“EARL BISS – The Spirit Who Walks Among His People” reveals a Crow artist’s joyous, bold, tumultuous journey to success in the Fine Art world. A master painter and descendent of great Crow Chiefs, Earl Biss (1947-1998) brought inherent, ancient spiritual power to his dynamic oil paintings in the 20th Century. With pure talent and fortitude, he was part of a renowned core group of artists that birthed the Contemporary Native Art Movement. Biss was recognized by an art critic as the greatest colorist of the 20th Century.
Lisa Gerstner is a director, producer, writer, composer and artist. She is the International award-winning author of Earl Biss’ biography, written in cooperation with Earl Biss. She co-produced the feature docudrama “Openings -The Search for Harry”, co-produced and scored the documentary “Girls on Purpose”, and directed, produced, and scored many educational videos in the arts field, including a series of short films on renown sculptor, Gib Singleton. Lisa has a Master of Science in Education Media Design and Technology, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
It was an honor to write Earl’s biography, “Experiences with Earl Biss – the Spirit Who Walks Among His People”. Having worked with the artist and the Crow people first hand as Earl Biss’ chosen biographer, I am in a unique position to relay the Earl Biss story as a documentary in a highly moving and meaningful way. A Biss film should go beyond simply giving information. It should reach the heart – as Earl did with his art.
Note: On September 1, 2020, the biography of the same name as the film, “Earl Biss – The Spirit Who Walks Among His People” received two International Book Awards sponsored by American Book Fest as finalist in both the Art and Biography categories. The book also received finalist awards in both Art and Biography categories of the American Book Fest’s 2019 National Best Book Awards.
Don't they know they can't capture a medicine man? - Earl Biss.
The greatest artists reach people and touch their hearts and souls. Their mark is permanent. And alive. And filled with the same magnificent beauty as when the artist themselves first discovered it, molded it and presented it to the world for each of us to find it, drink it in and let it fully encompass our beings transforming us into something better and filling in a space we didn't know we had. Earl Biss accomplishes this in his art. And the award-winning Lisa Gerstner, the brilliantly talented director, producer and editor of this wonderful documentary also accomplishes it through her story- telling of him.
Earl Biss said he fought rigorously to be recognized as an artist first and not an Indian artist because fine art, especially oil paintings had its roots in Europe and success by virtue of being an Indian is very dangerous as it tends to regionalism or sometimes that can too easily be typed as being a fad or something in style - and then that can go out of style and be discarded easily by the public.
Lisa Gerstner takes us on Earl's journey from the Crow Nation in Montana to his time in Santa Fe making and selling jewelry to support himself before his art catapulted him to success and at the San Francisco Art Institute finding and honing his voice; his searching and discovering moments in Europe with his wife at-the-time while entertaining some with a Crow war dance and being further influenced by impressionist painting which was already his gift and chosen practice. He is often said to be the Monet of the 20th Century. And as a young successful artist he at times lived a rock star life. Details are not spared in this documentary. And in Santa Fe showcasing his art work and in galleries in Aspen and throughout the Southwest, Some of his family and friends including Victor Abbo, Kevin Red Star and Paul Zueger share stories about him and his brilliance as well as his connection to the spiritual world.
It's the spiritual that's important. That's the only reason I'm doing this. I'm holding the brush and someone else is doing the painting. Earl Biss
For those that know Earl Biss and his work this documentary will be a delight. For those just being introduced to him and his work it'll be an awakening of their soul to something exquisitely beautiful that they now know exists.