Valkyries. Often portrayed as beneficent creatures, their role as the God Odin’s daughters (or female assistants) in Norse mythology is deciding which warriors die and which survive great battles. Those who perish are flown to Odin’s Valhalla by the valkyries, so that he may watch over them.
“Whether in their loving or bloodthirsty modalities, the valkyries are best understood as part of the extensive and dynamic complex of shamanism that permeates pre-Christian Germanic religion,” notes the web page Norse Mythology for Smart People.
R. Tom Gilleon’s “Valkyrie” elicits a tumbling mass of confliciting emotion. Is this a wise and beneficent angel of Odin or a bloodthirsty footman? Is she grounded or hovering? Is she watching over a particualar soldier or pensive? And how does this mythological Norse shaman legend translate to Native American symbols and culture?
How many battles were waged as white men overtook Indian lands, livelihood and very soul? Too many to count. Gilleon uses an ancient character to make a statement about today’s world crises, too many to count. But I choose to believe Gilleon’s valkyrie is a compassionate, helping spirit, ready to protect. Ready to carry our souls to safety.
As we’ve written, sculptor Greg Woodard’s emotional, heroic sculptures appear to erupt from the earth. His portrayals of Native Americans are writhing and torqued—proud, worshipful and primal. Woodard’s work beckon us with their tumultuous textures and rich patinas that set Woodard’s singular, non-conformist bronzes apart.
The artist depicts the inevitable collisions between humans and animals. As Woodard’s admirers know, railroad tracks are featured in many of his pieces; they symbolize man’s introduction to the West, and also, says the gallery, “the line of sight humans or animals can take to look ahead for food or guidance.”
“Artist Focus: R. Tom Gilleon and Greg Woodard” opens today at Altamira Fine Art and remains on exhibit through July 4, 2016. An opening reception, with demonstrations, take place with the artists, at the gallery, July 1 & 2, 3-6:00 pm. Free and open to the public. http://www.altamirafineart