Newly Discovered Treasures

Quincy Tahoma’s Art Dominates the Parkhurst Studio

Post by Charnell

Marilyn Casabonne with her parents, photo by T. Harmon Parkhurst

Marilyn Casabonne smiled as she sorted through her parents’ Santa Fe memorabilia. Her mind floated back to early childhood days when her family and photographer T. Harmon Parkhurst spent many weekends at a mountain retreat.  Parkhurst snapped a picture of Lyn at age three with her parents at one of those gatherings and to this day, more than seventy years later, it hangs in a place of honor in her home.

Lyn’s sorting produced more than sweet memories of her childhood.  She found three well-preserved black and white 8 x 10s taken by Parkhurst of his studio sometime in the 1946-1950 timeframe. Those photos answer several of the questions Vera and I had about the years the photographer let Navajo artist Quincy Tahoma paint in a loft of his studio on Don Gaspar street in Santa Fe.


One wall of the Parkhurst Studio circa 1946


The first glimpse inside Parkhurst’s Studio shows Tahoma’s paintings displayed on two walls, beside a painting by another (unknown) artist; many Navajo Indian rugs; pieces of pueblo pottery; and a professional photograph by Parkhurst.  The door toward the end of the main wall suggests a depth to the shelf on which the pottery is displayed, and that area may indeed have served as Tahoma’s loft during the early- to mid- 1940s.

If you click on the Parkhurst photo to enlarge it, you’ll find that I’ve superimposed red numbers at the tops of three paintings.

Buffalo Hunt, 1945. Accession #: 2003.153.2. Gift of Duane and Beverly Miller to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

Number 1 is the 1945 Buffalo Hunt painting owned by Duane and Beverly Miller until they donated it in 2003 to the famous  National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.  We received permission to use the digital image too late to include it in the book Quincy Tahoma: The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist, but here it is for you to enjoy.

Number 2 is a 1946 Buffalo Hunt painting currently owned by the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa.  I photographed that painting when I visited the Philbrook several years ago (and therefore can verify it’s the same one as is in this photograph) but cannot include it in this post in the absence of reproduction rights.

Cut-out of the painting (labeled #3) in the Parkhurst Studio photo


Untitled, 1946. Cougar about to pounce. Courtesy of Jim Lotter.

Number 3 is a painting of a cougar about to pounce on a warrior and his steed.  It is almost like Jim Lotter’s painting on page 200 of the book, but there are slight variations.  (Check out the tree limbs, the stance of the cougars, and the warriors’ positions.)   I’ve found that several paintings in this Parkhurst photo are similar to others I have documented, which underscores Quincy Tahoma’s uncanny ability to recreate an image at will.  Pages 118-132 of the book show other “duplicates” that speak to Tahoma’s favorite mental images, as well as his craftsmanship.

Stay tuned, as the next post will explore the treasures I found in the other two Parkhurst photographs of his studio.

What interests you in this old photograph? Do you recognize any of the Tahoma paintings?

[Be sure to read Part II to see another old photo and what it reveals. ]

Remember, if you are reading this in e-mail or on Facebook, you can click through the Tahoma blog to leave a comment. But we welcome your comments on the Quincy Tahoma Facebook page as well. Have you “liked” Quincy?


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14 Responses to Newly Discovered Treasures

  1. Jay Casabonne says:

    Thanks for sharing these photos and History with our family Charnell. My mother called me this afternoon as she was so excited by what you put on this blog. THe book is beautiful!



  2. Charnell says:

    Glad both you and she liked it, Jay. Stay tuned, as a second installment will be posted on Friday.

  3. NoPotCoooking says:

    How interesting to see the paintings hanging in his studio.

  4. Jane Boursaw says:

    That’s a great photo – like something out of a movie.

  5. Old photos are intrinsically interesting, but with this much context, these are extra special.

  6. Alexandra says:

    How cool! Looking at that photo feels like stepping back in time. I can imagine entering and checking out all that Parkhurst had to offer. I love the Buffalo Hunt painting. Reminds me of the Bayeux tapestry, with horses and riders falling all over each other.

  7. Kristen says:

    I love the looks on the people’s faces–and the clothes. I’m looking forward to reading more.

  8. Living Large says:

    What a great find! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Donna Hull says:

    The old photos really make Quincy’s history come alive,especially the photos of the paintings.

  10. This is so fascinating! How did you ladies end up having access to these photos?

  11. Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart says:

    That is very cool. The way you guys track down this stuff amazes me.

  12. Susan says:

    It’s really impressive how much information you’re able to glean from these photos!

  13. Charnell says:

    Kris, Lyn Casabonne, who parents had owned the photos, recently stumbled across them when cleaning out memorabilia. I (Charnell) had photographed Lyn’s Tahoma paintings in 2004 and had kept in touch with her since then. She knew we’d be interested in seeing them, so she brought them in to be copied while we were in Santa Fe for the book signing. I spent many hours going over them to identify the paintings we knew about and to examine those we hadn’t seen before. What a find!

  14. Sheryl says:

    Interesting to have a context in which to view these terrific photos and paintings.

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