Gerald Clarke: Falling Rock
Bill Anderson, Rock Hudson, c 1950s-1960s
Collection Palm Springs Art Museum, Gift of Dorothy Anderson, ©Palm Springs Art Museum
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Gerald Clarke in his Anza studio branding works on paper, July 2019. Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber.
Gerald Clarke: Falling Rock is the first survey of contemporary Native American
artist Gerald Clarke’s career, featuring approximately eighty artworks created
over the past twenty-five years.
A tribal member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians, Clarke utilizes wit and humor to expose historical and present-day injustice found in critical social, economic, and environmental issues facing our world.
Install view, Continuum Basket: Pivat (Tobacco), 2018, aluminum beer and soda cans mounted on satellite dish, 92 inches diameter x 18 inches. Collection Palm Springs Art Museum, Museum commission with funds provided by Loren G. Lipson, M.D., 2018.7. Photo by Lance Gerber.
Continuum Basket: Pivat (Tobacco), 2018, aluminum beer and soda cans mounted on satellite dish, 92 inches diameter x 18 inches. Collection Palm Springs Art Museum, Museum commission with funds provided by Loren G. Lipson, M.D., 2018.7. Photo by Lance Gerber.
Gerald Lloyd Clarke, Jr. (born 1967) is an artist, cowboy, university professor, tribal leader, and Indian (the artist’s preferred identity). He lives on the Cahuilla Indian reservation with his family on their ancestral land near Anza, California (approximately fifty miles from the Palm Springs Art Museum), where he raises cattle as his father, grandfather, and other Cahuilla Indians have done since the Spanish Colonial period over 250 years ago.
Combining various media in his sculptures, paintings, and installations, Clarke derives artistic inspiration from his homeland’s cultural heritage and its desert and mountain environment, expressing traditional ideas in surprising and contemporary forms. His diverse artistic output resonates with histories of assemblage, pop, conceptual, and politically engaged art produced by both Native and non-native artists.
Installation view at Palm Springs Art Museum, 2020. Photo by Lance Gerber.
Branded: American Amnesia, 2019, scorched paper, 18 3/4 × 14 1/2 inches.
Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber.
Branded: Indian Painters & White Patrons, 2019, clothbound book scorched with dollar sign brand,
10 1/4 × 8 1/4 × 1 inches. Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber.
The title of the exhibition comes from a childhood experience. As Clarke drove with his father through the mountains to the Cahuilla reservation near Anza, he noticed several “falling rock” warning signs and asked his father what they meant.
According to Clarke, “He told me that Falling Rock was the name of the last ‘free’ Indian that never surrendered to the white man . . . and wherever you see a falling rock sign, it marks a place where Falling Rock was seen attacking passing cars. As a kid, I would always look to see if I could see him, angry and free . . . and it is in this spirit that I create art.”
(right) Cahuilla Sounds, Cahuilla Lives, 1997, softball bat and painted gourd with sound, 10 inches diameter × 38 inches. Photo by Lance Gerber.
(left) Rattle Painting: Blanket, 2012, acrylic on canvas with DVD discs, abalone shell, stones, and raffia, 49 × 65 3/4 inches. Collection of Ernest and June Siva.
Cahuilla Sounds, Cahuilla Lives, 1997, softball bat and painted gourd with sound, 10 inches diameter × 38 inches.
Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber.
Native Forms, 1994, oil, acrylic, and oil stick on canvas, 62 × 62 inches.
Courtesy of Cahuilla Band of Indians, Anza, California. Photo by Lance Gerber.
One Tract Mind, 2009, installation; canvas, artificial turf, wood, and acrylic paint, dimensions variable. Photo by Lance Gerber.
Nesun ˋAchaˋma / I Am Happy, 2001 / 19, text in Cahuilla and English,
enamel paint on metal, 30 × 30 inches. Photograph by Scott Slaven.
ETHNOPOLY, 1999–2002, installation; metal folding chairs, folding card table, game board, and cardboard box with paper cards, plastic game pieces, and play money, game board; wood, acrylic paint, polyester resin, vinyl lettering, and oil enamel, Installation dimensions variable; board 24 × 24 inches. Photo by Lance Gerber.
LEAKS, 2018, cardboard, Stormtrooper dolls with craft foam and paint, headphones, audio cables,
and sound, dimensions variable. Photo by Lance Gerber.
TREK, 2003, video (color and sound), 9:08 minutes; leather belt with brass eyelets and metal buckle, 50 1/2 × 4 inches; t-shirt (cotton and polyester) with vinyl letters, 30 × 22 inches; plaster column remnants with steel chains, carabiners, and eye bolts, dimensions variable. Photo by Lance Gerber.
Monument Series: To Those Before, 1997 / 2019, exit sign, resin, fabric, wood, and ceramic, 48 × 14 × 14 inches.
Photo by Lance Gerber.
Every community in the United States owes its existence and vitality to people from around the world. Some were brought here against their will, some were drawn here in hope of a better life, and some have lived on this land for more generations than can be counted.
Recognition of the many layers of our history is critical to building mutual respect and connection across all barriers of heritage and differences.
Palm Springs Art Museum respectfully acknowledges the ancestral homelands of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the other sovereign Indian Nations of Southern California. We recognize their ongoing cultural and spiritual connection to this land—past, present, and future.
Generous support is provided by the Herman & Faye Sarkowsky Charitable Foundation, Edeltraud McCarthy, Roswitha Kima Smale, the Cahuilla Band of Indians, and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.
Additional funding is provided by Ellen Donaldson and The Sam & Diane Stewart Family Foundation.
Exhibition Season Sponsors: David Kaplan & Glenn Ostergaard, Brautigam-Kaplan Foundation; the Herman & Faye Sarkowsky Charitable Foundation; the Mary Ingebrand-Pohlad Foundation; and Yvonne & Steve Maloney.
Unless otherwise noted, all artworks in the exhibition are by Gerald Clarke and lent by the artist.
Gerald Clarke studio, Anza, CA, 2019. Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber.