Woody Crumbo spent six decades of the mid-20th century promoting Native American art to the mainstream, where often it was seen as a novelty or niche by wealthy collectors. Through printmaking, he mass produced his depictions of animals, dancers, and other vibrant images so that anyone could afford his work. Yet despite his prolific career, which included participating in hundreds of exhibits, painting murals inside the US Department of Interior, and having hundreds of his pieces acquired by museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian, Crumbo’s art has, somewhat ironically, become a niche interest, often overlooked even when his influence in bringing Native American work into the contemporary art world remains a powerful presence.
Ever since I moved to New York, I’ve been telling people that great contemporary art is coming out of my homestate of Oklahoma. Benrimon Contemporary in Chelsea is finally bringing some evidence to New York in the group show Red Country Pictures. The exhibit focuses on one particularly influential little college on the plains, East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma.