe Memorial Lecture was established in 1989 to promote his vision for American Indian art.

This year's lecture was sponsored by the USD's Oscar Howe Memorial Association and Institute of American Indian Studies.

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