For the 2020 edition of Frieze Masters, Garth Greenan Gallery is pleaesd to present I See Red, an online solo-exhibition of works by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. The eleven paintings in the exhibition provide an overview of Smith’s work between 1992 and 1998, a unique and innovative period in the artist’s practice. During that time, Smith began her famous series I See Red, further extending and elaborating her use of red as a signature of Native American identity. The saturated red of paintings, such as I See Red: Mutton Stew (1995), I See Red: Petroglyph Park (1996), and I See Red: Grandma! Grandma! (Red in the Hood) (1998), performs simultaneous acts of affirmation and resistance.
Each work in I See Red is distinguished by a unique mix of media and collaged text on canvas. I See Red: Grandma! Grandma! (Red in the Hood) (1998) presents the outline of a Christmas tree doused in dripping red paint—simultaneously recalling blood and fire. The urgent, sanguine scene is exaggerated by a panicked headline: “Grandma! Grandma!,” possibly alluding to Mother Earth in peril. A quote from Bill McKibben’s The End of Nature confirms the subject, “The greenhouse effect is the first environmental problem we can’t escape by moving to the woods.” Despite the frantic and serious subject, Smith makes space for humor, including a puzzling quote from Ronald Reagan, “Eighty percent of pollution is caused by plants and trees,” along with ads like, “If you can’t see every plot twist coming, rush to your optometrist now.” Obviously, the plot twist of the story referenced by the painting’s title, Little Red Riding Hood, is that grandma turns out to be a wolf. Such is the structure of our environmental crisis. In the end, it is not Mother Nature that is ultimately in peril, but us.
In I See Red: House II (1995) the artist depicts a clash of perspectives on that foundational human concept housing. A painted tipi is decorated with a polyphony of newspaper clippings— “Pssst! Need a Great Mortgage?” and “It’s the Lease You Can Do?”—foregrounding America’s runaway financialization of shelter. “Whose House Is This Anyway?” asks another headline, possibly alluding to the scant reservations to which the descendants of America’s first human inhabitants are now relegated.
Smith’s I See Red: Petroglyph Park (1996) juxtaposes pictographs with cartoons, found images, and newspaper clippings. A cartoon car traverses the canvas, and a news clipping reads “Making $ense of it all.” Beginning in the mid-80s, Albuquerque city officials and property developers fought to extend the six-lane highway Paseo Del Norte through the Petroglyph National Monument, a site sacred to Pueblo Indians. The pictographic figure in the center of Smith’s composition has its arms raised, as if in surrender, but Native Americans, environmentalists, and other protesters fought tirelessly to protect the site. Taxonomic drawings of flowers and fish show through the layers of paint, placing the battle for the park within a larger context of the Western conquest of nature. A prophetic headline reads, “An ‘Inevitable’ Conclusion.” Though activists’ efforts delayed the project for nearly two decades, the highway was eventually extended in the early 2000s. Smith’s I See Red series activates a racialized discourse that might otherwise go unquestioned by reframing a dominant cultural metaphor within Smith’s specific aesthetic and political critique.
Born in 1940 at the St. Ignatius Indian Mission on her reservation, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith is an enrolled Salish member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation, Montana. Smith received an Associate of Arts Degree at Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington in 1960, a BA in Art Education from Framingham State College, Massachusetts in 1976, and an MA in Visual Arts from the University of New Mexico in 1980. Since the late ’70s, Smith has had over 50 solo exhibitions, including at Kornblee Gallery (1979, New York), Bernice Steinbaum Gallery (1990, New York), Steinbaum Krauss Gallery (1992, 1995, 1998, New York), and Jan Cicero Gallery (2000 and 2002, Chicago). In 2004, the Milton Hershey School Art Museum (Hershey, Pennsylvania) opened Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Made in America which traveled to Keene State College (Keene, New Hampshire).
Smith’s work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Quito, Ecuador; the Museum of Mankind, Vienna, Austria; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Garth Greenan Gallery is pleased to represent Jaune Quick-to-See Smith.