Doug Hyde in Full Flourish
Doug and I happened upon the art scene at about the same time, my gallery in Santa Fe was a little behind him maybe. That was 1972, and his sculptures had a small, but budding following in Scottsdale.
Over the next few years Scottsdale was where most of the money for contemporary western art was coming from. About 20 collectors held up that market, and if there had been an art marquee in town someplace, a few names would have been at the top: Eddie Basha, Henry Topf, the wonderful widow Kieckhefer, Kay Miller (Miller Brewing Co), and more, but mostly Eddie Basha, who owned a large chain of grocery stores.
Doug and I were a good combination, and we serviced those Arizona clients with an adroitness and polish the likeness of which I never witnessed again. Doug made hundreds of stone sculptures, Scottsdale wanted them, and I did the accommodating.
My wife and I liked Doug’s work so much we kept two pieces for ourselves.
This alabaster lady is not tall, just 2’, but she’s really heavy. That’s why she has been sitting on our living room fireplace without moving for almost 30 years. I couldn’t lift even half of her. She was isolated and lonesome. But then our great-granddaughter Arden came along, and at age two, fell in love with Lady Pretty Blanket. That’s what I named the stone pueblo woman holding a pot. When the house was too quiet, we’d look over there and see Arden and “Lady” sitting side by side talking to each other, and sometimes hugging. So of course we gave the sculpture to Arden, but she can’t take possession until my wife and I are gone. Ha!
Doug Hyde is mostly Nez Perce, and he possesses bold native features and a strong code of ethics. During the many years we worked together, mostly without contracts, there were nothing but handshakes and pleasantness.
My other Doug Hyde sculpture is 27” tall. It epitomizes a dignified Nez Perce chief whose name has long been forgotten. His feather fan and drop-alongside ear rings testify as to his stature in the tribe.
He stands facing the wall in my kitchen now because the sight reminds me of the great Henry Farny painting, The Song of the Singing Wire.
To me, both figures personify the west at a threshold moment when the first faint sound of change was beginning to resonate across the soundless mountains. The western atmosphere was moving fast to make room for the “giant horse that gallops on iron rails.” There’s the same sadness in the painted Indian’s face that I notice in Doug’s sculpture.
Can you see tears of sorrow building in the eyes of those two Plains warriors? I can, and I wish my inadequate words about that sentiment were more eloquent.
Joe died at age 102 and was the last War Chief of the Crow Tribe. His great uncle, White Man Runs Him, was a scout for General Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Many years ago, Joe said to me in a wistful moment, “When I was just a little Indian kid running around, my elders told me about our history. I asked them if the government would ever give our future back to us.” f