The Archer by Quincy Tahoma

The Archer by Quincy Tahoma

Quincy Tahoma painted The Archer in 1944. He was 27 years old, but the government thought he was 24, and he was happy to go along with the deception. He liked being the young Navajo artist whose talent couldn’t be kept on the reservation. But he was living multiple lives, and that became obvious in 1944.

Tahoma wanted to fight in the war, but a childhood injury that severely limited the use of his left arm prevented him from doing so. As a native speaker of the Navajo language, the government thought he could be useful in intelligence work, and called him up in 1943, but they soon sent him home for reasons that remain unclear. So in 1944 he disseminated several conflicting stories about his war service.

Tahoma was accustomed to leading a double life. As a student at the Santa Fe Indian School he always had one foot in his native Navajo culture, and one foot in white America. After his father died, he was raised partly by an aunt, and partly by several boarding schools that taught Native Americans to integrate into white society. He found art through an incredibly influential teacher named Dorothy Dunn. As an artist, Tahoma relied on white America for his income. Tourists flocked to New Mexico to see and experience Native American culture while they could. Tahoma was happy to paint the pictures that they wanted to see, pictures of a proud native heritage that mixed cultures and drew on all of his life experience.

In 1944 he was the darling of the New Mexico art scene. He was featured in a short film, and he worked for the Museum of New Mexico, painting scenes of early humans.

Man Becomes an Artist by Quincy Tahoma

The Archer shows off Tahoma’s confidence, but it also reveals his immaturity. It shows a confident, clear-eyed hunter who bags his prey, as we can see in the cartouche. But the composition is flat and one dimensional, lacking the drama of his best paintings. Also, Tahoma mistakes the musculature of the archer’s right knee.

Still, it reveals some of the techniques that made Tahoma famous. The sequential art in the cartouche is exquisite. The mixture of inking and painting techniques lends the painting an illustrative quality. The bird in the upper left defines the frame as in so many Tahomas. And the characteristic blue-green of the archer’s loin cloth is still as brilliant as the day it was painted.

The Archer cartouche

The Archer isn’t the best painting by Quincy Tahoma, but it displays a blossoming talent. It reveals a young artist who has yet to face alcoholism, and who hasn’t yet reckoned with the consequences of his double lives.

Drowning in 2020

What a year.

I remember the year we had our second child, Leta. That was a difficult year. Having a two year old and a newborn in the house was not easy. Ultimately, I failed that test in many ways. I don’t think I failed as a father, but I did a lot of damage to myself in order to get through the year.

I changed jobs shortly after Leta was born, but I was never able to succeed at that job. The anxiety from the birth and changing jobs just took over my life. I developed ulcers and other health issues that took me years to beat.

This year was harder. I know I’m not alone when I say that I felt like I was drowning. With the virus ravaging the country and a president who insisted on calling it a hoax or downplaying its effects, it felt like the world was closing in on me.

And that’s what produced this album. I wrote it in the first few months of lockdown, when there was much false hope, but no real hope for an end to the unfolding tragedy.

This music differs from most of my other music in many ways. For one, there’s only one collaborator on it, unlike my other recent work which has featured many other collaborators. Also, it’s much darker. It’s a bleak, synthesized hellscape that chokes off the light. It’s violent and dark and lonely.

Just like 2020.

I’m proud to say that I didn’t fail this year. As the world was melting down around me, I didn’t drown. I swam. I was promoted at my job. I took a leadership position in my community. I volunteered at the local library. I made things. And I didn’t come out with any new health problems.

But still, the year mostly felt like I was drowning.

Thanks for listening!

FYNIX is Drowning in December

I think it’s time for a new collection of solo music from my pop/EDM/hiphop alias, FYNIX. The new EP is called FYNIX is Drowning, and it’s all music that I’ve written during 2020. As you can imagine, it’s a little darker than my usual stuff. I just released the first track on SoundCloud.

Jazz from California

Jazz isn’t necessarily the first thing you think of, when you think of California. You might think of surfing, Dick Dale, the Golden Gate Bridge, or Hollywood. But California has a rich history in Jazz.

Don’t forget that California made Benny Goodman a star, and made swing music into popular music. After the war, dozens of amazing soloists were made in California, including Dexter Gordon, Lester Young, Art Pepper, and Eric Dolphy. Household names like Dick Brubeck, Stan Getz, and Cal Tjader all started their careers in California.

I put together this playlist to celebrate the great jazzers from CA. Listen to the end to catch some more modern artists who stand tall with the rest of these greats.

We all get ghosted sometimes

Collaboration is a struggle. Often, even when someone says that they want to work together, they may not really know what they want. Even if they do produce something, you may not like it, or they may not like what you do.

This remix is one such example. I saw a Reddit post seeking remixes on a nice original electronic track by an artist named Informal. I downloaded the stems and played some keyboards under them. Then I sent the mix to my buddy Drizztopher Walken and he laid down some vocals.

I sent it back to the original artist and… nothing. Ghosted.

Oh well. It happens more often than I’d like to admit. And if I’m honest, I sometimes have to do it with other people too. I’ve never ghosted anyone, but I have politely told them that our track wasn’t working out. I had to tell them that I had too much going on to keep investing in a collaboration that I knew wasn’t going to work out for me.

It sucks to be on both ends of that transaction, but as an avid collaborator who has worked with hundreds of artists, I know that it happens. I still like the track that we produced, even if the original artist didn’t like it.