artist because they exhibit a heightened sense of abstraction.
“Tony was in that next generation following all those artists coming out of the Santa Fe Indian School with their realistic dancers and so on. He was contemporary with Helen Hardin. They were close friends, and they were both pushing the envelope in terms of what was expected of Indian artists in the ’60s.
“At one point, early on, he entered both pottery pieces and paintings in the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, and his work was so different they had to create new categories. He was breaking barriers in terms of new ideas in pottery, and he also continued with his painting, which is pretty unusual. Most artists end up establishing themselves in one medium.” Tisdale said that Da’s resulting reputation shows up in comments she has heard from people attending the MIAC exhibit. Those who are familiar with his paintings are surprised that he also made pots, and vice versa.
Da’s career as a potter lasted a little over 15 years, until 1982, when he suffered brain damage as a result of a motorcycle crash. Eventually he was able to produce more paintings — two of these late pieces are in the exhibit — but after the accident he reportedly never remembered ever having done pottery.
Da, who died in 2008, and his wife had three children. One daughter, Amber, is an administrative director with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Their son, Jarrod, is an artist in Seattle, and their daughter Royale Dá is a news anchor with KOAT-TV in Albuquerque. Tisdale mentioned that Royale was very young when her father had his accident. “She was probably too young to know what was going on, but one memory she has of Tony is when he would go into his studio and not come out for a week. That definitely shows in the meticulousness of his work.”
In preparing to stage the Creative Spark! exhibition, Tisdale worked with Charles King, owner of King Galleries in Scottsdale,