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"Never Get Away" is the third painting reproduced in the Cultural Series. It follows "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow" and "Intermission". The paintings in this series often have a brown background. The figures appear to fade into the canvass in some places, and stand out in stark relief in others. This concept originated with Tiger, and the style is unique. As the name of the series implies, these paintings have a cultural theme; each depicts the Creek Tribe in everyday life, and is accurate as to clothing and activities. "Never Get Away" goes back to the period when Oklahoma was Indian Territory. This was a time when the tribes governed themselves. The Light Horesemen were Indian police who kept law and order within the tribe. The title "Never Get Away" describes the painting well. The Light Horseman is doing his job, has caught his man, and is ready to bring him to justice. It may be noted that the 'Indian way' was not prison. That was the white man's innovation. The Indian traditionally punished his own with banishment, whippings or death. Cultural ties were so strong that the so called prisoner was not jailed, but was expected to wait until punishment was netted out.
This painting by Jerome Tiger lends itself to at least three artistic interpretations. The first is that it represents the historic "Trail of Tears" journeys, aptly named because of the thousands of Indian lives that were lost due to the negligence of the United States Government, the illness, and the severe Winter weather. These marches, begun after 1830, forced the already undernourished and inadequately clothed Indians to move westward from their homelands in the eastern United States to make room for white expansion. For the frail, the young, and the old, it was indeed a cold journey -- one that remains an indelible blight on the history of America. A second interpretation is that the journey refers to one of the many expeditions that the Indians made to follow the wandering buffalo herds. As the Indian tribes were moved and then moved again, each time drawing less acreage and usually poorer land, starvation became a constant visitor. An agricultural way of life was abandoned and a nomadic lifestyle soon developed as many tribes came to depend almost entirely on the buffalo for their subsistance. Often, the hungry Indians had little resistance to the extreme hardships of winter, and suffered and died on these cold journeys following the migrating buffalo. A third, and certain, interpretation is a symbolic one: The Indian's lifelong spiritual journey. This interpretation is to be expected since it was Jerome Tiger's ability to convey the depth of the Indian's spiritual insight that earned for him a position among the artistic masters. It was, likewise, his facility to depict the wisdom of the Indian's timeless philosophies that secured for him his permanence among the artistic visionaries. And it was his capacity to empathize with the Indian's suffering that won for him a lasting place in the hearts of Indian art lovers. The framework of "Cold, Cold Journey" is intricately woven with these elements of Tiger's genius.
The Cultural Series is a collection of familiar scenes from the everyday life of Jerome Tiger's Indian people; their customs and habits, their celebrations, their sports and entertainment. The fourth release in the Cultural Series, entitled "Roughing It Up", depicts two players involved in the strenuous Indian game of Stickball. This age-old sport is traditionally a fast-moving, violent game which often accelerates into bloody combat between the teams. The players catch a ball in scoops attached to the end of wooden sticks which are about three feet long, and hurl it at a goal, usually a carved animal head sitting atop a tall pole. In the heat of the game the players angrily swing and thrash their sticks like clubs to fend off their opponents. Instinctively, Tiger added to "Roughing It Up" the touches of realism necessary to capture the action and ferocity of the Stickball game. The aggressor's sticks are clenched in a vise-like grip; his opponent's sticks are free in the air, his fingers open. The viewer is literally made to feel the rush of breathe from the player's lungs as he is brought down. The impact of the collision in so artfully accomplished that even the most casual observer is effected. Because of its dynamic realism, its force and action, Roughing It Up" must rank as one of Tiger's truly powerful works.