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Waiting for the Bus (Anadarko Princess)

by T.C. Cannon

Lithograph, 106/125
Dimensions: 32 x 22
Purchased through a National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1979

Waiting for the Bus (Anadarko Princess) by T.C. Cannon

The Artwork

In Waiting for the Bus (Anadarko Princess), T.C. Cannon chose the vibrant colors to illustrate a possibly mundane moment in the life of a contemporary Native American woman. By using the complementary colors of red and green, the artist is able to draw the viewer's interest to the center of the composition. The woman's use of an umbrella for shade and the strong shadow cast by the bench indicate that the depicted day may be comfortably warm. This idea is reinforced by the pink sky and few clouds. From the expression upon her face to the way her left hand grasps her purse, the viewer is able to sense that fact that she may be uncomfortable.

T.C. Cannon used a flat, graphic style that is utilized in both Native American traditional artwork and pop art imagery. In this work he used color in a manner that was characteristic of the pop art movement, yet in this composition, the same color choices help provide this lithograph its expressive quality.

The Artist

Tommy Wayne (T.C.) Cannon was born in Lawton, Oklahoma, to a Kiowa father and a Caddo mother. He was given the name Pai-doung-u-day, which translates into "One Who Stands In The Sun." His early life was spent near the Zoltone springs in Southern Oklahoma. As a teenager the family moved to the Gracemont area where he attended the local high school. He displayed a talent for drawing and writing at an early age winning numerous awards for his artwork around the Gracemont and Anadarko areas.

After graduating from high school, he attended the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe from 1964-1966 where he was introduced to Luiseño artist and teacher Fritz Scholder. It was at IAIA during the "golden age" where he studied alongside other talented artists, such as Earl Biss, Doug Hyde, Linda Lomahaftewa, Sherman Chaddlesone, Parker Boyiddle, Kevin Red Star and Bill Prokopiof, among others. At IAIA, his sense of humor in his early works such as "Mama and Popa Have the Going Home to Shiprock Blues," to his later works emerged. Whether it was an Indian in native garb wearing sunglasses, to an Indian with a Van Gogh on the wall of his house, Cannon combined the old traditional art and incorporated it into the so called “new world,” deviating from the traditional or Flat Style of American Indian art to his unique contemporary interpretation of Indian art.

After graduating from IAIA, he studied briefly at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1966. While in San Francisco, he quit school to enlist in the Army. While serving with the 101st airborne in Vietnam, he won numerous medals, including two bronze stars as well as a Medal of Valor from the Vietnamese government. After being honorably discharged from the army, he returned to Oklahoma.

In 1972, he attended Central State University in Edmond. That same year, Cannon’s former teacher Fritz Scholder was invited by the American Museum of Art of the Smithsonian Institution to exhibit a two-person show with one of his former students. Scholder selected Cannon and the exhibit opened in Washington, D.C., and traveled to Romania, Yugoslavia, Berlin, and London.

In 1974, he again returned to Santa Fe to make it his permanent home, but he was soon invited to spend one year as an artist-in-residence at Dartmouth College. During this year in Hanover, New Hampshire, he developed a collaborative relationship with Japanese master woodcarver Maeda and master printer Uchikawa, who were also working as artists-in-residence.

After relocating permanently to Santa Fe, his life later came to an end in a one-car accident on May 8, 1978, leaving the world and art community of the future contributions of this talented and avant-garde artist, composer, and writer.

Though his time to "Stand In The Sun" was brief, he helped to revise and replace outmoded and paternalistic concepts of Native art with a new and vigorous category of "art by artists who happen to be Indian." He accepted the challenge to interpret his culture in ways that combined innovation and tradition. He was also willing to explore techniques and materials that were non-Native, drawing on images and methods from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Leaving behind a wealth of work, his efforts have continued to flourish both in its original cultural context and in the international art world, inspiring and influencing other artists who have come after him, making him one of the most influential and important artists of the twentieth century.