More –– and more authentic –– Native American art may soon be making its way to Main Street in Joseph.
The Josephy Center for Arts and Culture has received a large grant from the Oregon Community Foundation to engage a Plateau Indian Artist to add his or her work to the bronze streetscape that the city already displays.
Joseph is named after Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph, as is the annual rodeo. In the past several years, local foundries and galleries, working with city officials, have developed a streetscape that features a dozen bronze sculptures. The city has recently been designated by the state of Oregon an ‘art district.’”
“Four of the dozen bronze sculptures currently on Main Street depict Indians; none of them are the work of tribal artists,” said project manager Rich Wandscneider. “The Joseph Center, with its unique position as a window between local people and descendants of tribal people who once lived here, wrote the grant, and, along with tribal representatives, will select an artist to do the work.”
The Josephy Center is named after Alvin M. Josephy, Jr. the noted historian of the Nez Perce and long-time advocate for American Indians. The matter of names Joseph and Josephy is purely coincidental, “but it is a nice coincidence,” Wandschneider said.
The center is home to a library of books that Josephy collected over his long career. Many of the books deal with Plateau Indian culture and history, and students and writers come frequently to explore Indian themes and share their work with local and visiting audiences.
The center has a large exhibit space, and for the last four years has devoted a June show to Indian art and culture, including a show of “gift art” curated by the Nez Perce National Historical Park, another of Crows Shadow art prints, and this summer one of historical photos of the Nez Perce gathered from the National Park, the University of Idaho, and the Wallowa History Center.
In June 2018 Josephy will host an exhibit prepared by the curators at the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute on the Umatilla Reservation.
Tribal artists interested in the opportunity have until Jan. 15 to send resumes and portfolios to the center. The project calls for three-dimensional public art but is not restricted to bronze sculpture –– the medium is artist’s choice. Up to three artists will each receive $1,000 and six weeks to develop proposals for a sculpture to stand in the Josephy Center courtyard or on Joseph’s adjacent Main Street. One artist will then receive one-third of the $25,000 award and have a year to complete the project.