Dennis Standing Bear Compos
Dennis Standing Bear Compos, was the Grandson to Chief Henry Standing Bear, who was the Hereditary Chief of the Brule Band, who was the major force in starting the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota with Korczak Ziolkowski. Dennis was also a spokesperson at the unveiling of the Crazy Horse 50th Anniversary on June 3, 1998. He was born on August 18, 1929 and he passed away on December 16, 2008. He was a proud Oglala Lakota Sioux and he was brought up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, in South Dakota.
Dennis was honored by many who knew him. He served in the Air Force, attained a BA in Economics, and entered graduate work in the American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. He was elected as County Auditor in Spartanburg, So. Carolina. He was also involved with the Native American groups in the Florida Panhandle. He served on the Friends of the Museums Board for the Indian Temple Mound Museum, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
The Indian Temple Mound Museum is a part of the Heritage Park and Cultural Center in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. After exhibiting my artifact and portrait paintings for eleven years, in 2008, during Archaeology Day, my friend, Dennis Standing Bear Compos, asked me to do his very specific portrait. I was so honored, that I graciously refused payment for the life-size oil painting. Dennis also approved of prints to be made, "to make more people aware of the Native American heritage and culture”. A percentage of sales will go to the Museum Friends in his honor. However, I never knew what he was getting me into and others too. Dennis wanted to be painted with his Grandfather Chief Henry Standing Bear’s shirt on with all the beadwork, and it remains a mystery as to where it is. Just a small black and white photo was given to me with permission to use for reference from the Crazy Horse Foundation. He also wanted to be wearing his Grandfather’s headdress. The regalia was specific and there was not one photo with everything in it to go by. Thanks to my advocate friend, Sarah-Jane SunJay McLaren Owen, researched the beadwork and design extensively.
The pipe in the painting was made by, John Jansen, with very specific instructions. The beadwork for the pipe, was done by Lydia Johnson and she said that because the beading design that Dennis designed was so complicated, she being an electrical engineer figured it out.
Eight months after the painting request, photo shoots in the back yard, sittings and preliminary sketches, were completed on the large canvas, Dennis Standing Bear Compos, passed away. I promised him when I finished the painting that I would unveil it at the Indian Temple Mound Museum. It was finally unveiled on May 27, 2017.
Yes, it took a few years to paint the portrait, with life changes, and I had two cornea transplants. Thank God, my sight was returned and I finished the portrait, and my commitment to Dennis Standing Bear Compos.
As I painted the painting, I tried to capture the mood, through Dennis’ eyes and mine too. He had a message I feel, and it is PEACE.
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