You have to put your whole heart into it and place all of your faith in yourself, because art is not a safe career." That's easy for Red Lodge, Mont., artist Kevin Red Star to say, as his painting career has taken him far beyond his grade-school art class¿where he wasn't allowed to speak his native language or wear traditional garb¿when his only outlet for cultural expression was his art.
Red Star was born on a Crow reservation in 1943 to Amy Bright Wings, a bead worker who decorated costumes for tribal ceremonies and social dances, and Wallace Red Star, a musician and the tribe's chief game warden. There were no televisions on the reservation, so Red Star spent most of his spare time hunting, fishing, skiing and hiking¿and gaining an intense appreciation for the outdoors.
Each of Red Star's paintings portrays the beauty of his Crow culture and its traditions. Red Star paints peaceful reservation scenes with warm colors, as well as portraits of the strong Crow people painted in bold, vibrant hews.
Red Star's approach is atypical of artists. He has a strict workday and says matter-of-factly, "It's like if you want to go skiing. You just prepare yourself with the proper gear, and you set out for the day. You paint and paint, and soon you have a piece of art."
After three decades of portraying his culture through painting, Red Star has developed a following. He is represented in a number of museums in the U.S. and abroad, including the Whitney Museum of Western Art, the Denver Art Museum and the Museum of the Rockies. Two years ago, he opened the Kevin Red Star Gallery in Red Lodge to critical acclaim.
If you visit him at his gallery in Red Lodge, you'll likely meet his daughter (and manager), Merida, and grandson Dusty Path. To find out more about Red Star's work, call 800-858-2584 or visit www.kevinredstargallery.com.