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Noon Meal after Peyote Meeting / Frank Knickerbocker

Essay/Description

The scene in Noon Meal after Peyote Meeting, a watercolor by Frank Knickerbocker (Otoe-Missouria), derives from the artist’s experiences with the Native American Church (NAC). Following a peyote meeting, men and women sit in a semicircle to dine under a brush-arbor shade. The abundant meal is served by the elderly woman wearing the pale blue dress. The others—with each figure defined by vibrant, painterly strokes—are formally dressed in striped wool blankets and collared shirts, and some wear cowboy hats. A cooking fire on the right is surrounded by pots and utensils used to prepare the meal. Only hours before, the peyote meeting took place in the tipi, now with its poles still erect but uncovered. A drying rack full of meat has been prepared for meeting attendees, so that no one will leave empty-handed. Beyond the gathering, a thin line of deep green spans the horizon and fades into the distance.

Knickerbocker’s reminiscences about the meal are on the back of the painting:

“Back in 1940 while visiting some Otoe friends of mine I painted this picture. They had a Peyote meeting and I attended. Then while waiting for our noon meal I sketched what I saw and painted it later. They butchered and made ready a lot of corn as the main dishes. After dawn had come and we were out of the tepee they took it down and we eat under the arbor. Mr. & Mrs. Jim Pettit were the hosts. Being one fourth Otoe myself — I enjoyed this very much.”

This intimate scene takes place beneath billowing, bright clouds, making the meal the picture of peace. The noon meal is the final part of NAC meetings, purposefully and generously providing fellowship and nourishment to everyone.

—Jordan Poorman Cocker, Henry Luce Foundation Curatorial Scholar for Indigenous Painting Collection Research, 2021

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Title(s): 
Noon Meal after Peyote Meeting
Creator(s): 
Frank Knickerbocker (Artist)
Culture: 
Native American; Otoe-Missouria
Date: 
1940
Materials/Techniques: 
watercolor on paper
Classification: 
Object Type: 
Credit Line: 
Gift of the Thomas Gilcrease Foundation, 1955
Accession No: 
02.103
Previous Number(s): 
0227.103; 39491
Department: 
Signed by hand in ink, "F. Knickerbocker 4-6 '40" in lower right on recto; Notes in the artist's hand; Inscribed by hand in pencil, "Back in 1940 while visiting some Otoe friends of mine I painted this picture. They had a Peyote meeting and I attended. Then while waiting for our noon meal I sketched what I saw and painted it later. They butchered and made ready a lot of corn as the main dishes. After dawn had come and we were out of the tepee they took it down and we eat under the arbor. Mr. & Mrs. Jim Pettit were the hosts. Being one fourth Otoe myself - I enjoyed this very much." in upper center on verso.
Not On View

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