DescriptionGENE TOBEY (American, 1945-2006) and REBECCA TOBEY (American, b.1948)
22 x 22 x 10 inches (55.9 x 55.9 x 25.4 cm)
Signed on right flank: Tobey
From 1985 until his death in 2005, Gene Tobey collaborated with his wife, Rebecca Tobey, on ceramics and bronzes depicting animals popularized in Native American legends - bears, birds, bison, deer, fish, horses, and snakes. Gene himself was the stuff of Indian country: born in Utah, he spent his early career teaching pottery and sculpture in Casper, Wyoming, and in Albany, Oregon. Later, he and Rebecca settled in Mason, Texas, producing both small-scale and monumental works, such as a 15-foot bronze bear for Baylor Law School. Distinguishing stylistic features of their work include mixed media, etched surfaces, and abstracted animal forms, all serving to reiterate themes of creation and mysticism. In Buffalo, for example, multiple sequential colors - white glaze blending into enamels into turquoise patina - suggests that the animal is being brought to life, infused with the visions painted on his back. The white coloration in Buffalo could also possibly allude to the rare white buffalo, especially prized in Plains Indian culture as a symbol of rebirth, unity, and peace. Equally totemic is the fascinating Animal Frieze Panel, where a herd of deer runs beneath a line of repeating fish, snakes, hands, and hunters. Here, the Tobeys' technique of etching stylized animal forms onto a flat surface recalls Prehistoric cave art, the animals functioning as talismans to ensure the successful hunt.
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