Painting of Huhuwa Katsina by Michael Kabotie [SOLD]


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Michael Kabotie, Hopi Pueblo Painter and Jeweler

This original watercolor painting was created by Hopi artist Michael Kabotie in 1959. The date identifies the piece as having been created when the artist was just 17 years old. Those who know Kabotie’s work will recognize the rarity of the image, as it has little in common with the colorful abstract style he developed in the 1960s.

This piece depicts a Huhuwa (or “Cross-Legged”) Katsina in a style that seems to have been derived from that of the earlier Hopi painters—there is neither any background nor any sort of decorative elements, which gives it the appearance of an earlier piece. The katsina itself varies quite a bit though, as earlier Hopi works often feature sharp, defined figures made of bold colors and fine outlines. Kabotie’s work is looser and more relaxed, resulting in a unique and appealing depiction of Huhuwa. It’s always exciting to see an early-career piece from a significant artist, and this one, in particular, is like nothing we’ve seen before.

Barton Wright’s Kachinas: A Hopi Artist’s Documentary provides a description of Huhuwa’s appearance and function: “Huhuwa is known as the Cross-Legged Kachina or on First Mesa, the Snare Kachina. Folklore has it that this kachina is the spirit of a man from Second Mesa, probably Mishongnovi, who had some crippling disease that left him barely able to walk… He often appears as a pair of kachinas hobbling about some village during a ceremony chattering between themselves. He is probably chosen more often as a gift-giving kachina at Powamu times than any other kachina… His clothes are always ragged and give the appearance of having been rescued from the moths in some Hopi storeroom. Yet he is always greeted with delight by all who see him.” [Wright, 1973:40]

artist signature of Michael Kabotie, Hopi Pueblo Painter and JewelerThe painting is signed Mike Kabotie and dated "59" in the lower right. It is framed in a black frame, under blue matting with an orange interior band.

Michael Kabotie (1942-2009) Lomawywesa was a Hopi artist who spent his life surrounded by great artists.  His father was Fred Kabotie, an influential painter, and a Guggenheim fellow. During his junior year of high school, Kabotie spent a summer at the University of Arizona’s Southwest Indian Art Project with Fritz Scholder, Helen Hardin, Charles Loloma, and Joe Herrera.  Like his father, Kabotie was multi-talented—he was a painter, poet, jeweler, lecturer, and silversmith. In the early 1970s, Kabotie founded a collective called the Artist Hopid with artists Terrance Talaswaima, Milland Lomakema, Delbridge Honanie, and Neil David, Sr.  Their goal was to breathe new life into traditional Hopi art forms. Their reinterpretations of traditional forms and designs are, today, highly collectible. These artists were forward-thinking individuals whose reverence for their culture informed even their more abstract works.  Kabotie passed away in 2009.

Condition: very good condition, some small discolorations and abrasions

Provenance: this painting of Huhuwa Katsina by Michael Kabotie is from a private collection

Recommended Reading: Michael’s Journey The Mystic Art of Michael Kabotie by Brigitte and Dietmar Behnke

Reference: Kachinas: A Hopi Artist’s Documentary, Barton Wright

TAGS: Hopi PuebloFred KabotieTerrance TalaswaimaMilland LomakemaDelbridge HonanieNeil David, Sr.Michael Kabotie

close up view of paiting

Michael Kabotie, Hopi Pueblo Painter and Jeweler
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