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 T. C. Cannon  (1946 - 1978)

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Lived/Active: New Mexico/Oklahoma / Mexico      Known for: mod Indian figure, genre, graphics

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from Auction House Records.
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Marty Perry:

My friend was T.C. Cannon.  I have read some books and I think they fairly well paint a picture of his life by those who knew him longer and better than I did.  His first art show was in Anadarko, my roommate and I were invited but I had college work to finish.  She went and he gave "us" one crafted 'Anadarko?'  My room mate told me he was really disappointed I did not go.  I felt bad about that but I was trying to work on a degree in art/psychology.  She, of course, took the piece, and several years ago I asked if I might enjoy it for a few years and she told me she just could not part with it.

The really sad part is, he would come over with a couple of his 'Anglo' friends and a small group would listen to him play guitar and sing with another of his friends.  Eventually, we would all fall asleep, and in the morning I would get ready for classes in Edmond and my roommate would go to work but T.C. always left a poem behind. Having art in common (I was in art appreciation when he was creating art) was always a communication between us.

I wrote some poems; he encouraged my artistic (lack of) talent.  Very naive I did not realize how famous he would become when he said, "I can fly to any major city and have friends meet me".  I had never thought of anything like that.  Now, I have friends all over the world but in another field.  We would talk about Woodie Guthrie; he thoroughly enjoyed Bob Dylan and lots of other music.  Late evening a friend or two of his would sing harmoniously with TC as he played his guitar. We discussed art and mediums a lot.  I wanted to go to the Louvre as Impressionist art is my favorite.  He told me of his trip there and his reaction to a Van Gogh.

He would talk about what painting he was working on and 'bounce' titles off of me.  We never dated or anything, but I just really liked him as a good soul and as a friend.  Some of us looked at a 'cabin' near Crescent - I think one of the guys parents owned it - I donated a cook stove if any thing ever came out of some 'fixing up' of the place.  He had written down some dimensions for a stained glass window he was contemplating.  I kept it because they would need to look at the measurements and not have to re-measure it. On the opposite side, I noticed later, was a sketching of an Indian elder.  I could not believe he had just folded it up.

We lost contact for some months - I moved out of town, and I do not know what the other people did at that time.  I did read in the local paper he was having a showing @ Pickard.  Still feeling bad I did not make it to his first show, I went though he was not there, looked at his work and signed the guest book by first name only as I knew he would know I went to appreciate his art.

He spoke of 'things' in New York during this time frame.  Attending college elsewhere and then returning to OKC to work, I looked to see if he was in the phone book.  I thought he might have left for New Mexico.  I missed visiting with him and listening to his music.  He answered the phone and I asked if he knew who it was to which of course he replied, "yes, by the Southern drawl"  He said he was packing to move.  I told him I would really like for him to stop by and visit and bring his guitar, sing and tell me what was going on in his life if he had time.  He said yes and arrived a few hours later.  I had a different roommate he had not met before, and he was always very private sharing his talent.  I joked with him and asked when he was going to paint something for me (he would laugh).  After my roommate FINALLY went to her room to sleep, he got out his guitar.  We talked a bit.  He was in love with a woman named Suzanne and I wanted to hear all about it.  I was so happy for him.  Then, he told me he had written a song for her. He began to play the acoustic and sing the song.  I had tears in my eyes. He was such a kind, brilliant soul. I talked a little bit about my 'boyfriends'. I knew he was leaving the next day so he was getting ready to leave when I said, "now when can I expect that painting?" He had that familiar laugh and took his guitar pic and said, I will leave this. I still have it. I moved so many times over the years the poems and 'sketching' were eventually lost but the memory remains.

When I read of his death, I called the old roommate.  It seemed some things were already disappearing before everything was formally logged.  I do not know who or where or what items were taken.  I was sad to lose this friend though it had been quite a long time since I had any contact with him.  I will never forget the stars and stripes boots, the old red truck with the painting on the side, the poetry, superb conversation and 'gentleness' and 'privateness' about him.  If he did not know you, he did not break out the
guitar or go visit a person he had not seen in a couple of years, spur of the moment. I have been to the Louvre and I understand totally what he felt for the art.

When his memorial exhibit, retrospective went on display at the Cowboy Hall of Fame I told everyone I knew him.  First, I just started laughing as here is this "art by an Indian" in a 'cowboy focused museum'.  How fitting.  He would have had a great smile over that. All that I viewed, I could feel his essence in the art, just as he had done when he first saw a Van Gogh in Paris and I have been to the Louvre.

I must say he was one of the most beautiful, brilliant and talented persons I have had the pleasure to know.  One book I have says "people try to say they were closer to him than they were".  If I could only remember the words to that song!  I was a very small person in his just evolving art world to express the bridge between Indian art and living in this society, but I still miss his friendship. I have purchased a few poster prints and that is about it.

I apologize this is so long but, that was how it was for me and the great advanced soul of TC. I saw his Impressionist art beginning to flow and by the way, TC stands for "Tom Cat".  He had a marvelous humor.

Biography from Adobe Gallery:
T. C. Cannon (Caddo/Kiowa/Choctaw) died young and left behind a beautiful, powerful oeuvre.  He was born in 1946 in Lawton, Oklahoma, and died as a result of an automobile accident in Santa Fe in 1978.

He had attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, studying with Fritz Scholder.  He seemed somewhat bitter and distrustful of authority.  One of his teachers suggested to T. C. Cannon that they get in two rocking chairs facing each other and rock and frown until all the aggression was gone.  He was away from home for the first time, so perhaps his quiet and reflective nature was misread as bitterness.

T. C. Cannon has mischiefness in his work.  He treated the Indian subject in brightly arrayed costuming as a “dandy.”

He portrayed the Indian of a distant past, but placed him in today’s world. His people were always dressed to be beautiful.

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