Das of our lives
During the 1960s, Tony Da took the staid world of Pueblo pottery and slingshot it into the arena of modernist art. At the 1968 Gallup Intertribal Indian Ceremonial, his pottery entries were deemed so original that judges had to create a new category to award them. His sleek and elegant pots abandoned their practical origins in the kitchen hearth to becomes art objects. Adding bits of turquoise, silver, and mother-ofpearl to his pots, Da (pronounced day) reveled in the glittering imperfections of his handcrafted artworks. He developed a wide array of methods to expand the artistic possibilities of pottery, including scratching directly onto the surface with sgraffito techniques and applying a blow torch to create abstract designs.
After Da was injured in a 1982 motorcycle accident, he began producing paintings that have rarely been shown. Eighteen of these paintings, along with 30 Da pots, are included in a new exhibit, Creative Spark: The Life and Art of Tony Da, at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (710 Camino Lejo on Museum Hill). The show opens on Sunday, Feb. 13, and runs until Jan. 1, 2012; entry is by museum admission. A book examining Da’s life and work, written by Charles King and Richard L. Spivey, is published in conjunction with the exhibit in August. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information, call 476-1250.
Tony Da: Black Box With Lid, circa 1971; above, Deer Hunter, 1976