Armond Lara was born in 1939 in Denver, Colorado and raised in Walsenburg, a coal mining town in southeastern Colorado. His mother was of Navajo descent and his father was Mexican. He was educated at the Colorado Institute of Art and Glendale College in California and also attended the University of Washington in Seattle where he was influenced by Japanese master paper artist, Paul Horuechi. He also worked with Mexican muralist Pablo O’Higgins, Richard Diebenkorn and Helen Frankenthaler.
His paintings and drawings often incorporate handmade paper, found objects and mixed media including traditional Navajo beadwork that has been sewn on to the canvas. His carved marionettes of historical cultural figures such as Crazy Horse, Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, Man Ray and Billy the Kid, among others, are created in the spirit of the Koshare, the sacred clown that participates in the religious dances of the Rio Grande Pueblo People. Known as a mischief maker, the Koshare clown helps maintain harmony in the community by reminding people of acceptable standards of behavior.
“The role of the Koshare among the Pueblo Indians is a complex one, for they are integrated with the serious Kachinas. Their primary function acts as a leavening for the seriousness of a major ceremony. Often times there is an object lesson on improper behavior in a social commentary present in the skits. Their actions, while highly amusing, are not what the Pueblo or anyone else would like to be caught doing in public. They are the ultimate examples of overdoing everything.
The Koshare’s role as a mimic has allowed me to place it in any time or role I could imagine. I have purposely made it androgynous. This not only complies with my beliefs about Dieties but works well aesthetically. I have tried to portray all the humor, tragedy, frustration and beauty that I as a human being feel.” – Armond Lara
Through this vehicle, Lara is able to portray the humor, tragedy, frustration and beauty of what it means to be human. After years of working in the aerospace industry in Seattle and then in arts administration, Lara helped to establish the 1% for the ARTS Program in Seattle, Washington in 1973, which was one of the first cities in the US to adopt funding for public art. When Lara relocated to Santa Fe in the 1980s, he participated in his first Indian Market where Georgia O’Keeffe purchased two of his works, one of which was gifted to the Smithsonian. In 1996 Lara founded the Santa Fe Artist Emergency Medical Fund which has been one of the many factors contributing to his reputation as a leader in the arts not only for Native Peoples but for all artists. Armond Lara is in museum collections worldwide and is represented by form & concept in Santa Fe, NM.
Selected Public Collections
Art Museum of South Texas; Corpus Christi, TX
Denver Art Museum; Denver, CO
Eiteljorg Museum; Indianapolis, IN
Gannett Corporation; Washington, D.C.
The Heard Museum; Phoenix, AZ
Inn of the Anasazi; Santa Fe, NM
Kennedy Center; Washington, D.C
Meadows Museums; TX
New Mexico Museum of Fine Art
Owensboro Museum of Art; Owensboro, KT
Peaks Hotel; Telluride, CO
Philadelphia Museum of Art; Philadelphia, PA
Seattle First National Bank; Seattle, WA
Southwest Museum; Pasadena, CA
Sunset Magazine; CA
Trammel Crow; Dallas, TX
Travel Acceptance Corporation; WA
United States Embassy; Paris, France
Utah Museum of Art; UT
Weisman Enterprises Inc.; Minneapolis, MN
Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian; Santa Fe, NM
Whitney Museum of American Art; NY