Steve Wheeler was a founder of the "Indian Space" movement. "The Indian Space painters became more absorbed in North American Indian art throughout the 1940s, particularly in the methods and imagery of the tribes of the Northwest Coast and Pueblos, as well as the Pre-Columbian Peruvian and aborigines of the South Pacific. The indigenous art of the Americas possessed the transformative energetic imagery rendered in flattened, transparent patterns which dove-tailed with their modernist experimentations and interests." (R.P. Metzger, Steve Wheeler in Context, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2008, n.p.)
Painted circa 1949, Untitled, W22 (Man Looking at Pork Chop) is a consummate example of the artist's ability to incorporate Native American imagery into a complex and compelling, modern composition. Wheeler layers multiple patterns and brightly colored forms to create a frenetic surface. This compresses the pictorial space and abstracts the narrative element as multiple perspectives are depicted simultaneously.
Wheeler's works are currently in the collections of many major museums including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.