Curator Ben Mitchell is putting together an ambitious traveling retrospective exhibit of the works of Spokane artist Ric Gendron. Click here for a previous column detailing how this exhibit died during the MAC's financial crisis and was then miraculously revived.
Yet neither Mitchell nor Gendron can track down four powerful and uncommonly important paintings that, by any measure, should be included in the exhibit. These are part of Gendron's dark “Indian Boarding School Series,” which were a prominent part of a 2002 exhibit at Whitworth University. They were later displayed for sale at the Tinman Gallery in Spokane.
There were five paintings in the series. Gendron knows what happened to only one of them, “Inside Looking Out.” He was frustrated that it didn't sell, and he needed a new canvas, so he painted over it.
The other four? Nobody, including Gendron, has a record of where they ended up. Mitchell suspects they are hanging in homes somewhere.
I'm posting photos of the four paintings here. If anyone out there owns them and knows where they might be found, they should contact Ben Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These are particularly important pieces because of the Indian boarding school theme. Gendron is an enrolled member of Colville and Umatilla tribes. His mother was sent from her home on the Colville Reservation to Indian boarding schools in DeSmet, Idaho and Chemawa, Ore.
The depth of emotion he brought to this subject is evident.