Das of our lives

Pasatiempo - - Mixed Media -

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

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