Landis Bahe (Navajo) was born on August 2, 1978 in Tuba City, Arizona. His maternal clan originates from Hard Rock, Arizona. It was while living in Las Vegas, Nevada that many of Bahe's award-winning paintings were created and inspired. Majority of his art has to do with the ethereal beauty, mysticality and spirituality of the Navajo culture. He paints images such as Yei Be Cheii's with floating orbital turquoise stones, desert landscapes watermarked with wedding basket designs ("Patterns In The Earth") and vibrant colored southwestern sunrises or sunsets ("Sun 4 Head").
Bahe spent his youth growing up between Flagstaff, Arizona and Hard Rock. During the school year he lived in town with his parents and during the summers, on the Navajo reservation with his beloved grandmother Stella Badonie. He graduated from Sinagua High School in 1996 and created two paintings for the only two art classes he has ever taken. Upon graduation Bahe moved to Las Vegas and for some time worked as a supervisor for an explosives company. One of his major projects during this time included the Hoover Dam By-Pass Project which was started in January 2005.
By 2007, exposure to an urban lifestyle in Las Vegas finally accelerated his interest in art, both canvas and skin. At a time when mixed martial arts (MMA) was on the rise, so was the tattoo industry. He became involved in Jujitsu and Judo, even placing second in a Nevada State Championship. In Vegas it was not uncommon to see MMA athletes intermixing with the local tattoo scene, for Bahe a brief tattoo art apprenticeship resulted. Now days his art career is not just based around painting but also the practice of tattooing. The demands of his multi-skilled business, Yellow Hair Studio, have him traveling throughout the southwest to expand his clientele/collector base.
2007 not only marks the start of his art career but also his submersion. Bahe started to participate in local art shows, galleries, and community art walks. In Las Vegas he was an occasional featured artist at Cornerstone Gallery during Las Vegas' monthly Arts Walk. In July of 2009 he was featured at a local social scene called Uptown Billiards-a business active in the Flagstaff Arts Walk. By August 2010 his art made headway to Santa Fe, New Mexico and was featured for tourist and southwestern art enthusiast at the Eldorado Hotel & Spa. In November 2010, Bahe was invited as one of several featured artist to a fine-art and sales exhibit, "Through Native Eyes" which was held at Nativo Lodge in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The event gained coverage through local news stations and radio for featuring many renowned Native artists. At each of Bahe's exhibits the award-winning, "Winds of Change" typically becomes his main attraction.
"Winds of Change" serves as Bahe's single realization piece from a series of many Yeii Bi Cheii paintings. As an artist it is the piece that confirms his talent and skill to not only himself but others. Previous paintings and art works of his include the same components but this one in particular has a charisma to it over the rest.
"Winds of Change" placed second at the 61st Annual Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture in Flagstaff. In the following exhibit at the Central 64th Annual Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, Arizona, it placed first. The two award-winning premieres granted Bahe affiliation to Art of the People (artist union) whom, during the Navajo Nation Fair hosted Window Rocks 1st Annual Navajo Arts Walk. With "Winds of Change" Bahe has marked an artist’s pivotal point where his style is realized and it is exposed to an even broader scope of art lovers.
The style of Bahe encompasses usage of brilliant colors, vibrant emotions and a theatrical utility of chiaroscuro. In his many Yeii Bi Cheii paintings the male figures are set in either a strong and stoic pose or caught off-guard in a bewildered stance. The direction and intensity of lighting is based upon a sun, moon or fire. The theme's mood determines weather the palette is made up of bright orange and pinks or blues and grays. The only element consistent in all of his Yeii Bi Cheii paintings are the head masks, forever devoid of emotion and full of mystery. In his diptych grisaille "Come On" three Yeii Be Cheii's are arising out of a large dark pool in the moonlight. The lead figure is gesturing the other two to follow. It is this atypical depiction of the sacred Navajo Yeii Bi Cheii that stirs some controversy and even gains admirers. He reveals a paradox to a non-native public, the Yeii Bi Cheii-a human body with humanistic qualities guided by the head of a Navajo Deity.
In his nature-themed paintings Bahe refrains from including elements of landscaping for backgrounds and only emphasizes light/color brilliance on organic floating subjects. In "Male Female" a light source from beyond the picture plane illuminates glossy butterfly wings and in "Hummingbird" (also absent of a landscaped background) an incandescent sheen is achieved on rainbow-colored feathers. The same use of domineering colors and sharp contrasting luminescence is also prevalent in his other landscape paintings, "Bright Blue Sky," "Coming Home For Dinner" and "Sunset Mesa".
For 2011 Bahe will be showing more of his paintings at the 53rd Annual Heard Museum Guild-Indian Fair & Market in Phoenix, Arizona. To date, he has created and sold more than 50 works of different mediums, including watercolor and sketches-both pencil and ink. Currently his most sought-after paintings are done in acrylic.
Every art piece Bahe has created, from tattoos to skateboard designs and sculptures to canvas; they are enriched with "Navajo". He paints these images and themes for his children who are growing up Las Vegas. Through his art Bahe conveys some common Navajo teachings but more effectively he also introduces to his kids what a Yeii Bi Cheii is and what the land of the Navajo Nation looks like. His art themes may be unsettling to the Navajo traditionalist and doesn't fit in with the conservative Native American Art genre, but a Landis Bahe painting is colorful, lyrical, emotive and alluring. As long as his children are endeared to what he paints for them his passion for art will continue.