Tim Tate Nevaquaya has spent many years working to develop his own artistic style.
Given that his father was the noted and acclaimed Comanche artist and flutist, Doc Tate Nevaquaya, (who painted in the style, art critics refer to as “Oklahoma flat style”—two-dimensional Native American art whose origins go back to the Kiowa Five artists, who began painting in the 1920’s and brought Native art into the contemporary era ), he has had a huge creative shadow to contend with and emerge from.
“I learned that traditional technique from my father,” Tim told me when we talked on the phone recently.
“About a decade ago I had a real creative breakthrough, where I found myself literally up all night, exploring a more abstracted point of view”
“The more I explored, the more came through in regards to colour and design.” He explained. “I felt these were the most interesting and beautiful pieces I’d done.”
“It’s strongly expressive,” Tim says about his paintings, which rely heavily on oil as a medium.
“It’s not as academic as the traditionalists, although it takes facets of the Native American culture and expresses it in a way that really conveys a very deep spiritual message to the viewer.”
“I certainly feel I found my own vision as a painter – this work is born from deep soul-searching and experimentation.”
Tim’s been showing this work with Michael McCormick here in Taos for as long as he’s been making them – just over a decade.
“Michael encouraged me from the start,” he says. “He recognized right away what I was attempting to do, and began representing me immediately.”
“I was so lucky.”
The McCormick Gallery showcases Tim’s work in a room of his own; the saturated colour dances off these modestly sized canvases like rainbow light filtered through a prism. The colour alone in these paintings speak a language.
The movement and gestures captured – the impressions of a dance, a ceremony are powerful images rendered quickly, but succinctly.
Michael had mentioned that Tim had met Hillary Clinton but it turns out that his wife has the rather rare distinction of having worked for both Hillary and Bernie Sanders as an intern! Bernie fans both, they were getting ready to give the Senator from Vermont a nice victory in Oklahoma!
His father, Doc Tate Nevaquaya was largely responsible for the revival of the Plains Indian Flute. Tim too plays the instrument and was in rehearsals for a recital at the University at the time we spoke.
As we ended our conversation, he asked if he could play me a flute song – for healing.
Incredibly beautiful and poignant, the flute carried me away on a wave of pure and gentle sound.
For more about Tim Nevaquaya and his stunning work, please visit the Michael McCormick Gallery website linked below this post.
All images care of the Michael McCormick Gallery