Cycles of Songs and Stories Lead to Native Images

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“I am coming to my imagery from the songs and stories, the meaning of the words and images of my imagination. I am using symbols and themes found in some of my earlier prints and paintings. This exhibit will include art from the last few years and new mixed media. The themes of songs and old time stories need to be retold to stay alive. For me, the remembering of the elders who shared those stories is a greater reason why I am drawn to the interpretations of their words. They were not the first nor will I be the last to find meaning in the traditional songs and stories.”

Frank La Pena

Insects and Other Beings, Frank LaPena, Mixed media of paper.
Insects & Other Beings, Frank LaPena, Mixed media of paper, 11.5 x 10

Born in San Francisco, California, Frank LaPena attended Federal Indian Boarding School in Stewart, Nevada.

Interest in the arts began in high school and continued through college. His paintings and sculpture reflect a deep interest and appreciation of his native heritage.

He shared this with his students whilst a professor of art and director of Native American studies at California State University, Sacramento. LaPena has exhibited extensively for the past thirty years – including the Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe, Chicago Art Institute, San Francisco Museum, Linder Museum, Stuttgart, American Arts Gallery, New York, George G. Heye Center, New York, and numerous galleries. His work has been shown at Pacific Western Traders since 1973.

A dancer, singer, and practitioner of traditional culture, it was in large part through his efforts in working with Frank Day, late Maidu elder and painter, that the Maidu Dancers and Traditionalists group came into being – starting at PWT in Folsom.

LaPena is the author of “Dream Songs and Ceremony” Reflections on Traditional California Indian Dance, published in 2004 by Heyday Books and writes on contemporary California art activities for News from Native California.

Pacific Western Traders is located in the Historic District if Folsom, open 10:00 – 5:00, Wednesday – Sunday.

Paintings & Prints

Frank LaPena

September 27 – November 16, 2008

Second Saturday Reception

October 11; 6:00 – 9:00

Courtney Puffer is a writer and art dealer, who runs Pacific Western Traders with his father, Herb, in Folsom, California. Courtney is extremely knowledgeable about native American art and customs. Sadly, Courtney passed away on 17th September, 2008, while on a business trip, but his writing lives on at NewsBlaze.