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Two extraordinary original Hopi abstract pen
and ink drawings by Charles Loloma, c. 1970-80
Ex: Charles and Georgia Loloma personal collection,
Hotevilla and Phoenix, AZ and Santa Fe, NM
The world-renowned Hopi jewelry artist Charles Loloma (1921-1991) actually began his long artistic career as a young teenager in the 1930’s working as a painting assistant for the renowned Hopi artist and art educator, Fred Kabotie (1900-1986). The young Loloma had been recognized and recruited by Kabotie at an early age as something of an artistic prodigy and in this capacity, he helped paint a beautiful series of large Hopi Kachina murals for the landmark Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco in 1938-39 several of which are pictured here. In addition to his highly-accomplished painting skills, Loloma went on to undertake a serious study of ceramics in the late 1940’s and, along with his first wife, Otellie Pasiyeva Loloma (1921-1993), became a distinguished professional art pottery maker.
An early Charles Loloma Kachina mural formerly in The Hopi High School now on display at The Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.
At left, eighteen year-old Charles Loloma in one of the Indian Court galleries of the Federal Building, Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco, 1939. At right, Charles Loloma’s Hopi kachina paintings on display at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco.
Left and right photo source and © Denver Art Museum, Native Arts Department. Left photo reproduced in "Loloma, Beauty is His Name", by Martha Hopkins Struever, Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe, 2005, pp. 5.
Only starting in the very late 1940’s and early 1950’s did Loloma begin his initial experimentations with the jewelry-making which would eventually become his defining artistic career and legacy, yet through it all he kept on making drawings; of abstract compositions such as these, Hopi village scenes, architectural renderings, landscapes, personal portraits and occasionally, of Hopi kachinas. There is no solid evidence that Loloma ever sold his drawings in any kind of commercial manner, however, he mostly made them for himself to keep in his own personal collection as with these two pieces or gave them as gifts to various friends, colleagues and family so in the marketplace they are quite scarce and very difficult to come by. The Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona staged a wonderful exhibition of some of these drawings from Charles and his second wife Georgia’s personal collection along with some jewelry and pottery pieces in 2015 entitled "Loloma: Expressions in Metal, Ink and Clay". A copy of the small catalog The Heard Museum created for this exhibition will be included with the sale of these drawings.
“If there is beauty in a piece of art, a person can absorb it and become more beautiful.”
And not only are they extremely rare, Loloma’s drawings are simply remarkable in their breathtaking quality
and beauty. We have had perhaps only a dozen or so of Charles’ drawings in all over the past 35-plus years
and in our opinions, these are some of the finest. To the extent that a work on paper can be described as "precious" there is a precious quality about these pieces. They are also "jewel-like" in their appearance and considering the source that is hardly an accident. The overall precision and assurance of line, detail and sophisticated technique evident in these works are just astounding. The figural forms are remarkably beautiful and graceful, seemingly floating eternally in time and space evoking stylized images of Hopi prayer plumes or spirit figures. On close examination, one can see that Loloma drew the figures partially in the negative which is to say that he left open spaces in the design which are as much an important part of the drawings as are the solid areas which he filled in. There is a lightness and airiness to the designs that adds to the floating ethereal feeling.
The drawings are done in brown felt tip pen on off-white art paper sheets, one of which is somewhat darker than the other and the drawings each measure 12” in height by 8” in width (sight). The framed dimensions are 18” in height by 14” in width. The drawings are properly and beautifully signed “Loloma” at the lower right and lower center and in a lovely and imaginative touch, Loloma beautifully and subtly incorporated his signatures into the overall designs. The drawings are in excellent original condition overall. One drawing has several minor folds or slight creasing visible in the paper. The drawings have both been archivally island matted to the highest conservation standards and very beautifully-framed in custom-made hand-carved natural maple wood frames by Goldleaf Framemakers of Santa Fe, Santa Fe’s finest fine art framers, using state-of-the-art ultraviolet light-resistant "TruVue” Museum conservation glass.
These exquisite drawings are true and rare treasures in every way; world-class original artworks made by a world-class artist and kept for years in his own personal private collection. They are worthy of an honored place in any collection anywhere.
At center, The Heard Museum's catalog of the exhibition, "Loloma: Expressions in Metal, Ink and Clay", 2015.