Short Film “The Mystery of Now” (2019) Features Artist Douglas Miles, Apache Skateboards Brand, and Life on the San Carlos Apache Reservation

By: Gabrielle Garcia

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As an alum of Self Graphics & Art’s Professional Printmaking Program, Douglas Miles, a San Carlos Apache-Akimel O'odham artist, printmaker, filmmaker, muralist, public speaker and photographer from Arizona and founder of Apache Skateboards, is trailblazing ahead with an extensive feature in the short film, The Mystery of Now (2019) directed by Audrey Buchanan. The film was a part of the official selection of the National Geographic Short Film Showcase and the Mountain Film Festival, and received the Hayden Kennedy Award at the 5 Point Adventure Film Festival


For Miles, The Mystery of Now “is a visual meditation about life on the Apache nation via lived experience of Apache Skateboards. It’s a soulfully joyous glimpse into hard-edged lives of Native kids becoming artists, musicians, skaters, creatives, and leading in their community using art, music and skateboarding as a means of expression and power.”* The film is biographical in its exploration of Miles’ life and history as well as the larger community on San Carlos Apache reservation through the specific lens of Apache Skateboards. At its core, the film embodies a deep sense of power through its specific cultural, spiritual, and community grounding, as well as its unapologetic confrontation and reclamation of Apache history and representation. 


Overall, Miles’ artistic practice with its many mediums, encourages reflection on how art can foster community-building and promote pride and well-being, especially among young people. Miles recently collaborated with Tommy Guerrero and REAL SKATEBOARDS on a custom skate deck for Actions REALized. Prior, he collaborated with actor and author Ethan Hawke and artist Greg Ruth on a New York Times bestseller graphic novel, Indeh: A Story of the Apache Wars.

Douglas Miles’ work is rooted in Apache history, deeply engaged with the world of contemporary pop culture, and inspired by his family. Miles’ work has been exhibited nationally, including Princeton University, Columbia University, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, and the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum in Santa Fe, among others. Several pieces of his work are in the collection of the National Museum of the American Indian. His paintings are in private collections in France, Germany, New York, and Los Angeles. Miles' and Apache Skateboard's art is also in the permanent collections of the Montclair Art Museum, Eiteljorg Museum, Warner Brothers Studios and The Eddie Basha Collection.  

Miles began working with SHG approximately 12 years ago and, thus far, has produced several prints, the most notable being "Apache 59" (2018), which was featured at our 2018 Annual Print Fair and Paper Fashion Gala, and on our blog, and “Cowboys & Indian’s (2013) in collaboration with Eriberto Oriol. These prints follow their predecessors "Apache Los Angeles" (2011) and "Terrorble Love" (2006), which all capture a dominant theme in his work, reclaiming Apache narratives and representation. 

“I always get this feeling from whoever's there, that I'm part of a family. It's interesting how the power [of] art and the power of printmaking and being part of that brings you into where you become part of the Self Help family,” said Miles about his experience at SHG. “The printers that they bring in, you know, whether it was José Alpuche or Oscar Durado or Dewey Tafoya, they've all been super supportive of myself as artists. They helped me to feel comfortable about the process.”

With all of Miles’ artistic mediums and activist practices, he is carrying on a legacy and a history of Apache art and survival. “I’d like to leave the same kind of legacy that Self Help Graphics & Art has. That I was an artist in the community, and I tried to help my community and tried to build up my community,” Miles began when asked about what legacy he would like to have. “By bringing art to the people, you can build the people. By building the people, you can build their pride. By building their pride, you can create happiness for them.”

You can watch The Mystery of Now online at themysteryofnow.com


Gabrielle Garcia is a Self Help Graphics & Art Getty Marrow Undergraduate Intern and recent graduate of Scripps College.

* Excerpt from themysteryofnow.com