TONY ABEYTA: Welcome to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
CORAL PEÑA: One of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW's newest appraisers, Tony Abeyta, is the son of celebrated Navajo artist and craftsman, Narciso Abeyta.
But Tony has become well known in his own right over the past several decades for his richly colorful New Mexico landscapes and other mixed-media works in which he grapples with the challenging issues of our ever-changing natural environment.
During ROADSHOW's June 2022 visit to New Mexico, we had the chance to visit Tony at his studio in downtown Santa Fe.
ABEYTA: I'm one of maybe three or four working artists who are right downtown on the plaza.
We're sort of in the commercial district of things.
So I've found a sanctuary upstairs on the second floor hidden away from everything.
Always, in this studio, it's works in progress.
So you'll see a lot of starts, and you'll see some, "That looks finished but it ain't done until I say it is."
What I do is nature-based, it's all based in ideas about, you know, a maternal Earth, about plants, about animals, about cosmos.
All of these things become the subject matter of the next painting.
And some of the works, especially the abstract works, are very much about that.
In the subconscious, how I can create a work of art that just happens.
My father was a painter, and coincidentally he had one of his paintings on the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW some years back and I saw that episode and I was really excited about that.
LINDA DYER: It's painted by a Native American artist, and he was a Navajo artist, by the name of Narciso Abeyta.
His Indian name was Ha-so-de.
ABEYTA: He was instrumental in really directing me into being an artist.
It's amazing how much that'll stick in your consciousness, right?
You'll see it and you'll watch it and then 10 years later you're like, you know, learned that from pops, right.
And so that that was my experience with my father's work, and of course, later on as I became an artist, when I started selling paintings, I'd go out and buy a painting of my dad's.
DYER: But it's a great painting by a man who lived a very rich, colorful life.
He was also a Golden Gloves boxer and a silversmith so I'm glad to see this painting here today.
GUEST: We definitely love it.
DYER: Well, thank you for bringing in.
GUEST: Thank you.
ABEYTA: As a Native American and a painter and as an artist, as Navajo Diné, and coming from Gallup, New Mexico, I've been surrounded by, you know, indigenous people, ideas, values, spirituality.
All of these things have been part of my backstory and how that enters into my artwork is so much of the ideas that I'm working through is allowing all of those things, which I feel are very innate, you know, some of this is in our DNA just like trauma is in our DNA, you know, how we have some remembrance, some ideas about relocation, about genocide, about boarding schools.
All of these things follow us in a way that we are still processing, and even my children still process these things, but they also inform the art.
Who am I as this Native American guy?
I'm looking at land, I'm looking at people, I'm looking at the connection between Earth and cosmos and that narrative of what does land mean?
You know, what is water to my own indigenous origins?
And then how do I tell that story?
That's a tough, you know, it's a tall order right, for a painter to capture all of that.
But that's what my my job has been is just trying to find out how far I can push it to get to a place where it is right as rain.
You know, that's that's what these mean to me.
Right now, I love being a landscape painter, and sometimes it feels so conventional and it feels so traditional.
But we're also living in this time where this planet is changing, the temperatures are changing, the vegetation is changing, and I can attest to that because I watch and I see it.
And I've begun a whole series of work that respond to that, so I did a show two years ago which was "Our changing Planet."
It was an exhibition of paintings about that change, like what does it feel like to bear witness to forest fires seasonally?
So I did these paintings of fires and then tornadoes.
As an artist, all I can do is respond to it and try to capture those moments, document them, and also how does it feel to be an artist concerned about our planet and then responding to it to create art about it.
That's part of it but it's also that I am trying to tell a story about what is the connection between man and nature?
What is our true love for it?
Why do people get out and hike or climb?
Why do people want to just go outside and lay on the ground and look at stars?
I'm immensely grateful that I have this experience to actually just make art that didn't exist before and, it's a good life.