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"Artmaking is not about how smart you are but rather about visualizing what you feel"

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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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Wednesday
Sep072016

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.

      

Wednesday
Aug312016

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

Monday
Aug292016

Millicent Rogers Museum

After our thorough exploration of the Blumenschein Home, we walked across the Taos Plaza to Doc Martin’s for lunch. Doc Martin’s is in the historic Taos Inn. We always enjoy the excellent food in the heart of Taos and often see celebrities lunching.

On Previous trips, we gallery hopped and shopped down Bent Street and Kit Carson Road. This trip we were committed to the history. So after our excellent lunch, we drive north to the Millicent Rogers Museum.

Millicent Rogers was a fashion icon and collector. Her youngest son built the museum for her collection after she died in 1953. She was well known before Taos but her Legacy was her inspiring taste and bringing Taos tri-cultural arts to widespread awareness.

Millicent Rogers came to Taos after an already adventurous life and a break up with Clark Gable. She had been offered a Legion of Honor by the French government for her relief work in WWII. In Taos, she championed the rights of the Native Indians of Taos Pueblos, and made a a bid to get Native American Art recognized as “historic,” so it would be protected. She worked with others to hire lawyers to go to Washington and lobby on the behalf of Taos Pueblos.

A thousand years of Southwestern arts and cultures are housed in the fourteen galleries of the Millicent Rogers Museum. We were totally enchanted by Native American jewelry, pottery, weavings, baskets as well as Hispanic folk art, blankets and Millicent’s own jewelry designs. We were especially impressed by the pottery. I have never seen pottery so well displayed. It was eye-opening. The quality of workmanship throughout the collection is incredible.

We ran into our buddy, Mary Karen, again. She was asking a museum curator a question and was on her way to Jan Sessler’s Studio. The staff is wonderful, knowledgeable, and welcoming. We thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon spent there. When you go, plan for a half day of absorbing the offering.

Then we were off to meet Kathleen Brennan and Kat Duff for a 5 Star Burger and get an update on Kathleen’s work. Wait till you hear this next entry! Old World Coffee on the way.

Home Library 

Thursday
Aug252016

Blumenschein Home on Ledoux

The first full day of our trip, we headed to Ledoux Street. 203 Fine Art is at the apex. We have stayed at their Casita and always enjoy seeing the work of Shaun Michel and Eric Andrews. they show Early Moderns to Contemporary. Then sadly, we walked by what was R.C. Gorman's Navajo Gallery. something terrible has befallen his Legacy. I don't have the gory details but a look into La Fonda's Lobby says it all.

Then down Ledoux, we stopped to see the Artist in Residence at Buck Dunton's Studio. Next we stepped back 100 years to a magical tour of the Blumenshein home.

In autumn of 1898, a broken wagon wheel resulted in Taos becoming a great American art colony. Young American artists Ernest L. Blumenschein and Bert G. Phillips were on a sketching trip from Denver to northern Mexico when the wheel of their wagon slipped into a deep rut and broke on the mountainous road just north of Taos.  Ernest Blumenschein made the twenty-mile trek to Taos with the broken wheel. The delay gave them time to become captivated by the landscape and cultures of the Taos Valley.  Blumenschein and Phillips spread the word about the beauty of Taos and urged other artists to come and see for themselves.  Many artists came and saw; some of them came and stayed.

Bert Phillips remained in Taos from that time forward.  Blumenschein returned to Taos often over the next two decades for short periods of sketching and painting when he was not studying and working in Paris. In Paris, he met and fell in love with Mary Shepherd Greene.  Mary had lived in France since 1886 where she had become a recognized artist, winning medals in the famous Paris Salon d'Automne in 1900 and 1902.

Blumenscheinreturned to  Taos every summer until 1919, when he and his wife, Mary Greene Blumenschein, purchased four rooms from a fellow member of the Taos Society of Artists, W. Herbert “Buck” Dunton.  Between 1919 and 1931, the Blumenscheins acquired several of the adjoining rooms and remodeled and adapted the home to its present layout. 

We totally enjoyed time in every room. Mary’s work was enchanting and photos of all the Society of Six and their families are so interesting. We noticed all week how resourceful the women were to raise families and make homes in these dirt floor, no runnung water, rough homes. Blumenshein was so competitive as an artist that he asked Mary to stop painting. She did for awhile and then resumed. There is a charming photo of Helen drawing while her mother painted. There are photos of all the families many whose descendants live in Taos today.

The home is furnished with the Blumenscheins’ original belongings and paintings. I loved standing in his studio as it had been. Some of the paintings by other members of the Taos Society of Artists and later artists were donated to the museum by members of the community as a tribute to the early years of the art colony. In 1962, Helen Greene Blumenschein gave the family’s home and furnishings as a gift to the community of Taos. The museum celebrates the lives and art of Ernest L. Blumenschein, Mary Shepherd Greene Blumenschein and their daughter Helen.  It also celebrates the formation of the Taos Society of Artists and Taos.

Read more and see photos at Two Graces Gallery blogspot. Robert Cafazzo is a terrific artist and historian in Taos now. He and his wife, Holly Seivers, are essential and generous community members. Visit Two Graces in Ranchos Plaza at the beginning of your trip to get good guidance about what's happening. We ended our trip there and walked away with our arms loaded with books.

Monday
Aug222016

Taos, New Mexico in my heart 

In 1975, Art and Betty Armantrout left Vail, Colorado to discover the next place they wanted to live. They traveled a large loop through the Southwest in their Ford station wagon pulling a pop-up camper. For six weeks, they camped near Tucson and studied silversmithing with a teacher. (Navajo and Zuni styles). Wrapping back up to Taos, New Mexico, they found the enchanting place that they wanted to settle. They bought a Yarn Store that was located on Bent Street where Lambert’s is now.  

Art built display cases for beautiful woolen yarns and for the jewelry. They made friends with the Goldsmith across the hall, Julian, and his then partner, Jo Carey. Ann and Boyd, the tatoo artist upstairs, and other locals. Eight weeks after they arrived, Art died unexpectedly from an abdominal aneurysm.

My valiant, creative mother, stayed in Taos and made a life for herself. Taos in the 70’s and early 80’s was the wild west and home to famous artists, and, not as famous, hippies. She ran the Yarn Store for a year and Julian, Jo, Ann, and Boyd and other friends made sure she didn’t stay home and feel desperate. She made friends with R.C. Gorman, Jim Wagner, and other artists. For awhile there was jazz at a club down Kit Carson Road. There was always a party at El Patio. She moved to town from Flo Zeigfeld’s dirt floor home off Ranchitos. Her apartment is now Inger Jirby’s east Casita, on Ledoux, a block from the Plaza and across from R.C. Gorman’s Navajo Gallery. Listen for the bells from Guadalupe Church.

I made many trips to Taos from Denver. On the second trip, I took mom’s cocker puppy, Tag, down. Betty made friends with many people in tri-cultural Taos. Some friends’ families spent generations in Taos. Barbara and Anne Brenner were especially good friends to her. After selling the Yarn Store, Betty became Director of the Taos Chamber of Commerce. That put her talents right to work. She was in the thick of it, as the Taos Fall Arts Festival began and flourished. I have many wonderful wild west stories and memories from those years, 1975-1981.

In 2013,  Cynthia and I reunited Betty and Art. We took Betty’s ashes back to Taos. As we sat having lunch on Bent Street, looking across at what had been their shop window, I became aware of time as an illusion, and knew their adventure would pick up where they left off. I am so grateful for a deep connection to Taos, New Mexico and it’s people.

 

Betty and Jim Wagner.