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A Drawing by Ernest Spybuck Gifted to the MGMoA by Doctor's Grandchildren

Delaynna Trim, Curator of Collections


Many of you might recognize this house on Broadway Street in Shawnee. This drawing was created by renowned Absentee Shawnee artist Ernest Spybuck (1883-1949). The drawing was given to Dr. J.A. Walker by Spybuck in payment for medical services. The house was built by Charles Kirst, John's father-in-law.

Walker House, Earnest Spybuck (1883-1949), Gift of the Grandchildren of J.A. Walker

This drawing was recently donated by the grandchildren of J.A. Walker: Minnie Ruth Walker, Virgil Walker, Don Walker, and Nelda Walker Ward; and accessioned into the MGMoA permanent collection this summer.  

Marshall Gettys discusses Spybuck in the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture: "Born in Indian Territory near Tecumseh in 1883...on the Potawatomi-Shawnee Reservation, painter Ernest Spybuck (Shawnee name Maythela) was the son of Peahchepeahso and John Spybuck. Their son was educated in the Shawnee Boarding School and at Sacred Heart Mission. For most of his adult life he was occupied as a farmer, rather than as a professional artist... 'Ernest Spybuck began painting at around the age of six. His patron was anthropologist M. R. Harrington...[His] interest in the young artist was driven by Spybuck's drawing ability and interest in portraying scenes of contemporary tribal life. Typical of Native artists of his era, Spybuck used a simplified three-dimensional style, but his images were realistic and provided a central scene in perspective, with well-defined foreground and background... "Spybuck's paintings became highly prized by collectors and found their way into significant public and private collections... Spybuck died in 1949 near Shawnee." Marshall Gettys, "Spybuck, Ernest," The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,www.okhistory.org (accessed October 03, 2018).

Photo Credit: Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian Ernest Spybuck, Absentee Shawnee Artist, c. 1910. Photo taken during fieldwork sponsored by George Heye.

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