New Gorman biography quirky but thorough

“The Power of his Brush: the Evolution of R.C. Gorman” traces the arc of an iconic life.


I’ve always had a passing interest in the art of R.C. Gorman, even before I moved to his hometown.

My parents have a Gorman sketch, one of his many studies of powerful-looking Native women, heads angled proudly, seated on the ground in billowing skirts, and I always pause to admire it when I pass it in their apartment. But I can honestly say I never truly appreciated the iconic artist’s work until I read “The Power of his Brush: The Evolution of R.C. Gorman” by Nikos Ligidakis (Inkwell Books, 2017).

It’s not to say that the book isn’t flawed. It’s readily apparent English isn’t Ligidakis’ first language, and like every self-published book I’ve ever read, it could have benefited from an editor. Besides that, Ligidakis regularly crosses the line from biographer to apologist, at one point devoting three pages to debunking some vague and unattributed criticism of his subject, eventually concluding that all Gorman’s critics were just mean and jealous.

But somewhere amid the 29 chapters, the malaprops (early on, for example, someone is wearing a “Navajo mantra”) go from annoying to endearing, like listening to a good friend with an accent. And Ligidakis, who devoted years of research to both Gorman’s life and his considerable body of work, can be forgiven for falling in love with both Rudolph Carl Gorman and his art. Indeed, most people who met him did.

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Categories: Arts

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at