I was raised to be proud of my heritage. I consider
myself a progressive contemporary painter. I try to
capture the pride and spirituality of my people
blending traditional with contemporary.
Don Brewer, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, grew up in Thornton, CO. While he attended public school in Thornton, each summer he would return to his mother’s family in Cheyenne River or his father’s family at Pine Ridge where he was taught the values and traditions of the Dakota Lakota people. During high school, he started painting, a talent that he would develop and later become a career now spanning more than 20 years.
His Lakota name means river. Wakpa was his great-grandmother’s family name and when Don was a child she advised that if he used the name in a good way, he would be helped by the spirits. Today, Don likens his life to a river. Many experiences have led him to drastically different settings, as tributaries feed a river on its way to the ocean.
Brewer served in the U.S. Marines for four years. He returned to Colorado with the decision to make art his life’s work. Realizing the words of his grandmother were a prophecy, he made Wakpa his artist name.
Since then, his art career has spanned more than 20 years and his collectors span the globe. He is renowned for his use of color and the contemporary overview in his paintings with just a touch of realism. His paintings were influenced by impressionistic and abstract artists. Through his work, Wakpa strives to touch people, particularly the spiritual aspects, which at times are hard to reach and explain.
Wakpa presently is showing at the Pablo Milan Gallery in Santa Fe and in the past has shown in galleries throughout the West. His vibrant, culturally inspired contemporary paintings are in collections throughout the world.
Wakpa’s paintings have been used as the images for United Tribes International Powwow in 1986, 1991 and again in 2007. Additionally, his imagery has been used for the University of Nebraska Press book, Luther Standing Bear, and a CD cover for Silverwave Records.
Presently, his works are in the Akta Lakota Museum, Chamberlain, SD; Red Cloud Indian School, Pine Ridge; the Crazy Horse Museum in Custer, SD; Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago, Ill. and the United Tribes Technical College Collection.
Wakpa currently is living in Colorado.