Friday, June 22, 2018


If you have ever been to Wichita, Kansas, you likely saw The Keeper of the Plains, a 44-foot steel sculpture (shown above) set at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers.  The sculpture is the most famous work of Blackbear Bosin, a Comanche-Kiowa sculptor and painter. 

Born Francis Blackbear Bosin on June 5, 1921, he was given the Kiowa name Tsate Kongia, which in English means Blackbear and was the name of his Grandfather, a Kiowa chief.  Frank, as he was called, was born in Oklahoma but after high school he moved to Wichita, which he called home for the rest of his life. 

He was essentially a self-taught artist, starting with crayons early in the reservation school in Anadarko, Oklahoma, where he was exposed to the paintings of the well-known “Kiowa Five,” a group of Indian Artists about a generation older than he was.  In his teen years, which coincided with the Great Depression, he peddled small paintings door to door, selling them for a dollar or so.  As an adult, he served in the U. S. Marine Corps during World War II.  There was never a time in his life that he wasn’t involved with art; his first solo art show was in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1945.  At that time he combined a Southern Plains flat style painting with surrealism.  His painting style later evolved through many years of searching out the real lives and histories of the various Indian tribes so he could accurately represent them.

Of special interest is the attractive logo he designed for the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation.  His other artwork is in many collection.

My connection with Blackbear has a distant family link.   It is easiest described in this way:  My My Uncle Marvin and Aunt Florence Kimble lived in Wichita for many years.  They became friends with Frank “Blackbear” Bosin and his wife, Nola.  Nola and Florence had been best friends for years, and the husbands knew each other well.  My Aunt Florence died in 1979.  Blackbear died in 1980.  And long-time friends Marvin and Nola married in the early 1980s.  When Jerry and I went to Wichita to do some genealogy on my Kansas families, we visited Uncle Marvin and Nola, who were busy with the Blackbears. Ltd. Indian Jewelry Store.   By that time Uncle Marvin was almost blind, and Nola was lovingly caring for him.  It was then that we went to see the “Keeper of the Plains” and it was as beautiful a sight as one could hope to see.

June 5, 1921 - August 9, 1980