I have often been asked how I came up with the name Dancing Rabbit for my gallery. Honestly, I didn’t. My mom and dad started The Dancing Rabbit Gallery back in 1980, at the time primarily concentrating on Oklahoma painters like Jerome Tiger, Kelley Haney, Gary Montgomery and others. They collected and sold the works of these artists and many others.
As I have mentioned in prior blogs, when I was a child, my family would always take a summer vacation to New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado. Southwestern history, art and culture figures in my life from very early on.
So I thought in selecting a name for their art gallery, my parents must have given it very careful consideration. My father, a fiery red-headed aerospace engineer, traced his family lineage back to the kilt-wearing Lochbuie clan in far western Scotland. His family emigrated from Scotland in the 1800’s and finally settled in Oklahoma. My mother, a warm-hearted educator, taught children’s classes at Fort Worth’s Museum of Natural History. Her family had emigrated from England in the 1800’s as well, and eventually called Oklahoma home. When my parents retired and got a second home in Santa Fe, my mother was asked to consult at the Wheelwright Museum, because of her extensive Native American artifact background. Surely, I thought, with them both growing up immersed in Native American cultures and building wonderful relationships with Native American friends, they carefully chose the Dancing Rabbit name and logo to reflect some aspect of their interest in Native American culture.
Sadly, both of my parents passed away during the 1990’s, and they aren’t here now to answer all of the questions I have for them. I have scrutinized all of the family photos, letters, and other documents, and have asked my younger siblings for any information that they might have. Slowly, a picture has emerged of their lives, and of their parents and grandparents as well. It is amazing how we don’t think to ask these questions, or make observations about our families, when we are kids growing up, or even when we are young adults raising our own families. Only later in life, when we have time to reflect, do these things become increasingly important.
How wise it is of the Native American peoples to capture their traditions in oral stories, and pass along those stories to their children early and often in life. With my blogs, I hope to capture some of the stories that they tell with their lives and with their art, always respectful of the private areas they don’t wish to be disclosed. I also hope to capture some of the adventure and wonder that Michael and I are enjoying with our travels through the American Southwest, meeting and getting to know new people and building wonderful relationships with them. I’ve been asked many times about the Dancing Rabbit name, and always responded that it was a mystery to me, but must have had important significance.
The good news is that my mother’s younger sister spent some time with us over this past Christmas, and I posed many questions to her. One that she was able to answer was the start of the Dancing Rabbit name. It turns out that my father’s father settled in McAlester, Oklahoma, and stayed there for the rest of his life. My mother’s parents moved back to McAlester (where my maternal grandfather also went to high school) when my mom was a teenager, and she finished her high school years at McAlester High School, where she met another McAlester high school student– my dad. Nature took its course, they both went off to college together, got married, and started a family. Later, when they decided to open their gallery, they went back to the time when they first met, and chose the gallery name from the mascot of their high school – the Dancing Rabbit! McAlester has subsequently opened a new High School, and adopted the Buffalo as their mascot, retiring the Dancing Rabbit to posterity. All of those years that I have had my maternal grandfather’s high school yearbook from 1918 with the Dancing Rabbit mascot on the cover, and I never made the connection until my dear, sweet aunt answered my question.
One mystery solved – many more yet to go!