Echota Cherokee Artist - Pat McAllister

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Accurately painting a visual history of the Native American people


By David Frank Dempsey CCN Staff Writer                    

"Indian art is a separate form of art unto itself", Pat McAllister, a Cherokee Indian artist who has made her home and workplace in Carroll County, said. 

With a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Art and a minor in history, McAllister's work is a visual history of the Native American people.

She said, "My love of history has definitely influenced my art.

I am painting a time that has passed for the Native American. My goal is to give people insight into what it might have been like to have been there. Not necessarily the dramatic moments, but the everyday scenes of life."

The ability to integrate complex scenes smoothly is crucial in historical painting, and she does it masterfully. A camp scene painted by McAllister may show the activities and emotions of several different people, but it will also show the overall atmosphere of the camp and its location.

McAllister does not avoid the moments of high drama in Indian history, but tries to put them into a proper context with Indian culture. Battle scenes that continue to be romanticized by Hollywood and white artists are given a different treatment on her canvases.

A painting called "Hanta Yo" which translates to "Watch out, here I come" depicts a single Sioux warrior as he attempts to ride through a line of his enemies to strike a "coup". In McAllister's wide-angle view, the warriors do not dominate the canvas. The viewer is drawn first to the land itself with its light gradually disappearing in a distant haze. The warriors are only a part of the scene. Painted in soft, muted tones that suggest, strangely enough, a degree of humility, they go intently about their dangerous business.

McAllister also devotes much of her time to portraiture using Indian friends and members of her own family as models. Her daughter Erin has been a subject of her mother's portraiture painting since the age of three. Two paintings of Erin have won awards.

McAllister paints in oils and in transparent watercolors. Controlling highlights in watercolor portraiture is a difficult task that she excels at.

In defining Indian American art, she said "Most Native American art is in a style called two-dimensional flat, but it can vary widely. One end of the spectrum would be artists who are leaning more toward modern art, like Jo Anne Bird. Two-dimensional flat would be the middle of the spectrum. At the other end are artists like myself who paint in a more "realistic" manner".

Pat and her husband Joe McAllister own the Cherokee Mountain Gallery on Hwy 62 between Eureka Springs and Berryville. Along with Pat's work, they represent some of the leading Indian artists in the country. These artists include painters Dana Tiger, Jo Anne Bird, and Manuel Franco. The sculpture of Ron Schroder, Rick Branson and Bob Bell, the pottery of John Campbell and Diana Martinez are also shown.

All of the artist represented by the Cherokee Mountain Gallery are friends of the McAllisters.

Pat McAllister said "Most Native American artists make their circuit of shows, and it has become a kind of extended family". The McAllisters travel together to the shows, and spend approximately 130 nights a year away from their home.

Joe McAllister is a fine photographer and printmaker. He does all the printing for the reproduction of Pat's original oil paintings. The original oil paintings sell at prices beyond the range of affordability for many of the people who enjoy her work, so Joe's reproductions are in great demand at the gallery and at shows.

Pat McAllister's background and skills in her mediums would obviously allow her to paint in any style that she chose. When asked why she preferred Native American art she said, "I think artists should paint what they know, and since I am Native American, it was the natural subject for me".

Pat McAllister lives and paints in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and as an artist, she states, "I try to find beauty in a world that is sometimes not so beautiful. The world of the Native-American has gone through many changes, some good, some bad. It is best to look for the good. When overwhelmed, the Native American has always been able to reach inside himself for dignity, pride and strength. This reflection of inner strength is what I seek to capture in my paintings."

Born and raised in Louisiana, Pat began painting at a very young age; her talents passed on by her mother, Mina McKaskle, a practicing watercolor artist.

Pat’s Cherokee Heritage came from her father. She is a member of the Echota Cherokee Tribe of  Alabama.

Pat received her Fine Arts Degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. After graduation, she and her husband moved to Europe, where Pat continued to study during the eleven years spent overseas. Because of these years, there is a very strong European influence seen in Pat’s work. Her paintings definitely have an "Old World" look, unusual for Native-American painters. Her work is strongly effected by the Flemish "Dutch" school – 17th century. Light against dark; texture against smooth; impasto opaque lights against transparent thin darks, i.e.; chiaroscuro. Pat’s favorite artist is Rembrandt Van Rijn.

Pat uses her family and friends as models, which she places in historical settings; (Pat is a History minor). Her purpose is to make the viewer feel like they are actually there with those people, in that setting. Through her work, Pat hopes to bring to light the strong traditions, heritage and family bonds of the Native American a to communicate a stronger understanding of their world.


Best of Show/Grand Award - "Red Earth", Oklahoma City, OK 

Best in Category - "Kermezaar”, El Paso, TX 

Best of Show - "Broken Arrow Art Fest" Broken Arrow, OK   

Best of Show – "Indian Summer", Bartlesville, OK 

Best of Show – "Summer Arts Fest", Beaver Creek, CO 

Best of Show –"Schemitzun", Mystic Seaport, CT 

Best in Category - "Kermezaar" El Paso, TX 

Featured Artist - "Great Plains Indian Art Expo", Omaha, NE 

1st Place - "American Indian Art Festival & Market", Dallas, TX      

1st Place - Oil Painting - "Wichita Indian Museum", Wichita, KS 

1st Place - Oil Painting - "Red Earth" Oklahoma City, OK   

1st Place –Oil Painting "Schemitzun", Mystic Seaport, CT   

1st Place - Oil Painting "Fountain Hills", Fountain Hills, AZ 

2nd Place – Watercolor SWAIA "Santa Fe Indian Market" 

2nd Place – Oil Painting "Colorado Indian Market" Denver, CO   

2nd Place – Oil Painting "American Indian Art Fest" Dallas, TX 

2nd Place - Oil Painting "Annual Indian Arts Fest" Tulsa, OK 

3rd Place – Oil Painting "Ceremonial" Gallup, NM 

3rd Place – Oil Painting "SWAIA" Santa Fe Indian Market   

3rd Place – Oil Painting "Eiteljorg Museum” Indianapolis, IN     

3rd Place – Watercolor "Grand River Indian Artist Gathering" Grand Junction, CO  

Corporate Collectors

Kerr Foundation – Oklahoma City, OK

Kimberly Clark Corporation – Jenks, OK

                         Tenneco Oil – Houston, TX                               

Wichita Indian Museum - Wichita, KS

Indian Center Museum - Wichita, KS

Cherokee Mountain Gallery

Joe & Pat McAllister


5307 Hwy 62 ~ Eureka Springs, AR ~ 72632

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