Fetish Bowl, 1988 by Conrad House (1956-2001) Navajo
Fetish Bowl, 1988 by Conrad House (1956-2001) Navajo Nation ceramic, feathers 8" high x 11.25" diameter
Provenance: Collection of Cecil and Rose Quintana, Portland, OR
This rare and highly collectible ceramic Fetish Bowl by Conrad House was inspired by the traditional Fetish Bowls from Zuni Pueblo. The earliest Fetish Bowls were simple, black pots with fetishes of abstract animals tied to the sides or placed inside the pot. This contemporary interpretation has four wolves tied to the side of the bowl, in different colors, representing the seasons. Wolf represents protection, loyalty, and family. In the interior of the bowl is a square tile with an image of an abstracted frog surrounded by tadpoles representing fertility and regeneration.
Navajo and Oneida Nation artist Conrad House (1956-2001) played with mediums including clay, glass, ink, feathers, shells, beads, oak, acrylic, denim, canvas, photographs, water color, and leather. During the review of his exhibit at Sacred Circle Gallery in Seattle, it was noted that the exhibit looked like a group show rather than a solo show.
Joyce Szabo, Professor, Native American Art History, University of New Mexico, essay on House, she states: “Much of the complexity of imagery found in his ink drawings appears as well in House’s paintings and pastels…. The pastels allow an overlapping and intersecting of forms…. In some cases, the complexity of their intersecting angles and shapes that often fragment faces and bodies makes them even more strongly cubist in nature.”
Conrad’s pastel paintings illustrate the overlapping and interwoven animals, birds, reptiles, corn and leaves, masks, and Native American bags. They relate to his heritage and background, for example corn is a foundation in his culture, important as a food and for its pollen. This particular painting was created in honor of Conrad’s time in the Pacific Northwest. In the center section you see Mount Hood, and in the lower left corner is a nod to his solo exhibition at Quintana Galleries in Portland, OR.
Upon his death, the Conrad House Innovation Award was established through the Heard Museum Guild in Phoenix, AZ. This award is given to an artist who is grounded in traditional precepts yet shows originality, vision and innovation. This award was set up by Marcia Berman and Deanie Harlan.
Special Note:House was a member of the Grey Canyon Artists Group which included Emmi Whitehorse, Larry Emerson, Paul Willeto, and Juane Quick-To-See Smith, and exhibited extensively in the late 1970s and the 1980s.