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 Quincy (Water Edge) Tahoma  (1921 - 1956)

About: Quincy (Water Edge) Tahoma


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Lived/Active: New Mexico/Arizona / Mexico      Known for: Indian genre painting, symbolism

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BIOGRAPHY for Quincy Tahoma
1921 (Tuba City, Arizona)
1956 (Santa Fe, New Mexico)

New Mexico/Arizona / Mexico

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Indian genre painting, symbolism

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A Navajo painter and muralist, Quincy Tahoma was also one of the Indian Code Talkers, who played such a critical part in the winning of World War II in the Pacific.  He was born near Tuba City, Arizona and given the name Tahoma, which in Navajo means "Water Edge".  Early in his career, his paintings were serene and soothing in tone, but increasingly they had subject matter of bloody wars and men killing animals.

He attended the Albuquerque Indian School from 1936 to 1940, and did post- graduate work at the Santa Fe Indian School where he developed his unique painting style with pastoral landscapes.

He served overseas in World War II with the United States Army, and then worked a short time as a painter in Hollywood movie studios.  As a full-time artist, he set up his studio in Santa Fe, but he died at age 35, a life shortened by alcoholism and the  accusation that he raped a white woman.

His paintings have a special "signature" that shows the "end" of that particular painting--i.e., a painting of a young girl standing by a horse might have in Tahoma's signature block a tiny picture showing the girl riding the horse.

Sources include:
Patrick Lester, The Biographical Directory of Native American Painters, p. 540-541
Jeanne O. Snodgrass, American Indian Painters: A Biographical Directory, 186-187

Biography from Adobe Gallery:

While at Santa Fe Indian School, Quincy Tahoma, Navajo (1920-1956) developed his unique painting style.  He was active in sports and set a district track record in 1940. After WWII, he established himself as a full-time artist and shared his studios in the Southwest with artists who are now well established.

Clara Lee Tanner rightly said he was “ of the most dynamic, imaginative, and gifted of Southwest artists.”  During most of his life, he experienced misfortune, and died at the age of 35. - Snodgrass 1968

Tahoma painted a wide variety of subject matter but was perhaps best known for his dynamic action filled paintings.  He also painted pictures full of humor.  His signature included a vignette, a miniature scene which depicted what happened after the action in the painting. - Lester 1995

Tahoma died a tragic accidental death at the young age of 35.

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