Don Bailey

Don Bailey overlays references to other artists, history, iconography, and pop culture in his paintings that shake up (Native) fine art.

A Hupa tribal member, Don Bailey was raised on the Hoopa Valley Reservation in California and taught art at Chemawa Indian School, the oldest continually operating federal boarding school in America.

Bailey’s work is in the collection of the Hallie Ford Museum (Salem, Oregon), the collection of the Chemawa Indian School (Salem, Oregon), Riverfront Park (Salem, Oregon), and private collections. He works out of his studio in Portland, Oregon.


Everyone’s A Winner

Oil on Canvas, 72” x 60”

“I grew up weaving together the textbook stories told about native people with the stories I could see in my Hoopa Valley landscape and told to me by my elders. I was drawn also to another set of stories that seemingly had no connection to my own – the stories told in the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Francis Bacon and Jackson Pollock. As I began painting too, I moved between these two worlds, as Indian people throughout America do. I make “Indian art,” and I make art.

– Don Bailey

Everyone’s A Winner, Too

Oil on Canvas, 48” x 48”


What are some of the references in Everyone’s a Winner and Everyone’s a Winner, Too?

  • The woven patterns of highly-valued Navajo Chief Blankets
  • The raven, a trickster being in many Pacific Northwest Native stories, including many stories on the origin of humans
  • Native American mascots, such as the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Blackhawks, and company logos that use stereotypical Native imagery to brand themselves as “American,” such as Land O’ Lakes, American Spirit, and Indian Motorcycles
  • In some card games, the Jack of Hearts is a knave and the lowest ranking of the court cards; in other card games it is a trickster and becomes a high ranking card.
  • The cabinet card of Sitting Bull, an influential and prophetic Hunkpapa Lakota leader, who was known for performing with Buffalo Bill and for leading resistance to U.S. settlement and rail building through Lakota land. He was killed by Indian agency police on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
  • The dichotomous works of Native artist and Vietnam veteran T.C. Cannon (Kiowa), especially his work Soldier
  • The sensual, mechanic works of German-American Jewish artist Richard Lindner, especially his work Thank You

How does Don Bailey’s 40 year career as an art instructor at Chemawa Indian School intersect with his artwork? Watch this video from Oregon Art Beat to find out.

Oregon Art Beat

Follow Don’s Instagram to see more of his work


Return to the This IS Kalapuyan Land exhibition page

This IS Kalapuyan Land