Brummett Echohawk, An Island of Redbuds on the Cimarron

Brummett Echohawk (Pawnee), An Island of Redbuds on the Cimarron, 1968, oil on canvas, 91.4 x 116.4 cm (Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa)


Brummet Echohawk, An Island of Redbuds on the Cimarron

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Key Points

  • Echohawk paints redbuds blooming on the Cimarron River in Oklahoma. Light and color take center stage in this image of the Oklahoma landscape where Echohawk and his family have lived for generations. The bright pink blossoms contrast with the dusty yellow sandbanks of the dry river. Upon closer inspection, we see there are many colors Echohawk has used to create this landscape and he has even left some areas of the canvas unpainted.
  • The impressionistic style of the painting reflects Echohawk’s interest in and study of Impressionist and Postimpressionist artists and paintings, such as those in the Art Institute of Chicago, where he studied. He said of himself, “I am a trained, classical artist . . . . No one wants to become a classical artist these days . . . it requires intensive study, of the masters, anatomy, of life.” He rejected the label of “Indian artist” or “Indian painter” that was in use at the time because he found it problematic and reductionistic. He adapted his classical training by using a Bowie knife to create large buildups of paint, and as a way of diverging from the postimpressionist painter Vincent van Gogh’s use of a palette knife. 
  • This landscape has deep personal meaning for Echohawk because this is where he grew up. His family, who is Pawnee, had been relocated from their original ancestral homelands and given an allotment of land here near the Cimarron River, and it is likely that it reminded him of his ancestral homelands. His painting not only captures what the River and land looked like in the dry season, but also captured the soul of the land.

Go Deeper

Learn more about this painting at the Gilcrease Museum

Kristin Youngbull, Brummet Echohawk: Pawnee Thunderbird and Artist (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2015).

Kristin Youngbull, “Brummett Echohawk: Chaticks-si-chaticks,”  PhD diss., (Arizona State University, 2012). 

More to Think About

How do you see Echohawk’s impressionistic style relating to or diverging from artists like Claude Monet or Vincent van Gogh?  

Take a moment to reflect on how you might be connected to the land around you. Are there visible markers or natural elements that tie you to the land in some way?

Artists often become well-known for a single style or mode of creating art. What does it mean for our understanding of Echohawk that he is most well-known for his realistic artworks, such as Leaving for the Spring Buffalo Hunt and Ruling His Son, Pawnee Warrior (both also in the Gilcrease Museum collection), but he preferred his impressionistic ones?

Explore the diverse history of the United States through its art. Seeing America is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Alice L. Walton Foundation.