Osage artist Joe Don Brave has a number of paintings on display in the Northern Oklahoma College Cultural Engagement Center in the Vineyard Library.
Brave, a Native American of Osage descent, was born Vincent Paul Brave, named after two famous artists, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gogan by his father, Franklin Brave, a successful professional artist and graphic designer.
Two weeks after Brave was born, his father decided to nickname him Joe Don after Oklahoma Sooner football legend Joe Don Looney. The name stuck and I have been Joe Don Brave ever since.
Brave moved to Oklahoma when he was nine and lived in Osage County with my Osage people till he went to college. He was raised in the tradition and customs of the Osages, and is still an active participant of annual traditional ceremonial dances.
His father was an accomplished artist, and though he passed away when Brave was eleven, he spent my childhood, being influenced by father’s skills and artwork.
“I still remember visiting him as a child, in his studio and being given markers and paper to create with alongside him.,” Brave said.
He studied art at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he learned the fundamentals of art and museum studies.
His career began as a Museum Technician at his tribal museum, the oldest tribal museum in the country, in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
His career continued at the National Museum of the American Indian; Smithsonian Institute in New York City. During his more than 10 years in New York City, he worked with other organizations such as Sotheby’s Auction House as an art handler, the Tibetan Museum of Art on Staten Island as Collections manager and the Native American Community House Art Gallery, as a Gallery Technician.
Besides his professional museum career and artwork, he has had the opportunity to work on a fishing boat off the coast of Monterey Bay, California, bar tending in New Mexico and landscaper in Colorado. After twenty years of working around the United States, he decided to return to Osage County and pursue his artwork full time.
“My artwork revolves around my heritage, emotions and expressions that I have picked up through my travels and adventures along the road, and while listening to my elder artists tell of their stories and experiences,” he said.
“I am the son of the Osage, part of its history and a product of its many changes endured over time. I am a citizen of the world, as such, seek to define my identity and place within these two worlds, which are but one,” he added.
The exhibit is set to remain in the CEC through the fall semester.
The CEC is open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday.