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“Ceremonial Priest”, an exceptional cubist-style

Hopi painting by Michael Kabotie (Lomawywesa),1974

ex: Patricia Janis Broder Collection

With this extraordinary painting we can see Hopi artist Michael Kabotie (1942-2009) taking his place

alongside the great modernist, cubist artists of the 20th century, European creative giants such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan Gris.

Michael Kabotie was one of the most dynamic and influential Hopi artists of the 20th Century. Son of the legendary artist, educator and Co-Founder of the Hopi Arts and Crafts Guild, Fred Kabotie (1900-1986), Michael grew up immersed in art. He grew up in Shungopavi village on the Hopi Second Mesa and attended Haskell Indian School in Lawrence, Kansas. 

In his junior year, after being invited to participate in the University of Arizona’s Southwest Indian Art Project, Michael spent the summer there in Tucson attending the project alongside fellow Native American artists, Fritz Scholder, Helen Hardin, Charles Loloma and Joe Hererra. In 1973, Michael co-founded the “Artists Hopid”, a collective group of five young Hopi painters who were experimenting in contemporary interpretations of traditional historic Hopi art forms. This group worked together for the next five years. Michael’s own paintings were his own modern-day personal interpretations of the work of ancient Hopi kiva mural painters of the now-ruined villages of Awatovi and Kawaika-a, as well as the painting traditions and designs of the Sikyatki-era (1375-1625 A.D.) Hopi pottery painters.

“We the Hopi have a lot to offer from a spiritual standpoint and as a living force. We are hoping that from the presentation of our traditions and from the interpretation of the Hopi way in our art and paintings a new direction can come for American spirituality.”

-Michael Kabotie

Michael grew to become an artistic polymath of sorts developing not only into an accomplished painter but an exceptional jewelry maker as well. His inventive and striking Hopi silver overlay jewelry (SEE BELOW), a form his famous Father Fred originally helped to create, is highly prized all over the world. While he very much enjoyed making jewelry, Michael always said that his true artistic heart and soul was in his paintings. In addition to painting himself Michael also taught painting, jewelry and Hopi culture as well, participating annually for many years in teaching seminars at The Idyllwild Arts Center in Idyllwild, California.

Michael Kabotie, c. 2003

Photo source and © The Los Angeles Times

Several examples of Michael Kabotie’s outstanding silver jewelry.

"Artist, poet, 'mythical archaeologist,' ritual clown, and trickster-Michael Kabotie explored the journeys of humankind by playfully meshing his own Hopi traditions

with myth and imagery from around the world.”

-Museum of Northern Arizona

Let’s talk for a moment about this painting’s exceptional provenance. It was collected, most likely directly from Michael Kabotie himself, by the distinguished Hopi painting authority Patricia Janis Broder (1935-2002) who, in addition to assembling an extremely impressive collection of Hopi paintings, literally wrote the book on the subject when she authored her definitive classic work, “Hopi Painting, the World of the Hopis”, Brandywine Press, NY, 1978. Today, this book is considered essentially to be the “Bible” of Hopi painting. As pictured below,

the “Ceremonial Priest” painting is featured as Plate 12-4 on page 254 of this book.

The painting measures 20” by 16” (sight) and its framed dimensions are 20 1/2” by 16 1/2”. The painting

is in excellent original condition and it is very beautifully framed to the highest archival conservation

standards under “TruVue” conservation museum glass in a handsome custom made light beveled maple wood

frame by Goldleaf Framemakers of Santa Fe, Santa Fe’s finest fine art framers. The painting is properly

signed “Lomawywesa”, Michael Kabotie’s Hopi name, which translates in English to “Walking in harmony”

and is dated 1974 at the lower right.

This unique, artistically and culturally powerful painting would be a fine addition to any art collection,

public or private, anywhere, a fascinating look into the extraordinary talents and infinitely fertile mind of

this brilliant multi-faceted Native American artist.

Price $4,150


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This 1974 “Ceremonial Priest” painting is done in mixed media; gouache and watercolor on brown paperboard

and it uses a wonderful combination of abstracted Hopi imagery and iconography, from Kachina masks to various stylized human faces, arms and feet of what appear to be ancient Aztec, Toltec or Mayan stone statues or idols, all arrayed in an angular Cubist-style compositional arrangement.

The ancient Hopi origins and migration myth of the Hopi people emerging from the earth in a canyon in present-day Mexico and eventually migrating north to the Hopi mesas in present day Arizona was of intense interest to Michael Kabotie and he traveled to the region frequently and always marveled at the fact that he could converse with the people there in his Native Hopi language and be understood by people who only spoke their indigenous Nahuatl language which to him was another strong affirmation of the deep truth of the Hopi’s ancient origin/migration story, that they had originally come from there and the people still there were related to them.

For a fuller account of this origin/migration story see Oswald (White Bear) Fredericks and Frank Waters,

“Book of the Hopi” Viking,1963.

Pablo Picasso, "Girl with a Mandolin”, 1910

Photo source and © The Museum of Modern Art, New York