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story.lead_photo.caption The Museum of the Red River hosts two ongoing exhibits. Pictured is artwork made of beads and beeswax from the "Los Huicholes" exhibit, named for a native people living in western Mexico. Photo by Submitted to the Texarkana Gazette / Texarkana Gazette.

IDABEL, Okla. — Two ongoing exhibits at the Museum of the Red River showcase both a longtime local talent and the artistry of native people who call the mountains of western Mexico home.

Henry Moy, MoRR director, said the museum reopened in mid-May and visitors have been consistent with roughly 1,000 people per week to see these exhibits and more.

The "Los Huicholes" exhibit up through Sept. 6 is named for a native people who live in settlements nestled in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. They practice an art form that uses colorful beads and yarn.

Moy said the area where the Huichol live is remote, allowing this pre-Hispanic culture the means to maintain their traditional art.

The Museum of the Red River hosts two ongoing exhibits. Pictured is artwork made of beads and beeswax from the "Los Huicholes" exhibit, named for a native people living in western Mexico.
Photo by submitted photo
"They've actually managed to be very traditional, despite 500 years of Hispanic (presence) . They're sort of also the peyote people that are known for making the pilgrimage," Moy said. "Their art is really cool. They're really the only ones who do beadwork this way."

The Huichol press the beads rather than stringing them, using beeswax to coat objects and then apply the beads.

"They also do the same thing with colorful yarn," Moy said. "If you've ever seen them actually do what they call yarn paintings, it is really an amazing thing to watch."

Typically, the designs are conceived in their mind, not drawn first, he said.

The Huichol artwork displayed comes courtesy of Lee Spruell, a retired teacher who's worked with the Huichol and donated works to the museum.

"He has been going back and forth for the last 40 years to several different villages," Moy said, noting that even after this show closes they'll be rotating Huichol art into the gallery space.

"Art in Community: The Harold Stevenson Collections" continues through Aug. 23 and features an artist, the late Harold Stevenson, who grew up here and achieved his fame elsewhere, but forever called Idabel, Oklahoma, home

Because of the COVID pandemic and MoRR's temporary closure, this exhibit was extended. Moy said they're producing an exhibit guide and catalog to accompany the show.

"We'll have it available before the show shuts down," Moy said, noting the show includes more than 50 works made by Stevenson.

"It's a combination of everything. There's a bronze sculpted head of him, self-portrait Because he had this 55-year career as a painter, you can really see all the different periods of all the different things that were happening in modern art and how it influenced his work," Moy said.

The exhibit includes an early chalk drawing from when he was just a youngster and then an ink drawing of a person in Idabel, one of the last works Stevenson did.

"We have all these paintings in between. There's some political commentary," Moy said. It's an eclectic mix that covers the full range of Stevenson's art.

(Admission is free. The MoRR is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday at 812 E. Lincoln Road. More info: MuseumOfTheRedRiver.org or 580-286-3616.)

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