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Red Willow: Portraits of a Town

February 9 - May 5, 2013 

 

"Taos derives from the native Taos language meaning
place of red willows."
 
-- Jonathan Warm Day

  

It may be the spirituality of the place and the mysterious attraction of the natural world that resonates so deeply within us. Artists are curious people, looking for that place that holds a creative challenge, intellectual stimulation and adventure. Maybe it's the rich mix of cultures, maybe it's the natural beauty, maybe it's the legacy of an important art colony, or maybe it's just the people. Taos has all of these things, but perhaps most importantly, Taos opens creative and intellectual doors to new vocabularies in a wild environment. This exhibition features the portraits of some of these larger than life, small-town characters. (right: Emil Bisttram, Portrait of Bing Abbott, 1932, oil on canvas. Collection the Harwood Museum of Art)

In preparing for this exhibit, we posed this question to visitors: Who are your favorite Taos characters? What are your favorite Taoseño stories? Some of the same old stories were retold and some new characters emerged. Teotho (El Saca), Po'pay and the 1860 Great Pueblo Revolt, the broken wagon wheel, the Mabel Dodge Lujan house, Taos Valley Art School and the FBI informant, Copper Canyon trips with Dorothy Brett and the Moderns, Hopper in the plaza sans pants and with rifle, Wagner and the prison foundry, Spud Johnson and the Horsefly, the three witches from Des Montes, R.C. Gorman's red bandana, Governor Bent and Kit Carson, Larry Bell's dog Pinky, Agnes Martins big car, Arthur Manby's head, Peter Rabbit and the Poetry Circus, Patrociño Barela, Hippies, communes and skinny dipping at the John Dunn hot springs, Huevo Dave, Kim and the Caballeros, Bone Orchard, the trails under the plaza, and Old Martina's Hall. The list goes on.

The list of those who have spent time and created here reads like a Who's Who of 20th Century Art, and no other American town its size has fostered more world-renowned artists than Taos. Since the art colony was officially established in the early 20th century, there have been three major epochs of world-class creativity, "and unlike Santa Fe, where the selling of art often trumps the making of it, here the creative spirit moves far beyond what might be considered commercial. In Taos, like-minded seekers of truth and beauty find a sense of freedom and exhilaration in their artistic expression. Writers, painters, photographers, actors, sculptors, jewelers, fiber artists and others working in a host of mediums are drawn here to create and exhibit their work and explore alternative lifestyles. And as the legend goes, if Taos Mountain calls you here to make art, there is little you can do to resist

The first epoch, the Taos Society of Artists, prominent until the 1930s, had as its members some 15 artists who included Joseph H. Sharp, Bert G. Phillips, E. Irving Couse, W.H. Dunton, Oscar Berninghaus, E.L. Blumenschein, Kenneth M. Adams, Victor Higgins, E. Martin Hennings, Catharine C. Critchen and Walter Ufer.

The second important wave arrived after World War II and were known as the Taos Moderns, a group of cutting-edge artists including Patrociño Barela, Andrew Dasburg, Thomas Benrimo, Louis Ribak, Beatrice Mandelman, Agnes Martin and many others. Ad Rheinhardt, Richard Diebenkorn and others visited.

The most recent epoch began in the late sixties with the arrival of Dennis Hopper and his friends Larry Bell, Ken Price, Ronald Davis, Ron Cooper and others who had been part of the LA art scene. And today, the beat goes on with contemporary stars branching into new mediums such as robotics, aerial dance and new media.

Historically, writers have also been drawn to this creative vortex: the likes of D. H. Lawrence, Willa Cather and Carl Jung,  Edward Abbey and Robert Creeley. In 1971, Ram Dass wrote his seminal "Be Here Now" while living at the Lama Foundation in San Cristobal; Julia Cameron wrote "The Artist's Way" while living in Taos; and our most celebrated contemporary novelist, John Nichols, author of "The Milagro Beanfield War" and "The Sterile Cuckoo" still lives and works in Taos. -- Andrew Flack, Buzz Inc.

Taos artists have long depicted some of the Town's favorite and notorious characters. Selections from the Harwood permanent collection, as well as works on loan from area collectors, will be on view in the Mandelman -Ribak Gallery. Oral histories will be shown on three flat screens in the Bob Ellis and Caroline Lee Gallery. Featured installations highlighting contemporary artist from the three predominant cultures in Taos and will also be on display throughout the Museum. This series of exhibitions is intended to celebrate the wealth of cultural diversity that has dwelt in this enormous, small town for the past 15 generations.  

-- Jina Brenneman, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions

 

Red Willow: Portraits of a Town

Mandelman - Ribak Gallery

February 9 - May 5, 2013

The Tiwa (or Tano) are a linguistic group of Pueblo American Indians who speak the Tiwa language and share the Pueblo culture. Tiwa (also known as Tano) is one of five Tanoan languages spoken by the Pueblo people of New Mexico. The name Taos is derived from the Tiwa word for "place of red willows". The Red Willow is a variety know for its reddish or purple twigs and bark rich in tannin. It is also known as the basket willow, having pliable twigs used in basketry and furniture. See <nmhistoricpreservation.org>.

Red Willow: Portraits of a Town is a portrait exhibition made up of the many compelling historic and contemporary members of the Taos, New Mexico community. Artists from around the world have visited Taos to capture the iconic and exotic faces of the people. "The People" include the people from the oldest community in the Nation -- The Tiwa people from the Taos Pueblo. The Hispanic and Anglo populations that have now become  the largest have made this a tri-cultural and tri-lingual community. The material for portraiture was, and is, plentiful. Many from Taos Pueblo have sat for portraits, including Eva Mirabal Gomez.  Joseph Imhof, who influenced the young artist, would often sketch the Pueblo people. The exhibit includes a lithograph portrait of Eva created by Imhof. The piece was gifted to the Museum by Lucy Case Harwood, whose ca. 1890 oil portrait is installed nearby.

In 1932, Taos Modernist Emil Bisttram painted a portrait of agriculturalist and cowboy, Bing Abbott. Although done in 1932, the portrait appears to be an ultra contemporary, slick rendition of a questionable character, holding within it a powerful affectation. A self-portrait of Taos icon Jim Wagner proclaims this contemporary artist's place in the chronicles of this town. Accompanying this exhibit are the narratives of these subjects' lives. They tell a rich story that weaves their lives together as a family, in a way that only a small community could.

-- Jina Brenneman, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions

 

Red Willow: Portraits of a Town

The Mandelman - Ribak Oral History Project

February 9 - May 5, 2013

Bob Ellis and Caroline Lee Gallery

The Oral History Project originated in 1999 in collaboration with Douglas Dreishpoon, Chief Curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York.

The Project's initial concept called for a series of video-taped interviews with individuals who had been associated with the Taos Moderns, a group of artists living in Taos during the 1940s and 1950s that included Beatrice Mandelman and Louis Ribak. In June of 2000, eight interviews were conducted with artists and individuals who had been associated with the Taos Moderns.

As the Oral History Project evolved, the objective for the interviews broadened to encompass subsequent generations, the influx of artists and writers who came to Taos in the 1960s and 1970s, and other individuals who had contributed to the culture and arts in Taos.

To date, the Project has recorded 44 interviews, all of which have been transcribed. Each interview runs about an hour in length and develops around a set of questions researched and conducted by Douglas Dreishpoon. The interview materials of the Oral History Project constitute elements of an oral history archive for Taos and an invaluable resource for scholars and researchers.

In 2011, The Mandelman-Ribak Foundation and Douglas Dreishpoon began collaboration on a film project derived from footage of 16 women interviewed as part of the Oral History Project. Edited by Oliver Bell, a preliminary version of the film was presented at The Harwood Museum of Art in Taos in August 2012. The film is currently in development. See <mandelman-ribak.org>.

The Ellis - Lee Gallery recently installed three new media flat screens to be used for educational and art displays. The spring of 2013 marks the first opportunity to use this new technology to exhibit the historic interviews thoughtfully created by the Mandelman - Ribak Foundation. Each interview will be looped with several others and shown on each screen.

Each screen will host four interviews. A total of 16 interviews will be available to view. Each related to the work in the adjoining gallery. A partial list of interviewees include; Larry Bell, Malcolm Brown, Ron Cooper, John DePuy, Ted Egri, Rosa Ellis Clark, Dennis Hopper, Paul O'Connor, Robert Ray, Mildred Tolbert, Jenny Vincent, and Jim Wagner.

 

Checklist for the exhibition

 
Artist Unknown
Portrait of Lucy Case Harwood, ca. 1890
oil on canvas
Collection of the Harwood Museum of Art
Gift of Lucy Case Harwood
 
Adriaan J. Barnouw (1877 -1968)
Portrait of Andrew Dasburg, 1947
oil
Collection of the Harwood Museum of Art
Gift of Elsa Barnouw
 
Emil Bisttram (1895-1976)
Portrait of Bing Abbott, 1932
oil on canvas
Collection of the Harwood Museum of Art
Gift of the Artist
 
Van Deren Coke (1921-2004)
Bill Davis, Taos Photographer, 1995
cibachrome
Collection of the Harwood Museum of Art
Gift of Van Deren and Joan Coke
 
Howard Cook (1901-1980)
Portrait of B, 1928
etching
Collection of the Harwood Museum of Art
Gift of C. William and Eleanor Reiquam
 
Howard Cook (1901-1980)
Self-Portrait, 1967
mixed media, watercolor
Collection of the Harwood Museum of Art
Gift of the Estate of Milton C. Nahm
 
Ted Egri (1913 -2010)
Portrait of Patroci_o Barela, ca. 1963
watercolor
Collection of the Harwood Museum of Art
Gift of the Artist
 
Nicholai Fechin (1881-1955)
Portrait, n.d.
charcoal
Collection of the Harwood Museum of Art
Gift of Eya Fechin
 
Burt Harwood (1857-1922)
The Apache
oil
Collection of the Harwood Museum of Art
Gift of Lucy Case Harwood
 
Burt Harwood (1857-1922)
Self Portrait, n.d.
oil
Collection of the Harwood Museum of Art
Gift of Lucy Case Harwood
 
Lucy Case Harwood
Brittany Girl in Lace Cap, n.d.
charcoal and pastels
Collection of the Harwood Museum of Art
 
Louis Ribak (1902-1979)
Portrait of Eulalia, 1957
oil on canvas
Collection of the Harwood Museum of Art
Gift of the Mandelman-Ribak Foundation
 
Julian Robles (b. 1933)
Portrait of Shirley Stark, 1970
charcoal
Collection of the Harwood Museum of Art
Gift of Shirley Stark
 
Walter Ufer (1876-1936)
Portrait of Mary Ufer, 1913
oil
Collection of the Harwood Museum of Art
Gift of Mrs. Lewis E. Wise
 
Joseph Fleck (1892-1977)
Do_a Teresa of Taos, ca. 1920Åfs
oil on canvas
Private Collection
 
Mary Chilton Gray Medenhall (1888 -1969)
Untitled, 1930
oil on canvas
Private Collection
 
Laura Gilpin (1891-1979)
Untitled (John Young- Hunter on fence, smoking), ca. 1940Åfs
black and white photograph
Private Collection
 
William Penhallow Henderson (1877-1943)
Portrait of a Cowboy, n.d.
oil on canvas
Private Collection
 
Jim Wagner (b. 1941)
Headful of Color (Self Portrait), 2010
oil on canvas
Private Collection
 
Benito Trujillo
Bitch Cassidy, 2011
oil on Masonite
Courtesy of the Artist
 
Leslie Brown
The Man in a Green Hat (Portrait of Raymond DePuy), ca. 1960s
acrylic on Masonite
Collection of John and Isabel DePuy
 
Jack Smith (b. 1950)
Portrait of John Gimblet, 2012
oil on copper
Courtesy of John Gimblet
 
J. E. Johnson
Portrait of Susan Streeper, 1968
oil on canvas
Collection of Charles Streeper
 
Henry C. Balink (1882-1963)
Tony One Horse - Tesuque, n.d.
oil on canvas
Collection Robert and Sherry Parsons
 
Helen Greene Blumencschein (1909-1989)
Self Portrait, 1939
oil on canvas
Collection of Robert and Sherry Parsons
 
Kathleen Brennan
Kiss My Ass (in memory of Sarafina), 2006
color photograph
Courtesy of the Artist
 
Nicolai Ivanovich Fechin (1881-1955)
Untitled Portrait, ca. 1928
oil on canvas
Collection of Robert and Sherry Parsons
 
B.J.O. Nordfeldt (1878-1955)
Untitled (D.H. Lawrence and the Three Muses), n.d.
oil on canvas
Collection of Robert and Sherry Parsons
 
Ila McAfee (1897-1995)
Portrait Miniatures (4 works), ca. 1935
oil on board
Collection of Robert and Sherry Parsons
 
Ila McAfee (1897-1995)
Portrait Miniatures (2 works), ca. 1935
oil on board
Private Collection
 
Giovanna Paponetti
Taos Shepherd and Newborn (Jose Romero), 2001
oil on linen
Collection of Francisco Romero
 
Giovanna Paponetti
Citizen of the Year, 2004, Tony Reyna, 2004
oil on linen
Collection of Tony Reyna
 
Louis Ribak (1902-1979)
Florencia and Martita, ca. 1945
oil on canvas board
Collection of Robert and Sherry Parsons
 
Anvar Saifoutdinov ( b. 1963)
Portrait of Jonathan Warm Day Coming, 1992
oil on canvas
Collection of Jonathan Warm Day Coming
 
John Young-Hunter (1874 -1955)
Untitled (Society portrait of Nancy Lane), 1925
oil on canvas
Private Collection
 
Mary Ufer (1869-1947)
Untitled (Portrait of a Taos Pueblo Woman), ca. 1930
oil on canvas
Courtesy of Catherine Gramatzki and Enika Anderson-Young
 
Mary Ufer (1869-1947)
Alice in the Big Chair, n.d.
oil on canvas
Courtesy of Catherine Gramatzki and Enika Anderson-Young
 
Walter Ufer (1869-1947)
Portrait of a Young Woman (Mary Ufer), 1911
oil on canvas
Courtesy of Catherine Gramatzki and Enika Anderson-Young
 
Walter Ufer (1876-1936)
Old Woman of Tirol, 1912
oil on canvas
Courtesy of Catherine Gramatzki and Enika Anderson-Young

 

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