Tim Yanke Shares the History Behind His Colorful Kokopelli

Tim Yanke Park West Gallery

Kokopelli-2014” (2014), Tim Yanke

Just as the spring breathes new life into the world following winter, artist Tim Yanke revives the spirit of the Southwest through his depiction of the iconic Kokopelli.

Kokopelli (pronounced “Cocoa-pell-e”) is a fertility god of some Native American cultures. The deity is also considered a prankster, healer, and storyteller. Kokopelli’s association with fertility includes both childbirth and agriculture. Certain tribes, such as the Zuni, believe that Kokopelli’s music chases away the winter and ushers in spring.

The deity is often portrayed as a hunchbacked flute player with a decorative crest on his head. The first known images of Kokopelli appeared on Hogokam pottery around 750 to 850 C.E., while pictographs and petroglyphs in the Southwest depict the deity starting in 1000 C.E.

Yanke draws inspiration from the culture, colors, and traditions of Southwest America to create his signature Neo-West style. Among Yanke’s imagery of buffalos and headdresses is Kokopelli.

Unlike these ancient depictions, however, Yanke uses bold, bright colors in his Kokopelli series. The artist says these colors give Kokopelli a 21st-century feel instead of the traditional sepia and terra cotta tones associated with the West.

Tim Yanke Kokopelli Park West Gallery

Kokopelli” (2016), Tim Yanke

Along with fertility, Kokopelli represents the spirit of music, which is fitting for an artist who claims two of his most important tools in the studio are his satellite radio and iPod. As a music lover, Yanke says influences such as the Grateful Dead play a role in coloring Kokopelli.

“Here he is, he is the flute player of the Southwest spreading seeds of fertility through music,” Yanke says. “Kokopelli, he rocks—let’s make him a ‘Dead Head’ … let’s get creative and get rockin’ and rollin,’ so I created these neon colors.”

In the Kokopelli series, Yanke includes glyphs used by Native American tribes to emphasize the god’s roles. When read together, the symbols represent bringing a new life into the world.

Fans of “The Bachelor” may have noticed Yanke’s Kokopelli during the 20th season of the show. The bachelor’s fiancée, Whitney Bischoff, is a nurse working at a fertility lab in Chicago. If one watches carefully, one of Yanke’s Kokopelli works is seen hanging on the wall of the lab in this video by Good Morning America.

Kokopelli Tim Yanke Park West Gallery

“Kokopelli” (2016), Tim Yanke

Yanke’s love of the Southwest began when his family visited his brother and sister while they attended college in Arizona. Yanke was 12 years old at the time, and fell in love with the beautiful landscapes. In 1976, when his sister was returning to Michigan to visit, she died in an auto accident. Since then, the Southwest became synonymous with remembering his sister.

“It’s part of my spirit, it’s part of my soul now,” Yanke says of the Southwest. “Ever since that occurred in 1976, I drew headdresses, I drew buffalo skulls, I drew Kokopelli, I drew everything that reminded me of that, and perhaps it was a longing, a connection.”

For more information on how to collect Tim Yanke artwork, contact our gallery consultants at (800) 521-9654 ext. 4 during business hours or sales@parkwestgallery.com after hours.

Leave a comment

Prove you\'re human. *

Latest News

  • 10 Inspirational Quotes From Artists About Giving Thanks and Loving Life

    Are you feeling uninspired lately? Or having a hard time feeling thankful for the little things in life? If you need a spiritual boost, turn to some inspirational quotes ...
    Read More
  • 10 Expert Tips For How to Protect Your Artwork From Damage

    So you’ve found the perfect work of art. Now, how do you protect it?Learning how to protect your artwork from damage is an essential part of building an art collection. ...
    Read More
  • Park West Gallery Talks Inspiration, Record-Breaking Art In The News

    From our artists to our cruise ship auctions, people are talking about Park West Gallery around the world. Here are some recent news articles featuring Park West Gallery.  Park West ...
    Read More
  • 5 Reasons Why Collecting Art Is For You

    According to the 2017 Culture Track Report, the top response people provide when faced with a new cultural activity is, simply, “It’s not for someone like me.”It’s easy to ...
    Read More
  • Park West CEO Albert Scaglione Weighs In On $450.3 Million Leonardo da Vinci...

    A bidding war on November 15 led to the sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” (Savior of the World) for $450.3 million, setting the new record for any work ...
    Read More
  • Park West Auctioneer Honored for Rescuing Drowning Woman

    Park West’s auctioneers often don formal attire and gavels, but Auctioneer Jason Bartlett may need to add a superhero cape.On October 22, the Carnival Miracle was docked in Kona, Hawaii. ...
    Read More
  • Israel’s Yaacov Agam Museum of Art Celebrates Its Opening with Park West Gallery

    When a museum features a painting or a sculpture by an artist, it’s considered a tremendous honor. However, few artists in history know what it’s like to have an entire ...
    Read More
  • Stroll Through Monet’s Garden at the Detroit Institute of Arts

    Claude Monet, a founder of French Impressionism, is arguably one of the most influential artists in history, but he didn’t attribute his success to talent alone.“I perhaps owe having become ...
    Read More
  • Collect the Coolest Art During the Park West Gallery 2017 Winter Sale

    Is there a wintry chill in the air, or are you enjoying the coolest new Park West Gallery artwork?Collectors can view the Park West Gallery 2017 Winter Sale online. ...
    Read More
  • How Art Therapy Helps Veterans

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNpH9IbSqw0In late August, David “Lebo” Le Batard led a creative workshop for veterans in Pompano Beach, Florida. He asked them to write three words about why they attended.One veteran ...
    Read More
  • Park West Gallery Artists Support Veterans

    As the son and nephew of Vietnam War veterans, artist Michael Godard understands the sacrifices made by those who have served in the military.“I try to support the military in ...
    Read More
  • Pino: 6 Facts About the Legendary Artist

    Friday kicks off Park West Gallery's 2016 Holiday Sale featuring Pino. Known around the world, Pino has inspired countless collectors and artists alike with his exceptional style ...
    Read More