NPR's Ketzel Levine reports on artist Rick Bartow's work for Morning Edition.
See a photo gallery of Bartow's work.
April 18, 2003 -- The paintings and drawings of artist Rick Bartow are not easily forgotten. His images are graphic and intense. He works with unspeakable materials like grief and fear, gives them shape, makes them mythic, and by getting the images out, overcomes despair.
Bartow, who shows most of his work in the Portland, Ore., area is a decorated Vietnam veteran who continues to process images and memories from his time in the military. But he does not draw soldiers or paint scenes of war. Instead, he pieces together fragments, impressions and memories -- bandaged bodies, bared teeth, slashes of color -- and creates art that does not simply tell a story, but implies an entire unseen world.
"Drawing comes from inside my head," writes Bartow, "down my arm, to my hand... The marks become little dictators. They demand my attention and, sometimes, even my blood as fingers crack and bleed... I draw because I have no choice: it is my blessing, it is my curse."
About his ancestry as a Yurok Indian and the way it affects him as an artist: "It's a silly philosophical thing. I'm an artist who happens to be Indian. I'm involved in what I can find in my culture, and I use that in my work. Wisdom is wisdom."
Rick Bartow's paintings and drawings will be on exhibit at the George Gustav Heye Center in New York, part of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. The show opens April 26, 2003. He is represented by two galleries in the Pacific Northwest: Froelick Gallery and Stonington Gallery.
Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
See a slideshow of Rick Bartow's work at the Froelick Gallery.
Read more about Rick Bartow and see his work at the Stonington Gallery.
Listening to audio requires the RealAudio
Copyright © 2002 National Public Radio, Washington, D.C.