Frank Buffalo Hyde: Native Americana
Community Day and Gallery Walk
Frank Buffalo Hyde
Saturday, August 19, 2023
Free and Open to the Public
Painter Frank Buffalo Hyde grew up in the Onondaga Nation, where he absorbed much of the pop culture that is still central to his worldview. Throughout his career, Buffalo Hyde has presented “pop” iconography like UFOs, hamburgers, and corporate logos in parallel with Native symbology like the bison on the Onondaga reservation and Indigenous leaders and dancers.
Buffalo Hyde’s works grab attention through their bright colors and instantly recognizable iconography, but resist easy stereotyping through their embedded messages about the fragmented nature of Native life.
Native Americana is a homecoming for Buffalo Hyde, who left Central New York for New Mexico, where he studied at the Santa Fe Fine Arts Institute and the Institute of American Indian Arts. Frank Buffalo Hyde lives in Northfield, Minnesota. His work can be found in the collections of the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, the Hood Museum of Art, the Gilcrease Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, and of course, the Everson Museum of Art.
In addition to large-format paintings, Native Americana will include a variety of interactive and mixed-media installations throughout the Museum.
A Conversation with Frank Buffalo Hyde
by Jeff Macharyas, Director of Communications, Everson Museum of Art
Frank Buffalo Hyde is named after his great-grandparents — Frank Henry and Mary Buffalo — Nez Perce from Idaho. His mother is Onondaga — Beaver Clan. Frank grew up in Syracuse, attending school in LaFayette (just south of Syracuse, in Onondaga County), and spent his summers in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he was born in 1974.
“I got a well-rounded view of everything, living on both coasts,” Frank says.
While in Syracuse, he, his cousins and friends would help corral buffalo — which had a tendency to “bust out,” as Frank explains.
In his late teens, Frank belonged to a local Syracuse band, No Good Reason. “At that time, music was my life plan,” Frank remembers. He would play guitar, sing, write songs, and headlined at The Lost Horizon in Syracuse.
“We were on a double-CD with the Indigo Girls, Bonnie Raitt, and others, as part of the Honor the Earth Campaign in the late 90s,” Frank says of his band. Frank’s brief career in music included a concert gig at the Northrop Auditorium in Minnesota — one of the first to be broadcast online. But, Frank didn’t want to go on tour and decided getting married would be a better option.
Frank is married to Courtney M. Leonard, a member of Long Island’s Shinnecock Nation. She is an artist and filmmaker, who has contributed to the Offshore Art movement. Leonard’s current work embodies the multiple definitions of “breach,” an exploration and documentation of historical ties to water, whale, and material sustainability. In 2020, she became an Assistant Professor of Art and Art History at St. Olaf College, in Northfield, Minnesota, where they reside now. Before that, they lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
At 21, Frank decided to become a full-time artist. He spent ten years in what he terms his “woodshop years,” working in his studio and doing what he could in theaters, coffee shops, etc. Frank now has exhibitions in the National Museum of American Indian, Smithsonian, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Peabody Essex Museum, Autry Museum of the American West, and now, the Everson Museum of Art.
About Native Americana
Frank explains the significance of his exhibition at the Everson Museum of Art, Frank Buffalo Hyde: Native Americana: “Native Americana is an investigation of where “American” and “Native American” begin and end and where they intersect. Pop culture is reconfigured through the Native American perspective, recognizing that Native American culture has been commodified and serialized. A visual investigation of that idea reveals that there is nothing more “American” than Native American imagery or iconography.
Frank illustrates how Native American culture has been commodified in his large painting that is in response to the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai, where, in a segment termed, “Nomadic Adventures,” models came out to the catwalk in cheetah-skin bikinis and war bonnets — and that was part of the inappropriate reaction — choosing to use the war bonnet as an accessory to women’s lingerie. Native Americans are easy targets because they “are relegated to history” and homogenized, however, there are 500 tribes in North America who have their own customs and language.
Frank Buffalo Hyde: Native Americana is on view through September 10, 2023 at the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York.
Follow Frank on Instagram: @frankbuffalohyde