Transcending the Image

Categories: 2019 January-February Issue, Bronze, Coleman, John, Oil, and Portrait.

When John Coleman was 43 years old, he received a phone call that changed his life.
That call was from a client, who had asked Coleman to do a construction project for him. Just as work was about to begin, however, the client received a lower bid and was going to use a different vendor. Suddenly, Coleman had three full months with nothing to do.

“It was a sign,” he says now. “I knew exactly what I had to do. It was what I had always wanted to do, but I never had time to do it. Now I had no more excuses.”

Decades had passed since Coleman had actually been an artist.

John Coleman (Arizona)

Four Bears

“Four Bears (Mato-Tope), a Mandan Chief, named for his skill as a warrior, was said to have fought with the furiousness of four bears. In the early 1830s, explorer artists George Catlin and Karl Bodmer each painted Four Bears and wrote in their journals details of his life, giving us a vivid understanding of this great chief. My portrait of Four Bears portrays him at the height of his power, wearing full regalia, face paint, and many symbols that tell the stories of his exploits as a great warrior.”

John Coleman (Arizona)

American Horse
33″ High

“American Horse was a prominent Oglala Sioux chief, who was married to Red Cloud’s daughter. Part of my inspiration for this sculpture was his famous top hat, which at the time was the ultimate symbol of white-man power. He received this as a delegate during a trip to Washington in the early 1890s. During this trip, American Horse was also gifted a Benjamin Harris Peace Medal. The hat was later decorated by the wife of American Horse, using eagle feathers, a cavalry helmet eagle plate, and an American flag. This hat is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of the Indian in Washington, D.C.”