Duke Sine’s paintings interpret the ceremonies, history, and dreams of the Apache people. Born in San Carlos, Arizona, he studied at the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe. His works are in the collections of the Heard Museum in Phoenix and the Arizona State Museum in Tucson. In 1988 Duke Sine described his painting Apache Creaton Story: The Things Legends Are Made Of; which appeared in the Arizona State Museum exhibit Among the Western Apache, in the following manner:
“It all begins with the Creator, the Giver of Life. He made the earth, but there were no people there. There were just animals and monsters, but no humans. Changing Woman represents the first woman, or Mother of the Apache people. Changing Woman was lonely; she was the only one on earth. The Creator decided that it was time for people to populate the world.
Inside the earth during this time, there were the Mountain People, supernatural people who were the ancestors of the Apache. They all had different powers: some were medicine men, some were hunters, some were warriors; all the things that Apache people are today. These people are the ones that the Gaan Dancers impersonate. They are the real Gaan. They dress like regular people, but they are supernatural. During this time, the world was barren.
Changing Woman was kneeling and praying, looking directly into the sun and she was impregnated by the Creator. At this time, she was struck by lightning four times. After that, Child of the Water was born. Changing Woman had children at different times, but they always got eaten by monsters, the beings that ruled the world. Apache people believe that they came from within the earth. In this painting you see Child of the Water coming through the water, or through the surface of the earth.
There was another person on the earth; this was Slayer of Enemies. He was a warrior that represents the warrior spirit in the Apache people. Together, Child of the Water and Slayer of Enemies battled with the monsters, or the beings that ruled the earth, and one by one they defeated them. There were eagles, a giant, and different animals like buffalo and antelope that had to be defeated so that the world could be populated. After they slay the monsters, the world was ready for the human race.
To the right are the game animals that were imprisoned underground. After Slayer of Enemies and Child of the Water defeated these beings, they let the game animals loose to help man survive. Each animal has its own spirit and its own positive power that is beneficial to mankind.
After they did this, Changing Woman, Child of the Water, and Slayer of Enemies taught the Apache people how to do the Changing Woman Ceremony-the Sunrise Ceremony-and how the Gaan can help to heal, and protect, and take care of the Apache people in the way that the Creator intended them to be. The Gaan are very powerful beings and are the mainstream of Apache religion.
In the bottom of the painting is the dawn because this is the dawn of mankind. The hummingbirds represent the directions and have a color for the directions. They are going out to all corners of the world telling the world and the universe that the Apache people have emerged.
The other side of the painting has to do with the legend of Coyote, the Trickster, who represents the negative things that man does. One time there was a bag that the Creator told them not to mess around with. Being Coyote, he couldn’t help but do the wrong thing. He grabbed the bag and escaped with the fire. If he hadn’t done this, there would have been daylight forever; but since he stole the fire, there was night, and with it came the other spirits of the night. On this side are the snake, the owl, the bear, and the bat. The Apache people don’t eat them or touch them or have anything to do with them because they have a negative power that can hurt you.”
Source: American Indians of the Southwest and Northern Mexico
Apache Crown Dancer Petroglyphs/Set of Four Watercolors
Artist: Duke SineDescription: (1996) | Image Size/Each: 9”w x 12”h”; Framed Size/Each: 15 1/8”w x 18 1/8”h
Mountain Spirit Dancer in Motion
Artist: Duke SineDescription: White Pencil & Paint (1994) | Image Size: 14”h x 18”w; Framed Size: 20 ¼”h x 25 ¼”w
Award-winning artist, Duke Sine, half Yavapai and half San Carlos Apache, is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). He paints largely with watercolors of subjects that showcase the ceremonial, historical and social aspects of the Apache people such as the dancer shown here. Sine typically uses fine lines and details in his works with sweeping, bright or dark background colors establishing the mood for each piece. The contrasting white pencil on black paper in this piece is striking.
Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer
Artist: Duke SineDescription: White Pencil & Paint on Black Paper (1994) | Image Size: 14”h x 11”w; Framed Size: 23”h x 19”w
Another fine example of Yavapai Apache artist Duke Sine’s work that utilizes black and white scales and various shades of grey that blend back into the black or white mass. Though formally trained at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), Sine credits his late father for “having taught me the basics of art, the value of nature and respect for the Apache heritage and traditions. Throughout my life, I’ve tried to interpret those themes in my art.”