Donald F. Montileaux
Spring Solstice, 2022
Acrylic, mixed media on canvas
19.25” x 23.5”
“The newness of Spring is the freshness of Life in nature –
flowers, animals, birds and mankind.”
The Elders, the storytellers, have a lifetime of experience and learning to pass along to their people about how the animals, plant life and the people can teach us to live in harmony with all things. All are related physically and spiritually; they teach us how and why to be thankful for the food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities for living, and for the ceremonies that are practiced during special times of the year. These stories include not only serious things, but also happy and fun times.
During the time an Elder is telling the people about all these things, there is always another close by to verify, or to support what the other is sharing.
“No people can be more grounded than those that give thanks for all that is provided them.”
Winter Solstice, 2022
Acrylic, mixed media on canvas
19.5” x 23.5”
“The Winter Solstice was a time to remember and be thankful for what the year has provided.”
The Elders, or storytellers, remind us that it is time to offer prayer and ceremony for the abundance, in preparing for the harshest time of the year, and that it was time to pause on this day to give thanks for having the basic necessities of life – water, food, clothing and warm shelter for all.
Although we prepare for what is yet to come all year long, we pause to celebrate through ceremony and prayer and giving thanks. Nature and the stars are important sources to make us mindful of what is needed to prepare for whatever time of the year approaches.
“And so, it is.”
Note on masks:
When the need to go against an opposing force or the need for acts not common to a Lakota person were required, men would be chosen to enter the sweat lodge for a ceremony that would give them the skills and powers needed for success. Harmony with oneself and creation was important. The selected men would enter the lodge where an elder awaited, prepared with a bag full of painted masks. To each of the men who entered, the elder would give the gift of a painted mask and the powers that went with it. They would then leave the ceremony prepared for what lay ahead. Upon their return, they would enter the sweat lodge again and give the painted mask with its power back to the elder, who would then return the mask to the bag. The men were then able to exit the ceremony cleansed and with a restored sense of harmony with themselves and creation.
Donald F. Montileaux is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Nation and was born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. He studied at the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico and is a modern-day storyteller, rekindling the images of the Lakota lifestyle by painting the people as they were. Primarily noted for his ledger art, he is also an author/illustrator of children’s books, carrying on the traditional oral stories and legends he heard throughout his childhood. One of Donald’s paintings was on NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour in 1995. He has received numerous awards, including induction into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2021 he was awarded the Western America Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Center for Western Studies, Augustana University, and also received the first Living Treasure Award of the Lakota Nation, Lakota Nation Invitational. Donald’s artwork has been featured in major art shows and is included in numerous corporate, public and private collections. With his willingness to help young and old alike in their artistic journeys, Donald continues to help mentor emerging artists through workshops and classroom instruction.
For more information, see: donaldmontileaux.com