Greeting “The Greeter”

An enthusiastic crowd gathered this past Saturday to witness the unveiling of “The Greeter,” sculptor John Coleman’s gift to Green-Wood in honor of George Catlin, the father of art of the American West.

The crowd that gathered for the unveiling. Many traveled thousands of miles for the event; several Catlin descendants also were present.

For background on this event, go here. And you may read another entry about Catlin that has appeared in this blog here.

Sculptor John Coleman is a huge Catlin fan. And, when he found out that Catlin, who died in 1872, had not gotten a grave marker until 1961, and that it was only a very simple gravestone in an out-of-the-way place at that, he promised to rectify that wrong. John donated his bronze sculpture, “The Greeter,” to be placed near Catlin’s grave, to honor him.

Green-Wood’s president, Richard J. Moylan, told the audience how he had met sculptor John Coleman and had arranged for Coleman donation. Dr. Linda Ferber, vice president and senior art historian at The New-York Historical Society, spoke about George Catlin, the artist. Gwen Pier, executive director of the National Sculpture Society, talked about Green-Wood as a sculpture garden and introduced sculptor John Coleman.

Donna Couteau, of the Sac and Fox tribes, and her husband Joe Cross, of the Caddo and Potawatomi tribes, movingly described Catlin’s importance to Native Americans–how he captured images of their ancestors (Donna is a descendant of Black Hawk, whom Catlin painted; Joe spoke of a Catlin’s painting of a Caddo buffalo hunt) and wrote extensively about their customs.

From left to right, Joe Cross, sculptor John Coleman, and Donna Couteau, at George Catlin's grave.

Here is “The Greeter,” Chief Black Moccasin, as he was being unveiled by Green-Wood Cemetery President Richard J. Moylan (at left) and sculptor John Coleman (at right):

Unveiling "The Greeter."

And here is a detail of “The Greeter:”

"The Greeter," up close.

Three bronze plaques are attached to the granite base upon which “The Greeter” stands. One describes “The Greeter” as a historical figure:

Dr. Joan Carpenter Trocolli is a leading Catlin scholar. She kindly wrote this text.

And, here is the plaque about sculptor John Coleman and his thoughts on this piece:

The bronze plaque about sculptor John Coleman.

And the third tells the visitor George Catlin’s story:

George Catlin gave up his career in law to chronicle, in painting and writing, the American Indian..

Here is “The Greeter,” after its unveiling, with Donna Couteau and Joe Cross.

Donna spotted a heron flying by just as this photo was being taken.

After the unveiling, Joe Cross led a celebratory dance in an open spot near Catlin’s grave.

Dancing to celebrate the unveiling of "The Greeter" to the beat of Joe Cross's drum.

After the unveiling, a birthday party was held in Green-Wood’s Historic Chapel. July 26 was painter George Catlin’s birthday; July 27 was sculptor John Coleman’s.

The birthday cake for George Catlin and John Coleman.




2 thoughts on “Greeting “The Greeter””

  1. While George Catlin was a fine artist and a better journalist with an eye for detail, his greatest contribution to American culture was suggestion for the creation of a National Park, to save the Plains Indians hunting culture ,by saving the bison, by saving the habitat, as described in his letter 31 “Mouth of the Teton” written in 1832, forty years before the establishment of Yellowstone as the world’s first National Park, often called America’s best idea, an idea which originated with George Catlin. JSL


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