He started painting as a five-year-old, won his first prizes at seven, and has continued on that award-strewn path for the past thirty-odd years.
A son of noted painter Bennie Nelson Yellowman, the source of his precocious talent and exceptional skill probably comes from his father but is expressed in his very own, personal way.
Ben’s paintings are often based on imagery from his mother’s Kiowa heritage, as here.
They offer glimpses of Native life on the Great Plains and are filled with energy and color, somewhat reminiscent of ledger art.
This wonderful painting pits the traditional, equestrian way of life of the Plains against the coming of a new order – the advent of the “Iron Horse”.
Colorfully attired Natives are in the midst of a buffalo hunt when a large train comes thundering along.
The horsemen seem to be standing stock still, watching the future roll by, as the buffalo continue their own, thundering progress.
The rigorous straight lines of the railroad tracks are mitigated by the varied detail on the locomotive, with its vertical forms, the uneven rounded shapes of the buffalo, and the equally detailed and upright stance of the mounted hunters.
Cloud-like wisps in the background flow from top right, to bottom left, drawing the eye in a circular pattern.
With bold shapes and colors, this painting is not only wonderfully decorative, but it also is esthetically, historically, and spiritually, meaningful, and deeply felt.
A beautiful example of Ben’s mature, unquestionable ability to join technique and ideas into an artistic whole.
All ready to hang and admire.