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Oklahoma Arts CouncilOklahoma Arts Council

Conversation Between Friends

by Benjamin Harjo, Jr.

Acrylic on paper
Dimensions: 15.75 x 11.75
Gift of Dr. Mark Allen Everett, 2003

Conversation Between Friends by Benjamin Harjo, Jr.

The Artwork

Appearing non-objective upon initial inspection, Conversation Between Friends offers a playful interaction between flatly colored shapes that the viewer may find similar to the "give-and-take" of a leisurely conversation. Within these jigsaw-like shapes are lines that seem to make eyes, lips, hands, and noses. The complementary colors of red and green occupy most of the composition which makes the painting more vibrant. With Conversation Between Friends, the viewer may find an infusion of humor and fun, which are characteristics often attributed to Benjamin Harjo, Jr.'s work.

The Artist

Considered one of the nation’s leading Native American artists, Benjamin Harjo, Jr., is Seminole and Shawnee. Harjo's formal education includes two years at Santa Fe’s Institute of American Indian Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Oklahoma State University. Over the course of his career, Harjo has garnered numerous honors and awards including the 1987 Red Earth Grand Award, 1993 Heard Museum’s 34th Annual Featured Artist, Featured Artist in 1992 and 1993 for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian’s Annual Aspen Benefit, and the Gold Medal Award at the 1990 American Indian Cowboy Artists' Witchita Show.

Additionally, Harjo was honored with a commendation by former Oklahoma Governor David Walters for his selection by Absolut Vodka to represent Oklahoma in its
USA Today campaign. In 1990, he was the recipient of the Woody Crumbo Memorial Award for Excellence in Painting at Santa Fe’s Annual Indian Market, an event where Harjo has consistently received Best of Division and first place awards in various categories since 1983. One-man museum shows include the Wheelwright Museum Skylight Gallery and the Wichita Art Museum in 1991. Harjo also participated in the 1992 group show of Native American artists at the Franco-American Institute in Rennes, France.

His work has been featured in numerous regional and national publications including
Art of the West, Oklahoma Today, Southwest Art Magazine, American Indian Art, and Indian Market Magazine. Harjo's paintings and graphics have been privately collected throughout the U.S. and abroad and featured in public collections such as the Fred E. Brown Collection at the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and the Red Earth Center, both located in Oklahoma.