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Paul Dyck Exhibit

Paul Dyck was born in 1917. His family lived for many years in southern Alberta with the Blackfoot Tribe, which initiated Paul’s life-long interest in the Plains Indian culture. 

Paul’s family returned to Europe in 1921. Being descendants of Sir Antoine Van Dyck, his family decided that Paul was to train to be an artist. At age 12 he was sent to apprentice with his Uncle Johann Van Skramlick, a well-known European portrait painter. Then, at the age of 15, he was sent to train at the Munich Academy.Paul Dyck was born in Chicago in August 1917. His family was originally from Europe but lived in Alberta, Canada; Chicago, Illinois; and St. Paul, Minnesota. While in southern Alberta, the family lived with the Blackfoot Tribe and Paul’s father collected Plains Indian crafts, which began Paul’s life-long interest in the Plains Indian culture.

In 1934 after leaving Europe, Paul returned to New York (staying only three weeks) and then went to South Dakota to see his friend, One Elk, a Lakota Sioux holy man whom he'd met in Europe. Paul met and fell in love with One Elk’s daughter, Fawn, and they were married. It was during his time living with the Sioux people that they gave him the name Rainbow Hand, an admirable name for a person who was an old world master painter of beautiful paintings.

In 1935 Paul’s wife died from childbirthing complications. In despair, he traveled on his Indian motorcycle throughout the West for the next several years, returning to the East in winter to do freelance illustration work. While he was travelling on his motorcycle he would make Indian sketches and sell them for 50 cents, or trade them for meals and other necessities.  Paul did eventually re-marry.

Paul settled in Rimrock in 1938. Using his earnings from advertising illustration work, he purchased a 312-acre ranch that had fallen into disrepair. In 1953, Paul took up painting as a full-time career. Paul Dyck mainly painted using either layered egg tempera on board, in the Old Master tradition, or else utilizes the Sumi-e ink techniques that were the province of the Japanese. Paul became well-known as a painter and ultimately had 65 one-man exhibitions all over the country, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Tucson. His paintings are included in the collection of the Phoenix Art Museum, the Museum of Northern Arizona, and the Tucson Museum of Art (Harmsen Collection), as well as the First National Bank in downtown Phoenix.

During an exhibit of his life-size paintings of Plains Indian Chiefs at the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles, Paul met Dr. Charles Rozaire, who was working at the museum at that time.  In the late 1950s, Paul became concerned that the cliff dwellings on his property would be pot hunted due to more development in the Rimrock area.  Paul asked Dr. Rozaire if he would be interested in conducting a professional excavation of the cliff dwelling.

A letter written by Dr. Rozaire to Paul Dyck in 1961, thanked Paul for showing him the cliff dwellings and tentatively set a date in early April of the next year to undertake excavations. The Dyck excavations proved to be extremely interesting and the deposits so extensive that Dr. Rozaire conducted excavations over the course of seven seasons of investigations; in 1962, 1968 (two seasons), 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972. These excavations recovered thousands of artifacts, including a large collection of perishable materials preserved in the dry midden deposits inside the dwellings.

The Dyck cliff dwelling excavations of 1962 to 1972 are one of the most important investigations ever undertaken at an archaeological site in the Verde Valley because of the abundance of well-preserved perishable materials recovered through systematic excavations by professional archaeologists. The textiles (most varietal ever preserved in AZ from a single location) and wooden artifacts that were collected rival and in many cases exceed those found in only a few other sites in the region.

Paul Dyck passed away in 2006 at age of 88. In 2014, John Dyck, son of Paul Dyck and President of the Dyck Foundation, contacted the Verde Valley Archaeology Center to inquire if they would be interested in having the Dyck cliff dwelling artifact collection and site records donated to it. The Center quickly accepted the collection. 

This exhibit displays only a tiny fraction of the items in the collection. There is a display of Farming and Gathering, Hunting, and Weaving.  It is our intention to rotate the items periodically over the next several years. You can download the free exhibit guide (495 KB PDF) here.

He spent the rest of his life working the ranch, raising horses, and planting crops peacefully. He also painted in his studio on the ranch. During his lifetime, he lived among the Cheyenne, Blackfoot, Crow, Oto, Pawnee, Kiowa, Comanche, Zuni, Navajo, Hopi and Apache, with whom he gained much respect.