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Linda's Art Blog

This blog is for discussions on Art and Design in support of students, artists, and buyers of Art. It is a way to have some fun with my home studio and on-line students and anyone interested in Art History and current events. Comment on this blog as an opportunity to share recent shows and events and thoughts about your own art process.
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Chipeta, Ute Peacemaker and Leader

Some years back, a Meeker, Colorado client had inquired if I might paint a Ute Indian. In researching the history of the Utes, I read all I could find about Chipeta. My interest was heightened when I taught a workshop in Ridgway, Colorado and visited the Ute museum in Montrose. Chipeta and her brother Robert McCook are buried there. You can see Ute influences in the rock art and the people in my work (referencing "Connection to Ancestors" paintings.

Last Spring while preparing for the Sellars Project Space exhibition, NINE Colorado Artists, I made a painting of Chipeta, historic leader of the Utes. Wayne Iverson, Salida community activist, had begun a petition to move the name Chipeta Mountain, from a lower sub peak to the true 13,472-foot summit of the mountain. The Chipeta Mountain website will give you more information. If you agree, please sign the petition.

In support of Wayne’s petition, and to be in community with wonderful friends and colleagues in Salida, I donated the painting to be used to promote the renaming, in any form that Wayne and Jimmy Sellars thought useful. 

So here comes the part that touches me.  On October 8, 2016, Wayne was able to gift the painting to a great grand nephew of Chipeta at a reconciliation ceremony in San Miguel County. You can read more about the event on the Facebook Page Indigenous Peoples Day-San Miguel County. I am so grateful and feel honored that the gift was received by an ancestor of this incredible woman and peaceful leader of the Utes.



Ute Elders



Day 3 headed home from Taos

The next morning, we packed up the car and headed up to the Dunn Shops for gift shopping and to try to find Anne Brenner. We had tracked Anne down to her office behind her business Taos Rockers.

Anne and her mother, Barbara Brenner, were friends of my mothers. I wanted to just stop in and tip my hat . The Brenners are granddaughter and great granddaughter of Oscar E. Berninghaus of the Taos Society of Artists. You can read about how essential the work of the descendants of the founders has been to the celebration of Taos as an arts community. Barbara Brenner was a founding member of the Taos Arts Festival in the 70’s. Read more in the Taos News.

I mentioned in an earlier blog to always start your visit at Ranchos Church and Two Graces Gallery. Well we ended ours there. Where I always enjoy hearing what’s up from Robert Cafazzo, and he helped us choose the books that we brought home to keep our trip alive. Robert’s paintings and the paintings and drawings of Holly Seivers are great to see. The historic items he sells are a must see. We were looking for quick food, so he sent us to KoKo’s. Perfect. Then we headed to Sierra Vista Cemetery to visit my parents.  Next trip we plan for Taos Sheepskin Company and Taos Pueblo, and a coffee with the Brenners. We headed off across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.

We did a good job coming off the Salida Reception and soaking up the Taos history. I always leave Taos with a plan to return. Thanks to all the special people who make the visits special.


Mabel Dodge Luhan at the Harwood Museum

After learning all we could at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site we ran down Bent Street to have a quick lunch at the Deli. It was hard to pass by Ortenstone/DeLattre Gallery where we bought a wonderful piece 3 years ago. We were on a mission. After all, the trip was planned to see the Mabel Dodge Luhan Exhibition at the Harwood Museum, and we were scheduled to leave the next morning.  Just as we arrived at the Harwood, the rain started. Always good to have rain in New Mexico.

“Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company: American Moderns and the West is a traveling exhibition organized by the Harwood Museum of Art of the University of New Mexico that focuses on the life and times of one of the early 20th century’s most significant, yet under-recognized cultural figures: Mabel Dodge Luhan (1879–1962). 

Luhan brought modern art to northern New Mexico, putting Taos on the national and international maps of the avant-garde and creating a “Paris West” in the American Southwest. From 1918–1947, Luhan influenced legions of European and American “movers and shakers” to find in northern New Mexico’s physical and cultural landscapes new aesthetic, social, and cultural perspectives on modern life.

This exhibition will be the first to explore the impact Mabel Dodge Luhan had on the art, writings and activism of the 20th century American Modernism. D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, John Marin, John Collier, Marsden Hartley, Paul Strand and Andrew Dasburg—among scores of other luminaries—were summoned to Taos by Mabel and subsequently found, in the remote high desert, intellectual and spiritual inspiration for their work. The work of these artists will be presented in relation to Pueblo and Hispano artists to examine the cultural exchange that formed a unique ‘Southwest Modernism’.”

It was wonderful to see the paintings and to understand the adventurous life of Mabel Dodge Luhan. I learned more about all the players…D.H. Lawrence and Frieda, Dorothy Brett. We have a new understanding of how New Mexico became an international arts community. Now I have knowledge of the Taos Society of Artists, the Taos Modernists, and the Taos Seven that were active in the 70’s and 80’s and on.

We went back to Casita Pepper to dry off and drink coffee from Old World Coffee. Then we had a date to meet Kay and Tom Decker at the Taos Inn for drinks. Kay and Tom ran 2 successful galleries in Taos, Magic Mountain and Creative Expressions. Tom was a driving force behind the Taos Art Institute. The Deckers have been active community members in Taos since 1979. They add much to the texture of Taos. As our small world would have it, Kay and Tom are Aunt and Uncle to our neighbors …Karen, Gary, Lucy and Mimi Huitt. Since Kay and Tom have been in Taos since 1979, they knew my mother while she was Director of the Chamber of Commerce.

Cynthia and I thoroughly enjoyed our rich conversation with the Deckers. I loved hearing stories of the wild Taos of the 70’s and 80’s, and about current issues of concern to Taos. Also, it is so encouraging to hearof their success and what they know about selling art. They are both smart, creative, and humble.  What a great couple, who are living their dream. We look forward to continuing the conversation next trip. 

Then a soak in the hot tub and soup, and wondering, as we fell asleep, if we should have booked 4 nights.


Taos Day 2 -The Couse/Sharp Historic Site

I am so happy that on Day 2, we took the time to join a tour of the Couse-Sharp Historic Site. The generosity of Virginia and, the late, Ernie Leavitt welcomes artists and tourists to the home and amazing gardens that E.I. Couse and Virginia Walker Couse created. I spent years walking past the beautiful gate and never seeing behind. Just call for appointment and tour. volunteers study hard to give you lots of information.

To explore the studios of E. I. Couse and J. H. Sharp, founding members of the Taos Society of Artists is a delight. These two painters helped create the culture of Taos, as we know it today. The historic Site includes not only the home and studio of E.I. Couse, and the garden designed by his wife, Virginia, but we enjoyed the workshops of his son, Kibbey, and the two studios of his neighbor and fellow artist, Joseph Henry Sharp. The Site also reflects the contributions of a long history of previous owners.

When the Couses purchased the site in 1909, it had grown to seven rooms. The artist immediately added a large studio to the existing structure and his wife began to carve a garden into the barren hillside. Again I am amazed at the fortitude and creativity of the women who made homes for their families in the early Taos. 

Son, Kibbey, an inventor, returned to Taos to care for his widowed father in 1929. He converted the family garage into a machine shop and added another building to the south, where he planned to manufacture his invention, the Couse Mobile Machine Shop. With his father's death in 1936, his plans changed and he built his factory in New Jersey. No significant changes were made to the Site or its contents after that time. We so enjoyed the workshop. Both Cynthia’s Dad and my Dad had workshops and the smell of oil and grease brings back pleasant memories.

Just standing in the artists' studios felt other-worldly to me. To see how the artists kept reshaping their environments was so interesting. I loved seeing the objects that they included in the paintings.  J.H. Sharp purchased an old adobe house on the adjacent property in 1908.  He acquired the Luna chapel from the Diocese in Santa Fe, in 1909, and converted it into a studio.  He later purchased land to the south of his house on which he built a larger studio, in 1915.  See more at http://couse-sharp.org 

We hit the jackpot because the Summer, 2016 exhibition in the Luna Chapel was Visionaries in Clay Pueblo Pottery, Past and Present. We were primed from seeing the ceramics at Millicent Rogers Museum the previous day. “Visionaries in Clay features Native artists whose bold work helps to define our understanding of Native identity and cultural expression.”  The exhibition coupled Couse's historic pottery with the work of contemporary Native artists in northern New Mexico.  I have been so enamored of the work of Rose B. Simpson since I saw it at the DAM about five years ago. I was thrilled she was included with group of contemporary artists.

See a video about the exhibit http://couse-sharp.org/news

Then on our way out, we were so glad to meet Virginia Couse Leavitt, granddaughter of E.I . and Virginia Walker Couse. We got to thank her for her generosity and hard work.



Still the First Full Day in Taos!

So we are standing in front of 5 Star Burgers with Kathleen Brennan and Kat Duff, I hear my name called. It is Todd and Susannah Van Dyke, our artist friends from Louisville. They are celebrating their Anniversary in Taos, as they do every year. They are just back from rafting the Rio Grande. Hugs all around. Now we have seen 3 neighbors from home.

Kathleen, Kat, Cynthia, and I take a table outside. Kat is just off work from one of 3 jobs…all of which contribute to the health of the Taos community. Think neuro-feedback. Kathleen is an extraordinary artist who was working on a project about the drought when we visited 3 years ago. She also made a video for the Harwood Museum about the artists of the 1970s….see the et cetera at brennanstudio.com

What is she up to now? Kathleen and a colleague have created a documentary Before the Grid about Agnes Martin! From beforethegrid.org “Agnes Martin is one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Before she died in 2004 at the age of ninety-two her paintings sold for millions of dollars and were displayed in the world's greatest museums. Martin was respected and achieved the art world’s highest awards. She painted for twenty-three years, until she reached a style she was happy with in 1964. Her time in New York in the early sixties saw her create what are now called her grid paintings. Despite many interviews, very little was known about her life, particularly her life before 1958, the year of her first solo show in New York.

A documentary film, by Kathleen Brennan and Jina Brenneman, captures little known stories of  Agnes Martin’s life prior to 1967 when she left New York City. Shared by friends, lovers and classmates who knew her well, these oral history interviews give insight into Martin’s personality and the development of her creative process.  Release Date: Fall 2016.” 

 It was not only interesting to hear about the film and interviews but also to hear about the support and distribution. So stay tuned. That was only part of a rich and stimulating discussion. What a treat to grab some time with these busy people! Then back to Casita Pepper to rest our feet and read about Taos.

Agnes painting