Polly and Scott Larsen are no strangers to hosting Fritz Scholder exhibitions.
Their downtown Scottsdale gallery, Larsen Gallery, has hosted his exhibitions annually for more than 20 years, selling more than 300 of his works at a value exceeding $6 million.
Next month, they’re adding another Scholder exhibition to the list.
From Feb. 2-28, Larsen Gallery’s Scholder exhibition will boast more than 80 of the Minnesota-based American Expressionist’s pieces. More than 30 will be available in the gallery.
The works will range in price from $500 to about $200,000.
“The reason why we host annual exhibitions is Fritz lived here for many years. He was really an icon here in the Valley,” Polly said. “And because of that, we have a lot of artwork always consigned to us because he was quite a prolific artist.”
The upcoming Scholder exhibition will include original paintings, limited edition graphics, sculptures and books.
“He’s most well-known for his work in the 1970s, which were of Native American imagery,” Polly said. “He was really kind of the first artist to take the Native American subject matter out of the context of being romanticized and put in the context of, let’s say, Carl Bodner or George Catlin, and making them very contemporary.”
Scholder, who was part American Indian, is famous for combining pop art with abstract expressionism and taking a more contemporary, controversial approach to portraying Native Americans.
For example, one of Scholder’s most famous and most iconic paintings is “Indian With Beer Can,” depicting an Indian sitting with a Coors can at a bar.
“It was very controversial at the time,” Polly said. “In his mind, it was making the Indian real – what he was seeing on the streets of Santa Fe as he was a teacher there at the time and painting.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree at Sacramento State and Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Arizona, then teaching at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe in the late ‘60s, Scholder decided to make Scottsdale his home 1972.
He died in 2005 at 67.
“Fritz, though, went on to do many other series after the Native American series, which we have a number of those available, too,” Polly said. “He went on to do florals. He did women, he did couples. And so, we have a real variety of works in this exhibition.”
Larsen Gallery has placed Scholder’s works in private collections, corporations and museums throughout the U.S. and even Europe.
The Scottsdale gallery was also instrumental in working with collectors Kent and Vicki Logan to amass paintings for the “Super Indian Fritz Scholder, 1967–1980” exhibition in 2015.
The exhibition was hosted at the Denver Art Museum, Phoenix Art Museum and the Nerman Museum in Kansas.
The gallery continued to work with other collectors to add Scholder paintings to their respective collections.
“Just as every Manhattan apartment should have an Andy Warhol hanging in their living room, every home in the Southwest should have a Fritz Scholder,” one of Polly’s collectors said.
The Larsens hope this upcoming Scholder exhibition will “help contextualize the work of Scholder in regard to his contemporaries, including Andy Warhol.”
“Fritz Scholder wanted to be remembered as a great colorist and works in this exhibition showcase his love of color and composition,” Polly said.
“You can see it in [his] butterfly [pieces], even though it’s early on. ... There’s oranges and reds and greens that normally artists don’t put together like he does. And they just work,” she continued.