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Drawing from diverse inspirations, from his family members to recollected dreams, art history to Anishinaabe culture, Frank Big Bear is best known for vibrant Prismacolor pencil drawings that meld personal and political themes on disjointed, fantastical backdrops. Born in 1953, Big Bear grew up in and around the White Earth Reservation and moved at age 14 to Minneapolis, where he maintains his practice today. A cab driver for 31 years, his keen observations of traffic patterns and urban realities infused his early drawings, boisterously colored and highly detailed scenes that blend figuration and abstraction with elements of Cubism and Surrealism. In recent years, Big Bear has explored photo collage, most notably in large-scale works in the collections of the Walker Art Center and Mia (Minneapolis Institute of Art), as well as oil and acrylic paintings, cut-paper collage, and monochromatic drawings on black board.

Named a 2015 USA Fellow by United States Artists, Big Bear’s art has been collected by and exhibited at the British Museum in London, the Plains Museum of Art, the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, among others. In 2008, he was awarded the Bush Foundation’s Enduring Vision Award for his contribution to the arts in Minnesota. Affiliated with Bockley Gallery since 1985, Big Bear has exhibited at the gallery 11 times.