Native Artist Oreland Joe, Navajo Ute
Oreland continues, "My father was an artist, and my aunts and uncles were all bead workers and painters." Adds
Hyrum of Farmington, N.M.: "I think I always knew I was going to be an artist, but I didn't get serious until about
[four] years ago." Not that he was pushed in that direction by his father. "We gave all our kids choices," Oreland
says, "but I knew he was an artist all along. All our kids are."
Both father and son depict scenes from their Navajo and Ute heritage, yet they differ in their primary medium.
Although Hyrum has done sculptures, he became interested in painting after taking life-drawing classes at Mesa
(Ariz.) Community College. "I got fascinated by the figure," he says, "and started doing oil paintings, mostly
Southwestern native American subjects. I don't get me same reeling [from sculpting] that I do painting. I'm more
comfortable with painting.
Oreland continues, "I call it my calling." Painting was also Oreland's calling early in his career until he went to
France for six weeks as a hoop dancer in 1978. "On my days off, I'd go to the galleries, the Louvre or Versailles,"
he recalls. "I didn't think much about sculpture, but it was so appealing it almost burned in my mind."
While Hyrum is still learning, his father is looking for more challenges. "He knows what a painting should look like,"
Hyrum says of his father. "Every time I finish a painting, I go by the studio and show him and ask him for a
critique. I've learned a lot from my dad." Says Oreland: "I've been working in day since 1986, I just want to press
and press to see what else can be done in bronze. That's what I'm interested in, creating something different."
The Joe family art tradition might expand to another generation. Hyrum's son, Ouray Haataley Joe (named after
the Ute peace chief Ouray; haataley is Navajo for "singer"), was born December 2, 2002. His mother, Celinda, is a
daughter of Lucy McKelvey, one of the premier Navajo potters. "We don't know what he's going to be," Oreland
says, "but we know he's going to have talent." Copyright 2012
Deats, L. Contemporary Native American Artists. 2012.
Reno, D. Contemporary Native American Artists. 1995.
Schaaf, G. American Indian Jewelry I: 1200 Artist Biographies.