"I guess I got into it because my dad was an artist," artist Daniel McCoy (Muskogee Creek/Potawatomi) says of his own practice. "Well, a frustrated artist. And a biker."
McCoy's father, a non-Native, plied his skills as an automotive detailer; clean lines and pinstriping on motorcycle gas tanks and reinvigorated cars. McCoy says his dad's work reminded him of the flatline Native art of his childhood home near Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"I had no idea it was not culturally related," he continues with a laugh.
Still, it inspired him; as he bloomed artistically, he turned as well to some of the usual suspects that have inspired so many contemporary creators: comic books,
cartoons and Jack Kirby. By the early '90s, McCoy was working as a billboard painter in Oklahoma, but it was also around the time he was accepted to the Institute of American Indian Arts and moved to Santa Fe. Between classes, he was still a sign-maker, which led to crafting signs for Canyon Road galleries and, eventually, the museum system where he'd also work as an art handler.
"I'd do my own art on the side; assistant work, and shows, too," he recalls, "and it all started with Hot Wheels and Star Wars figures."
For his next foray, McCoy joins forces with Midtown DIY space Etiquette for Allsup's at the Hinterlands, a sort of culmination of a slow and steady recent consumption and exploration of local landscapes and culture.
Curator and Etiquette co-founder Drew Lenihan calls it a "mid-career retrospective," a type of exhibit we don't often see in more mainstream institutions. For the show, McCoy and Lenihan spent months conversing on ideas of geography, history, colonization and artistry; Hinterlands is the result of that unusually collaborative effort.
From his studio space at the Poeh Cultural Center in Pojoaque, which he shares with his former IAIA instructor Mateo Romero, McCoy employs a hybrid use of reds, oranges, yellows and blues for Mondrian-esque boxes of color beneath depictions of New Mexico's arid hills, mountains, arroyos and flora, which he paints by brush with India ink and which recall a certain graphic novel style similar to the backgrounds of R Crumb's take on the Book of Genesis. The color work is often acrylic, though the show also features oils, watercolors and enamels.