Rick Bartow, one of the region’s most striking and accomplished artists, died on April 2 at the age of 69 from complications arising from congestive heart failure.
Bartow's sculptures, paintings and prints have shown everywhere from the White House to the Smithsonian, and they hang in museum collections around the country.
His boldly colorful, emotive, and idiosyncratic works refuse to be contained by medium or style or even species. Inspired by his Native American heritage and travels to Mexico, Japan, and beyond, his works depict beings that blend the human and the animal. They are creatures on the cusp of the material and the spiritual world, like stories and myths made flesh.
"We all are given a gift," Bartow told Think Out Loud last year during a major retrospective of his work at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene. "My job is to be an artist. As I tell my son, who's a hip-hop artist — I told him early on that we were given a blessing, and we were given a curse. Because sometimes it's not much fun, but you have to do it."
When we first heard Bartow was not well in February, we invited Bartow’s longtime friend and gallerist, Charles Froelick, into the studio to talk about his legacy. You can hear the conversation above.
The retrospective "Rick Bartow: Things You Know But Cannot Explain" is currently showing at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and will open in the fall at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe before going on to shows in Phoenix Pullman, and Los Angeles.
A public memorial service will be held on April 30 at 2 p.m. at the Newport Performing Arts Center in Newport, Oregon.