Quincy Tahoma’s Art Dominates the Parkhurst Studio
Post by Charnell
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.
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.
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.
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. ]
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