Modernist sculptor of American Indian figures in bronze and stone statues and statuettes, born in Apache, Oklahoma in 1915 and living in Santa Fe, New Mexico since 1962. “By the time I went back to finish school, I was nineteen and overage for the school near home,” he recalls. “All the kids seemed young. Instead, I went to the old Indian School in Santa Fe, the one founding by Dorothy Dunn. I was the only art school an Indian could afford to go to in those days, because it was free.”
Grandson of the Apache chief who was Geronimo’s interpreter, Houser had to “drop out of high school to help with the farm.” In Santa Fe from 1936 to 1938, he was the only Indian working in sculpture. He also painting murals in Washington, D.C., exhibited in the 1939 New York World’s Fair, and had a one-person show at the Museum of New Mexico. During World War II, he lived in California and worked as a factory hand and ditch digger, but in 1948 he won a sculpture competition at the Haskell Institute in Kansas and modeled his first eight-foot stone monument.
In 1949, Houser received a Guggenheim fellowship. He began teaching in Indian schools in 1951, was awarded the Palmes d’Academique by France in 1956 for contributions to Indian art, and retired from teaching in 1975, “a long time for somebody who had wanted to free lance. You never think of getting old. Sometimes I lie awake all night, thinking o the new project for the next morning. I want it to tingle my back when I look at it.” Houser’s sculpture is in six museums, he was written up in Artists of the Rockies, April 1979, and Southwest Art, June 1981.
Resource: Contemporary Western Artists, by Peggy and Harold Samuels 1982, Judd’s Inc., Washington, D.C