A bronze casting demonstration at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum

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Gerald Clarke Jr.
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Laurie Lucas writes and article featuring Gerald Clarke's work entitled, Native American artist’s style: ‘Part traditionalist, part Disneyland’.

The following are excerpts from the article.

“Gerald is somebody whose contemporary art we need to have.”

Clarke, 49, has been teaching and making mixed-media and conceptual art for decades that bears little connection to stereotypes. Instead, he creates metaphors about his tribe’s past and present customs and experiences with sculptures, acrylic paintings, drawings and performance art.

His preferred medium, he quipped, “is the kitchen sink. I have no chosen or recognizable visual style,” he wrote on his website. “I’m a California Indian: part traditionalist, part Disneyland.”

Clarke grew up poor on the 19,000-acre Cahuilla Reservation, founded in 1875, in the house built by his grandfather in 1930 with add-ons over the decades. It had no running water until 1986. Clarke bathed in the warm mineral springs, played hide-and-seek on the rock formations and chewed the pickled seed pods from the yucca plants.

“I was good with my hands,” Clarke said. From his dad, full-blooded Native American Gerald Clarke Sr., he learned early how to herd, brand, butcher and skin cattle, restring a barbed wire fence, plant orchards and split wood to heat their home.

“He was my hero,” he said of his father. “He told me to never be afraid to fail.”

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