Arizona-based Apache artist Douglas Miles is probably known to many Santa Feans interested in contemporary Native art—he's shown in and around our fair city since his major solo debut at the Museum of Contemporary Native Art in 2004. He's been back to town a few times since, but with his upcoming appearance alongside fellow Native artist Jason Garcia at the Poeh Cultural Center (6 pm Thursday Aug. 17. Free. 78 Cities of Gold Road, Pojoaque, 455-5041), he uses skateboards, film, paintings and more for one badass explosion of art.
People expect a lot from Native artists. Does that make it hard to be "contemporary?"
Yes and no. It really depends on what market, what region, what city you're in. If I take my paintings—which have a lot of street-isms and techniques, for lack of a better term—to Santa Fe, people will say, 'Oh, that's nice.' but if I take them to Chicago or New York or San Francisco, they don't think twice about it. They just say, 'Oh, that's dope. Where you from?'
I've heard this work was inspired by time you spent in San Francisco. Is that true?
I was awarded a fellowship at the de Young museum in San Francisco, so I lived and worked there for two months. You know, my work will go from one market to another, one city to another, and wherever I am, I feel like that city or town finds its way into the work.
And you don't really tend to stick to one style or medium, right?
It used to be when I'd show, it got to a point where people would come and be like, 'You're the skateboard guy!' And I started to feel like skateboards turned me into a gimmick. I didn't want to keep rehashing skateboards. ... I do murals, paintings, I do photographs—many you can see on my Instagram, @dmiles1_apache. I work in found art; I was never trying to be cool or trendy. I was trying to do something that I thought was cool, that my son would like.