Rick Bartow (Wiyot) was born in 1946 in Newport,
Oregon. In 1969, he earned his bachelor's degree in Art Education at
Western Oregon State College. After serving in the Vietnam War, Bartow
began a personal exploration of his life through art — a journey that
has taken him across the face of the globe and earned him international
Although his art is influenced by diverse cultural traditions
and a cosmopolitan array of aesthetic influences, the raw and primal
energy that animates Bartow's work is drawn directly from his Native
American heritage, where mythological themes of human/animal transformation
figure prominently. These other-worldly narratives of human embodiment
in animal form serve as an artistic metaphor for Bartow's often visceral,
always evolving, exploration of self and Native identity.
"Using Coyote's tail for a brush and Raven's beak to make
my marks, I am blind to my destination".
In 2003, Bartow was featured in Continuum — 12 Artists at
the National Museum of the American Indian's George Gustav Heye Center,
New York, NY.
My Eye, a 15-year, traveling retrospective, opened in
2002, at Willamette University's Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem,
Recent international exhibitions include Rick Bartow, Fisher
Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (1999); Rick Bartow Drawings: Flowers
and Animals, Yanagisawa Gallery, Saitama City, Japan; and Portaits,
Azabu Kasumicho, Tokyo, Japan (1997). Rick Bartow is represented exclusively
by Froelick Gallery in Portland, Oregon.
Citing Marc Chagall's dictum,
"Let us try to discover what is authentic in our lives," Bartow writes,
"The next step is to attempt an expression of that authenticity. I have
recently begun to employ more than one figure in my work — a conscious
effort to remove the figurative element from a psychological to a more
physically involved state. It also stems from a desire to see people
At times I understand where an image originates, but more often than
not it is the initial result of an unconscious use of line and form.
The energy of the work sometimes becomes too active for a small format.
The gestures need to utilize a larger area. As life become richer and
more dear, the drawings become larger, more involved, the imagery more
complex, and the color more intense, in an effort to express what I
feel is authentic."