Nocona Burgess - Spirit of a Studio

A   T A L E N T   A T   L E G E N D S   G A L L E R Y

Photography by C. Whitney-Ward

When I first stepped into LEGENDS SANTA FE GALLERY  - a few blocks off the Plaza - I was immediately drawn to the work of Comanche Artist Nocona Burgess.

Sometimes it's hard to define what pulls you toward one artist and not another, but for me,  it's the dignity and strength of Nocona's subjects and the bold graphics of each canvas -  a wonderful amalgam of Native tradition and contemporary aesthetic.

 Two photo above - courtesy Legends Gallery website

Nocona was  born in  Lawton, Oklahoma where his family has owned land for five generations. His great, great, grandfather, Chief Quanah Parker (ca. 1852 - 1911),  was the last of the Comanche Chiefs, son of the equally-famed Chief Peta Nokoni.  

He grew up  immersed in this unique Native American culture and a family of artists.  His father attended art school, his grandparents were artists and quilt makers, and his great, grandmother - Daisy Tachaco -  was an accomplished bead worker, despite being  blind.   "With all this art and all these artists around me," notes Nocona, "I had no choice but to pursue art. It was in my blood."
Comanche Chief Quanah Parker (above)  &  
Nocona's painting  of his great, great, grandfather.

S T U D I O   V I S I T

Nocona and his wife Danielle, also an artist, and their four-year old son "Q" live in Cochiti, New Mexico. His studio is his garage - nothing grand - an easel, a table, a stool, lots of acrylic paint, and stacks of provocative finished work.

In process...

"I try to humanize Native Americans," explains Nocona, "bring out their life experience and their spirit in my paintings."

Nocona graduated from the University of Science and Arts in Oklahoma and in 1989  moved to New Mexico enrolling in The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA ) where he received an associates arts degree. He  is now working on his masters degree in art education at UNM.  A recent assignment resulted in a series of wonderful  hand-painted books.

Actor Johnny Depp collects Nocona's work, including this iconic portrait of Keith Richards.

And son "Q"  is showing prowess for art as well and often spends time with his father in  the studio. (he was camera shy and  kept ducking when I tried to take his photo).

"There's something in all of my paintings that people respond to, just like music," explains Nocona,   "an unspoken style, color, brushstrokes, and good design elements."

N O C O N A   B U R G E S S

125 Lincoln Avenue - Santa Fe, NM

(505) 983-5639