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June 12, 2014

Allen Houser exhibit on display at Heritage Center

DUNCAN — Anyone with an interest in art and the Old West will have an opportunity to see the art work of one of the most celebrated Native American artists in the country during the next two months.

The life and work of artist Allan Houser,  who died in 1994, will be celebrated at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center and nine other museums across Oklahoma in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday.

The Heritage Center has 44 pieces on display, including the sculpture “Desert Bronze” that is on permanent display in the Heritage Center’s Garis Gallery. The exhibit will be displayed through Aug. 15.

“This is part of a multi-museum project,” Heritage Center Executive Director Stacy Moore said. “We started planning this three years ago to celebrate his 100th birthday.”

The Heritage Center is the only museum in Southwest Oklahoma to have a Houser exhibit through this project.  Other exhibits will be displayed in  Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Stillwater and Norman.

Houser,  a descendant of the Chiricahua Apache Nation, which later became known as  the Fort Sill Apache Tribe, was known for his tempera paintings and  sculptures. Many of his paintings were used as illustrations for children’s books. Houser was the first Chiricahua Apache born after the tribe was given freedom.

To make the exhibit in Duncan more interactive, the Heritage Center also has several books, illustrated by Houser, on display during the exhibit.

The paintings on display at the Heritage Center are on loan from a museum in Santa Fe, N.M., Moore said. The paintings arrived in large crates, protected by layers of buffer materials.

“We feel like Indiana Jones,” Moore said. “We get to open the big crates with crowbars. We knew what size they were going to be, but we didn’t know how big the crates were.”

As part of the exhibit program statewide, the Heritage Center’s education team worked with other educators from around the state to develop an education guide to provide more information about the exhibits, Houser and his works.

The Heritage Center has also included several Apache artifacts to solidify the details illustrated by Houser.

Moore said she’s excited about the Houser display, which is one of several exhibits planned for the next three years.

“We’re gathering more loaned exhibits, a higher level of national shows, and more of the local artists we love,” Moore said.

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