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A beautiful Hopi Abstract Modernist color-field style pencil on paper drawing by Charles Loloma, c. 1980’s

Ex: Charles Loloma Personal Collection

It’s a relatively little known fact today, but the renowned Hopi jewelery artist, Charles Loloma (Hopi,1921-1991) was also one of America’s great Abstract Modernist artists. In fact, he was already a great artist many years before he became a great jeweler which, of course, is what he is best known as today. Loloma was trained and mentored as a painter while still in his teens by none other than the great Hopi artist, Fred Kabotie (1900-1986) and he personally assisted Kabotie in 1937-39 when he was 16 to 18 years old painting Hopi kachina and other murals for the renowned 1939 Golden Gate International Art Exposition on Treasure Island in San Francisco bay.

Another of Loloma’s early Kachina murals, formerly from The Hopi High School, is presently on display in the permanent collection of The Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ as pictured below. Loloma’s fine artwork is little known as well because in general his abstract and figurative paintings and drawings have very seldom been publicly seen until quite recently but Charles Loloma could hold his own with the very best of America’s and Europe’s great abstract Modernists, Picasso, Miro, Kandinsky, de Kooning, Rothko, Pollock, Kline etc.

An early Charles Loloma Kachina mural formerly in The Hopi High School now on display at The Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.

Wall of the entrance foyer to The Heard Museum’s 2015 “Loloma, Expressions in Metal, Ink and Clay” exhibition of selected Charles Loloma drawings, pottery and jewelry. The 1948 pencil portraits at left and right, a self-portrait of Charles and a matching portrait of his first wife, Otellie Pasiyeva Loloma (1921-1993), were donated to The Heard Museum’s Collection by Fine Arts of the Southwest.

“Color field is characterized primarily by large fields of flat, solid color spread across or stained into the canvas creating areas of unbroken surface and a flat picture plane. The movement places less emphasis on gesture, brushstrokes and action in favor of an overall consistency of form and process. In color field painting "color is freed from objective context and becomes the subject in itself.”

-Quotation source and © Wikipedia

Loloma’s drawings have been mostly unexposed over the years primarily because even though he drew and painted over most of his life. Loloma was never very interested in selling these artworks, he kept the vast majority of them including this one in his own private personal collection and would on occasion make or give one to a valued friend or former business associate. The fact that he basically lived a million miles from the world’s contemporary art centers in remote, dusty, tiny Hotevilla, Arizona in the far reaches of the Hopi Indian Reservation contributed to this relative obscurity.

We have previously acquired only a very few Loloma drawings here and there from two of his old friends and former dealers, including the late Martha H. Struever and Dewey Galleries of Santa Fe and one from the family of his former accountant in Phoenix, but now in the case of this particular drawing and perhaps a few more to come we have acquired them directly from his own personal collection via the estate of his recently deceased second wife, Georgia Voisard Loloma (d. 2021). A number of the drawings from Charles and Georgia Loloma’s collection were exhibited briefly in 2015 in a small exhibition at The Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona as seen below.

This drawing is done in variously colored pencils on paper. The composition is an abstract, somewhat cubist color-field style form rendered in a beautiful palette of blocks of red, yellow, purple, blues and brown. Loloma’s command of the line is extraordinary and there is a unique freshness and spontaneity to the piece as if he suddenly had the idea, sat down and did it in fifteen inspired minutes, a beautiful thought that just came right out perfectly and fully realized,

a polished and sophisticated presentation. The feeling here of the multi-colored form being suspended or floating in space and time is lovely and otherworldly, at once harmonious and peaceful.

The drawing is most beautifully and archivally island matted to show the entire paper sheet and framed under

“TruVue” conservation “Museum” glass in a finely hand-carved and beveled light maple wood frame crafted by Goldleaf Framemakers of Santa Fe, Santa Fe’s finest fine art framers. The drawing’s sight size is 8" in height and 10 1/2" in width and the framed dimensions are 14 1/4" in height and 17 1/4" in width. The drawing is in excellent original condition and particularly so given its thirty-plus years of age. The drawing is properly signed "Loloma" at the lower right in a signature quite similar in appearance to his jewelry signature.

This drawing is a fresh and lovely Modern Abstract work from one of America’s greatest Modern artists,

who in his day job also happened to be one of the world’s greatest and most innovative jewelers of all time.


Eighteen year-old Charles Loloma in one of the Indian Court galleries of the Federal Building, Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco, 1939.

Photo source and © Denver Art Museum, Native Arts Department. Reproduced in "Loloma, Beauty is His Name", by Martha Hopkins Struever, Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe, 2005, pp. 5.