Michael Horse — of Yaqui, Mescalero Apache and Zuni descent — will be demonstrating some of his artistic techniques and discussing the folk art of ledger painting from 6:30 to 8 p.m. this Wednesday, February 3, at the Main Library.
His work is on exhibit at the library through Saturday, February 20.
Horse, an award-winning artist, jeweler and actor, has shown his work in fine galleries and museums across the United States and throughout the world. He is considered an expert and lectures regularly on ledger painting, the pictorial history of Native life.
He is also a well-known actor whose credits include “Twin Peaks,” “X-Files,” “Walker Texas Ranger” and “Passenger 57.”
Horse lives in the Bay Area. He and his wife own the Gathering Tribes gallery in Albany.
“I’m very excited to share my ledger art with the Bay Area”, says Horse. “It is a fascinating art form that many people who are knowledgeable about Native art are not familiar with.”
Horse is also a talented jeweler, who uses only the best stones available and works in both silver and gold.
For the ledger art, Horse uses vintage watercolor and pen and ink on vintage documents from earlier times. He has been creating ledger paintings since the late 1970s.
He became familiar with the form while working as a cultural consultant with the Heye Foundation in New York and the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles. In the museum, he was shown old ledger paintings and realized that it was something he could continue to do.
“It is our history from our point of view. We first painted on hide, then in the 1800s with the introduction of paper, we started to use this medium”, says Horse.
Initally, when Native people were put on reservations they were not allowed to leave or to have weapons. Prior to that time history was recorded on hides and via the oral tradition.
When the hides were no longer available the people started to record either what they saw around them or what life was like before the reservation. “It is actually a type of internment art”, says Horse.
He is still involved in film and has most recently been working on a television series pilot called “Sons of Tuscon” to be on the air some time this year. Horse serves on the board of the American Indian Film Institute in San Francisco, which presents the oldest Native American film festival in the world every November.