A look at the life and art of Allan Houser. Born as Allan C. Haozous, this artist was to become known as Allan Houser, one of the 20th Century's most important artists. Allan's father was with the small band of Warm Springs Chiricahuas when their leader, Geronimo, surrendered to the U.S. Army in 1886 in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua. At an early age Allan became interested in Apache traditions and cultural life, which he celebrated in his life's work. In 1934 a notice for an art school in Santa Fe attracted his attention, and he enrolled in the Painting School at the Santa Fe Indian School. Commonly known as the Dorothy Dunn School after its prominent teacher, Allan became its most famous student and by 1939 his work was exhibited in San Francisco, Washington D. C., and Chicago. In the same year he received a commission to paint a mural in the Department of Interior building in Washington, and its success led to a second mural commission there in 1940. In 1962 Allan joined the faculty of the newly created Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. There he created the sculpture department and focused on three-dimensional art work. As he taught and created sculpture he integrated the aesthetics of the modernists with his narrative ideas. By the late 1960's he began exhibiting this sculpture and recognition of his unique style grew. Museums and private collectors sought out examples, and his influence became apparent on hundreds of students and other artists. In 1975 Allan retired from teaching to devote himself full-time to his own work. In the two following decades he produced close to 1,000 sculptures in stone, wood, and bronze, and emerged as a major figure on an international scale. He had nearly 50 solo exhibitions in museums and galleries in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and he continued working tirelessly until his death in 1994.
Orginally broadcast on New Mexico PBS station KNME-TV.