Dennis Belindo’s work has often been described as “transitional modernism,” using a modernist approach and technique to depict traditional Kiowa subject matter, themes and symbols. Belindo was born at a time when the art world was beginning to recognize and appreciate the Native art created by the Kiowa Six, Dick West, and Blackbear Bosin. Belindo also knew elders who embraced the old Kiowa way of life, like his grandfather, Goomda, who was present at the battle of Palo Duro Canyon in 1874. He once said of his grandfather’s generation that they “grew up in the buffalo culture and lived to see the jet age.”
After high school, Belindo attended Bacone College where he studied with Dick West from 1956 to 1958. He then earned a bachelor’s of fine arts from the University of Oklahoma in 1962. He continued his education at the University of New Mexico, earning a master’s of business administration in 1974.
Belindo dedicated himself to “inspiring others to create works of art as part of the material culture of the Kiowa people.” In addition to creating many paintings depicting traditional Kiowa life, he also founded the Kiowa Young Men’s Association, a group dedicated to the preservation of Kiowa culture, including the Kiowa language. As a social activist for Native Americans, Belindo found himself at the epicenter of several unique situations in the early 1970s. He was called on to negotiate with Native Americans when they occupied Alcatraz Island, Bureau of Indian Affairs offices in Washington, D.C., and the Wounded Knee site on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Of his painting, Belindo said, “My artistic contribution to today’s society is an extension of my ancestor’s gift to me. I consider myself a neo-traditionalist. I employ the traditional Indian painting technique of using form, line and color to record in pictorial narrative the history and material culture of our people. I add to the traditional approach a high degree of self-expression, which is a reflection of me as an individual and encompasses my influences, my training and my experiences. I am fascinated by form, movement, color and tension within the picture plane, however tension which is quieted by balance, harmony, feeling and emotion.”
Belindo’s work has been shown at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Smithsonian Institution and in traveling exhibits throughout West Germany, as well as the Red Earth Center in Oklahoma City and the Fred Jones Art Museum at the University of Oklahoma. Belindo’s pieces in the Oklahoma Judicial Center collection are on permanent loan from the Oklahoma Historical Society.
Source: The Oklahoman, February 12, 1982, November 1, 1983, September 6, 2009, Southern Plains Indian Museum, “They are Goomda’s grandchildren” exhibit description; Kiowa Young Men’s Association website – kiowayma.com, accessed August 4, 2011.