Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 5, 2001 - Issue 35



Four Brothers Follow Artistic Family Tradition


 by Shawnee-News-Star


Calvert Nevaquaya displays some of his three-dimensional art in March 2001 in Apache, Okla.

Four brothers raised in Apache, Ok. are following in their father's footsteps -- and emerging from his shadow.

Each of the sons of the late Doc Tate Nevaquaya, renowned Native American artist and flutist, has traveled the broad trail their father pioneered.

The journey began in the 1950s as they were exposed on a daily basis, to his paintings depicting Indian history and music he played on the flutes he carved.

Each of the brothers -- Tim, Sonny, Edmond and Calvert -- has chosen a path down the trail cleared for them 50 years ago.

With their own unique talents in oil paintings, watercolors, acrylics and flute carving, they're still developing their places in the art world which is slowing drawing them out of their father's silhouette.

"All of our children grew up surrounded by their dad's paintings. They sat down at the dinner table and they looked at his work," recalled their mother Charlotte Nevaquaya.

"Doc knew all the Native American stories from the 1800s and he painted them their entire lives. There was no way they couldn't have been influenced by the stories he told them."

Tim was the first of the Nevaquaya brothers to set off on the art trail.

"When I was 3, in 1969, I remember seeing a television announcing the astronauts had walked on the moon," said Tim. "I ran to my room and grabbed a pencil and paper and never stopped drawing."

Tim recalled how painting came to him through a nightly ritual with Doc Tate.

"When my father painted in his studio, I would fall asleep at his feet watching him," Tim said. "He would tell me stories as he painted free people, beautiful sunsets, land and horses."

In the beginning, at age 13, Tim received his first oil set -- he's the only one of the four brothers who use oils -- from his father and painted several items with him, Doc Tate painted people and Tim painted sunsets.

"My father was my teacher, I was his apprentice with flutes and silhouettes," said Tim. "He taught me that the only way to do a silhouette is to explore it and advance it. This is something I will carry with me throughout my art career."

Later, he developed his own talent for making his paintings come to life.

"I'd put on tapes of Indian music and I would become the dancer and flute player I was painting. At other times, I became the warrior," Tim explained.

"This is what came out on my canvas."

In other art his favorite subject -- thunderstorms.

"If he could be a storm-chaser, he would," said his wife Sandra. "He'll say to me, 'let's go and see the sunset or follow that storm.' He thinks thunderstorms are beautiful. He creates a beautiful painting depicting it after he sees it."

Tim's flutemaking also is inspired by his father.

"When I make my flutes I use cedar because it gets you fired up. You see designs form in the wood. I can't go to sleep because I'm thinking about it," Tim said.

Like his brother Tim, Edmond also began art at 13 but started at the opposite end of the trail from Tim. He was playing the flute with his father long before he started painting with watercolors in 1995.

Edmond didn't paint with his father; rather he asked his father to critique his work after it was completed and before he sold it.

"I'd see my dad with my piece and I was amazed at how he'd grab a rush and go along and add one small touch and it would make a difference in the world," said Edmond.

Edmond realized that his father knew best.

"I decided early on that the best thing I could do was follow in the footsteps of the path my father had already paved for me," Edmond said. "Even today I get stuck on an idea and I look at photos of my dad and his prints and they always inspire me to go on."

Calvert, the youngest of the brothers didn't being his journey down the trail until after Doc Tate's death. "I never sat with Dad or had his assistance with my art. I just learned from his work. He had movement and motion in his art," Calvert said.

Though Doc Tate is known for a traditional flat base style, Calvert is trying a three-dimensional style.

"My art is detail-oriented and my colors are different than what dad would have done," Calvert said. "I want people to recognize me as Calvert Nevaquaya when they think of my art, not as Doc Tate's son. I'm proud of my dad, but I want to prove myself based on my talent, not his."

Sonny, the oldest of the four sons, lives in Hollywood, Florida. He painted in the 70's, but his primary focus today is flute music.

"I was always astonished with my father's music. It magnetized me to him. All the sudden I'd hear his music and it did something to me," Sonny said.

"Whenever I speak about music, I always tell people that if it weren't for my father I wouldn't be where I was," Sonny said. "I carry this with me wherever I go."



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