Providing for his people

Sculpturist and artist, Oreland Joe (left) and Southern Ute Growth Fund Art Committee member stand before the statue created by Joe, which now presides in front of the new Growth Fund administration building.
An FCI employee, guides the one-ton statue into place as the sculpture is lifted by an operator of Eagle Crane out of Durango.
The one-ton sculpture of a Ute hunter returning home from a hunt now sits at the entrance of the new Southern Ute Growth Fund building. The sculpture, by renowned sculpture/artist Oreland Joe, was installed on Monday, March 14.
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

Ute and Navajo artist, Oreland Joe of Kirtland, NM, once again adorned the Southern Ute Tribal campus with another masterpiece. The 9-foot horse and rider sculpture was installed Monday, March 14 at the east entrance of the new Southern Ute Growth Fund building.

Bob Zahradnik, Operating Director of the Growth Fund, inspired the design. He stated to Lorelei Cloud and Adam Red, of the Growth Fund Art Committee, that the hunter returns home with his kill, a mule deer draped over his horse after a successful hunt, he thus provides for his family, his people.

“That’s what the Growth Fund does for the [Southern Ute] tribe,” Zahradnik said.

Joe, a Southern Ute tribal member, was commissioned to create the sculpture. A piece of this size and as much detail that goes into creating it takes time, he said.

“It took me over a year to finish the sculpture. It took five months to sculpt the clay, and another five months to cast the mold in bronze.” 

Joe presented the art committee a maquette, a 15-inch miniature scaled model, of what the full-sized statue would eventually look like when completed.

Joe said the direction the statue sits was important.

“The hunter is heading north, the direction of home for the Utes, he’s heading back home,” he said.

The varying colors of the bronze were achieved by spraying it with a sulfur primer. The horse, the Ute hunter and the buck all are various shades of the natural bronze color.

“It’s a heat and chemical reaction that varies the shading, the more primer the darker the color. I applied a lacquer finish to withstand the elements, but the color will change slightly as it’s exposed to the elements,” Joe said.

FCI Constructors Inc., builders of the new Growth Fund building, and Eagle Crane were on hand to install the one-ton sculpture, which was transported via a flatbed trailer.

Other of his sculptures can be found around Ignacio. ‘Rolling Thunder’, the buffalo sculpture sits at the south entrance of the Sky Ute Casino Resort, as does the ‘Flute Player’, which can be found at the east entrance of the casino. There is also a ‘Ute Family’ that greets visitors to the casino inside the west entrance.

Joe is a world-renowned sculpture/artist; he received the distinct honor of becoming the first Native American artist to be a member of the famed organization “Cowboy Artist of America” CA.

In 1996, he was commissioned by the Ponca City Native American Foundation to produce a twenty-two-foot bronze sculpture of Chief Standing Bear, one of his most famous pieces of work.

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