Fritz Scholder (October 6, 1937 – February 10, 2005) was an internationally recognized artist and painter with homes in New Mexico and Scottsdale, AZ. But his roots were sunk deep in the Midwest, where he was born in Breckenridge, Minn., on October 6, 1937. His first 13 years were spent at Wahpeton, ND; he attended school in Pierre, SD, graduating in Wisconsin.
In South Dakota, Sioux painter, Oscar Howe, influenced Scholder. Scholder studied in California with Wayne Thiebaud who gave the artist his first one-man show in 1958. In 1960 he won first prize in the Southwestern Painter’s festival and earned a BA degree from Sacramento College followed by an MFA at University of Arizona in 1964.
Scholder taught at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe until he resigned in 1969 to concentrate on painting. He also has taught at Dartmouth, California universities and Oklahoma art institutes. The State Department sent Scholder and his work to tour Europe in 1972.
His paintings range from non-objective works to series on such subjects as butterflies, Egyptian designs, American portraits, dreams and shamans. A mixture of German, English, French and Indian, Scholder resists being stereotyped as “an Indian painter.” Though his work is rooted in that background, his avid interest in subjects from jewelry making, reading, films, sculpture and mystic subjects make his work universal. Some art critics believe his powerful use of luminous color sets his work apart.
“Fritz Scholder will receive the Norsk Høstfest Humanitarian Award for his contributions to his Native American heritage and, through that, to all of us,” said Høstfest president Chester Reiten.
“We honor our own heritage, but we recognize that the Indian had a great culture of his own, a family centered lifestyle in harmony with the earth, long before Europeans came. In honoring each heritage, we strengthen us all.”
Scholder passed away February 10, 2005.