Remembering Art Wolf and Christine McHorse
Last week, we lost two members of our SAR family. On Sunday, February 14, Art Wolf, the first curator of collections for the Indian Arts Research Center, passed away. Just a few days later, 2006 Eric and Barbara Dobkin Native artist fellow Christine McHorse also began her journey into the next world.
Art Wolf at SAR, 1977
Hired in 1977, Art was charged with overseeing the building of the facility that would become the Indian Arts Research Center. What resulted was the center we all know today, a warm beautiful building that embraces the cultural belongings it so carefully houses and welcomes community members and visitors from near and far.
Since leaving SAR, Art worked tirelessly to help other institutions become better versions of themselves and served as director of several museums including the Museum of Northern Arizona; High Desert Museum; Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas; and Millicent Rogers Museum. He was also a staunch ally for Indigenous people and issues. Art stayed connected to SAR, however, and in 2020 SAR Press director Sarah Soliz sat down with Art as they explored the four decades following the building of the Indian Arts Research Center. Read about their conversation here.
Born in Morenci, Arizona, Christine McHorse was renowned for her award-winning pottery that transcended definition. In 1963 she began her creative career when she enrolled at the Institute of American Indian Arts, then still a high school. There, she met her husband, Joel P. McHorse of Taos Pueblo, and it was Joel’s grandmother, Lena Archuleta, who taught her to work with micaceous clay.
Over the next several decades, Christine would continue to develop and refine her technique, producing a distinctive style (see examples of her work from the IARC collections here) that reflected the centuries-old style she was taught and her own bold experiments in form and texture. Friend, collector, SAR honorary board member, and champion of her work Eric Dobkin remembers, “When we had the book opening at [Gerald] Peters Gallery, I sat with her and Joel for a bit and told her how important she was. . . . It was just a great time between collector and artist. [Her loss is] very sad. She was special.”
The Santa Fe New Mexican recently published this lovely tribute to Christine honoring her life. See the article here.
As IARC director Elysia Poon notes, “The legacy that Art and Christine each leave behind will be remembered and cherished for generations to come. They may be gone from this world, but their stars will always shine bright.”