The Arts Scene: Beautiful colors, beautiful meanings

Dottie Scabbyrobe gracefully performs the beautiful shawl dance in a painting by Jeff Hoppis titled “Endless Rhythm.” The painting catchers her mid-step with her shawl unfurled, a move not uncommon to Dottie as she travels around the country performing in powwows. She is “one of the nicest young women I’ve ever met,” says Hoppis, who created the painting and has an exhibit of work at Kana Winery.

Scabbyrobe is one of many subjects that are part of this exhibit. Hoppis told me, “I wanted to pay respect to our local neighbors and their regalia and respect for their traditions I absolutely love. In all of my newer paintings, I’ve captured the Native Americans in their traditional regalia at powwows. I love the beautiful colors and meanings such as the beautiful shawl dance.”

Hoppis was born and raised in Yakima. He has a keen interest in Native American culture, as his grandfather was part Native American. He is a self-taught artist, first exploring pen and ink drawings before taking a job with Ken Whitmire as a photo re-toucher. Working for Whitmire, he learned the art of using an airbrush on photographs. Hoppis learned a lot from Whitmire, who allowed him to explore the art of retouching on his own. He soon specialized in the restoration of black and white photographs.

“I am very fortunate to have met some of the local Native Americans,” he says, “and their kind generosity to me and a friend of mine who takes their photographs. I paint tradition by capturing their emotion in movement and spiritual ways of life.”

This is very evident in the painting “Many Moons.” The subject’s name was Full Bull, and he was from The Sioux Nation. Hoppis said he “created the moon behind him because of the importance in the sky above. Many nations use the moon to tell time, and travel.”

One painting of a man is black and white except for a red-painted forehead. “His name is Greg Red Elk from Montana,” Hoppis said, “a member of the Blackfeet Nation, but has family here and comes to the Yakama powwows regularly. He is a powwow dancer — a very striking man and friendly. He was kind enough to let us capture his image for me to paint overlooking the Yakima Valley.”

Amid the portraits of humans, I came across one of a Texas longhorn. Jeff told me he was in Okanogan and came across a ranch that had longhorns, so he took some pictures and painted a longhorn with a ridge behind him. “A friend of mine said her grandfather had a longhorn bull named Waldo Pepper,” he said, “so I loved the name and named my painting after him.”

Kana Winery is at 10 S. Second St in Yakima.

• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. His arts column runs every Thursday in SCENE. Learn more at

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