Published on July 30, 2012 by Amy
Rick Bartow (born 1946 in Newport, Oregon) is a Native American artist of Wiyot and Yurok (Native American groups indigenous to Humboldt County, California) heritage. He works in sculpture, print, etching, monotype, ceramics, mixed media, and painting.
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Rick Bartow attended Western Oregon University and graduated in 1969 with a degree in secondary art education. He then served 13 months in the Vietnam war as a teletype operator and as a musician in a military hospital, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star.
His work can be found in several museum collections including the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, Indiana; the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC; the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem, Oregon; the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona; the de Saisset Museum; and the Portland Art Museum. In 2003 his works were exhibited at the George Gustav Heye Center, a branch of the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City.
His carving The Cedar Mill Pole was displayed in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden at the White House in 1997; it had been designated one of the most highly-regarded Native American public sculptures in the country. The pole was partially inspired by Bartow’s work with the Māori artist John Bevan Ford. Presented as a gift to the Portland, Oregon metropolitan community from Oregon’s Washington County and the Oregon College of Art and Craft, it was intended to help heal the controversy that surrounded an urban development project. The 26-foot-tall carving was created using one of the giant cedars that were removed for a road project.
As influences, Bartow cites Marc Chagall, Francis Bacon, Odilon Redon, and Horst Janssen, in addition to his Native American heritage and his work with the Māori. These artists also worked expressionistically with human and animal forms.
Bartow is also a musician and singer with his own band; he plays the guitar.