Rick Bartow: Things You Know But Cannot Explain
By Jill Hartz and Danielle M. Knapp Over forty years and across a variety of media, artist Rick Bartow has created a powerful body of work. His representations of humans, animals, hybrid creatures, and shadowy figures display such exquisite beauty or grotesque absurdity—sometimes both at once—that a viewer cannot help being pulled into the artist's world. The experience can be whimsical and troubling by turns, but is always undeniably transformative. Born in Oregon, Bartow is a member of the Wiyot tribe of the Humboldt Bay region, and his art carries influences of his heritage as well as his fine-art training, travels, and life events. This exhibition catalog accompanies the show Rick Bartow: Things You Know But Cannot Explain, which originated at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (University of Oregon, Eugene) and will be on view through 2018 at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (Santa Fe, NM); the Heard Museum (Phoenix, AZ); Washington State University Museum of Art (Pullman); and the Autry National Center (Los Angeles). Full-color images display key works from the show, supplemented by a comprehensive visual checklist of pieces. Essays by the show’s co-curators and by Lawrence Fong, former curator of American and regional art at the JSMA, explore key themes in the artist’s oeuvre.