Editor's note: The following texts were published on October 25, 2013 in Resource Library with permission of the Harwood Museum of Art. If you have questions or comments regarding the texts or accompanying images, please contact the Harwood Museum of Art directly through either this phone number or web address:



 

Burt and Lucy at Home: Featuring the Paintings of Burt Harwood

Elihu Burritt (Burt)  Harwood (November 26 1855 - September 12, 1922)

Lucy Case (Elizabeth) Harwood (1867 - December 11, 1938)

September 21, 2013 - January 26, 2014 

 

"You cannot not know history"
 
- Philip Johnson 

 

What will you leave behind when you die? Perhaps an aquatint, or scrapbooks and photographs, a glorious historic legacy; possibly debt. My grandmother left a two-dollar dressing table, part of her marriage dowry. Artists Tom and Dorothy Benrimo left their own artwork as well as archival documents including passports, elementary school graduation certificates, birth certificates and personal correspondence. Some endow family trusts to care for their family for generations. A Harwood Board Governor has bequeathed a remarkable collection of works by contemporary artists working in Northern New Mexico. Many wish to shed this mortal coil without a trace. But if we do consider our legacy then we choose to care how the world will remember us. Elizabeth (Lucy) Case Harwood chose well. She left behind a cultural institution that would change lives and inspire generations of visitors who experience it.

This series of exhibitions has been designed to honor the cultural legacy of Lucy and Burt Harwood. Over the past year, the curatorial department at The Harwood Museum of Art has taken time to reflect: time spent in the archives of the Harwood Museum, the UNM Art Museum, and the Smithsonian Archives of American Art has led to several common themes: Legacy, Preservation and Research.

Folklore anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston wrote, "Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose". The research efforts of the curatorial staff resulted in a thorough chronology, dispelled myths, and assembled new photo documentation of the Harwoods' lives. The following text was a happy collaboration compiled from investigations by three insatiably curious researchers: David L. Witt, Elizabeth Cunningham and Dr. Richard Tobin.

The 90th-anniversary celebration marks the year (1923) that Elizabeth Case Harwood (Lucy) incorporated the Harwood Foundation, once known as "El Pueblito, that she and Burt had developed into an art salon, studio and lodging house. When the property was actually turned over to the University in January 1936, the deed of conveyance specified that "said property shall remain the property of the University of New Mexico in perpetuity and shall be kept intact in Taos, N.M., by the University and utilized as an educational, cultural, and art center in connection with the University."

The original structure c. 1813 belonged to Ms. Rosa Trujillo. In 1861, long before Taos was an artist's colony, the property was purchased by Captain Smith H. (J.) Simpson. Simpson, a dashing, literate and affluent New Yorker, who served as Kit Carson's clerk (Carson was practically illiterate) was the son of a commission merchant and grandson of a revolutionary who fought in the Battle of Trenton. In 1888, Captain Smith Simpson purchased the surrounding land -- where the Harwoods' library would stand -- from John Gabino Martinez. In 1916, Burt and Lucy purchased the building from Captain Simpson, by now the father of six children with his wife, Josefita Valdez. Among his children, Maggie would become Mrs. Albert Gusdorf and Stefania, Mrs. Ben Randall, and his oldest daughter, Anna. S. Clouthier would sell the property to B.E. Harwood in 1916/17, and subsequent purchases in 1917 and 1918 from Jose Montaner formed the current boundaries of the property.

Drawing upon local adobe construction techniques, the Harwoods remodeled El Pueblito to become one of the earliest examples of Pueblo/Spanish Revival, or Santa Fe Style, the New Mexico architectural synthesis dating from c. 1916 and modeled on the Spanish colonial mission churches of Acoma and Isleta and the two adobe ensemble buildings of Taos Pueblo.

Upon Burt's death in 1922, Lucy found encouragement and support from friends Bert G. Phillips, T.P. Martin, Victor Higgins, William M. Frayer and B.G. Randall, for the creation of a foundation, comprising of " a library, art gallery and museum, a place where local craftsmen could exhibit their work," according to the original articles of incorporation. The Harwood Foundation would evolve over time to become one of the most important historic and cultural institutions in the state of New Mexico.

 

ELIZABETH (LUCY) CASE HARWOOD  (1867 - 1938)

I have always thought of the Harwood as a sort of nest, a safe place, a sweet refuge
- John Nichols

A nest, a safe place, a sweet refuge; words used to describe The Harwood Library also seem to capture Lucy Harwood's benevolent nature. Settling in Taos would not have had any similarity to moving to and making a home in Charles City, Iowa, where Elizabeth (Lucy) Case was born in 1867. In Taos the white picket fence gives way to the kiva ladder, and wide smooth roads and automobiles to wagons and rutted dirt roads. There was a reason that Lucy and her husband Burt, returning from wartime Paris in 1916, chose Taos over Charles City.

The youngest daughter of Almon G. Case and Elizabeth Squires, Lucy was born into a wealthy Iowa family. Her lawyer/banker father was an adventurer and wanted the same for his daughter. Lucy, the 'apple of her daddy's eye', was taken to Mexico on a self-guided tour. This was rare for many reasons. Mexico was dangerous, unchartered territory. Lucy was a girl and her companion father would have been in his late 60's. The taste for adventure was born.

The young Lucy's openness to adventure was encouraged by her education at Vassar College. Founded in 1861 as a women's college (the second of the Seven Sisters colleges), Vassar's feminist underpinnings in the 1880s were evident, if not overt. Its women students and graduates were introduced to the potential power educated women could wield for social and political change. Some graduates played roles in causes which furthered women's rights while others contributed in less direct ways, through careers in social work, education, politics and journalism. As the author of Origins of Vassar College wrote:

Colleges for our own sex... Are centers of tremendous intellectual and moral power....They train the leading minds of the nation, and form our legislators, statesmen and orators. But all argument in favor of Colleges for young men are equally in favor of similar institutions for young women. Although these are not to be lawyers, legislators, and statesmen, or, if never wives and mothers, thousands of them must be the Teachers of our future public men ( Milo P. Jewett, Origins of Vassar College, unpublished manuscript, Milo Parker Jewett Papers, Archives and Special Collections Library, Vassar College Libraries).

Lucy was encouraged to be an independent and brave woman, yet in keeping with the times, family expectations, and Vassar influences, she was also bred to exemplify the qualities of a late nineteenth century woman: to be a dutiful daughter, prudent wife and ornament to society. Lucy's next venture took her to Minneapolis where she studied with a handsome photographer named Burt Harwood, at his Academy of Drawing and Painting. They married in late September of 1896. In Lucy, Burt had found a fellow wanderer. Their honeymoon in Paris would extend to a stay of twenty years.

Burt and Lucy spent most of their married life living in Paris and in Brittany. During her years in Paris, Lucy's father drew up a will and testament (1905) in which Lucy and her two siblings were named as a major benefactors.[2] . Lucy would go on to lead an expatriate lifestyle. In Paris, she studied with James McNeill Whistler and spent summers with Burt painting in Brittany. They returned to the United States briefly (1901 -1903), to Minneapolis, but returned again to Paris. It was their home. When World War I broke out, the Harwood's not only stayed, but set up and maintained a hospital for war victims. They remained in Paris through the First Battle of the Marne (September, 1914), when French and British forces confronted the German army deep within the borders of France and southeast of Paris itself. The Harwoods finally left Paris in 1916 with the approaching entry of the United States into the war (April 1917). They moved to New Mexico and settled in Taos. The area's inspirational landscape made it an ideal art location, as Joseph Henry Sharp discovered during a stay in Taos in 1893. In Paris the following year (1894) Sharp shared his discovery with Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Geer Phillips at some point in his two-year stay.

Burt, who returned to Paris with Lucy in late 1896, could well have learned of Taos at that time -- two decades before their decision to move to Taos after leaving France in 1916, either directly from Sharp and/or Blumenschein prior to the return of both artists to the U.S. in 1896, or indirectly from American students at the Academie Julian, just recently attended by both Blumenschein (1894-96) and Phillips (1894). The Académie Julian hosted many expatriate artists who later came to live in Taos, not unlike the Black Mountain College group (but that is another story).

In Taos, Lucy was known as Elizabeth. The nickname she adopted with her family was Aunt Dude (pronounced 'dudie'). Virginia (Ginnie) Couse Leavitt, granddaughter of E. I. Couse, recounts that, " Elizabeth was my mother's (Lucille Couse) best friend; she named one of her daughters Elizabeth, after Elizabeth Harwood. She was my mother away from home." The Harwood home, El Pueblito, became a destination for artists, a focus less famous than the salon of Mabel Dodge Luhan, but equally important.

Georgia O'Keeffe and Rebecca Salsbury James, lodged together at the Harwood home on two occasions. The Blumenschein's, Howard Cook and Barbara Latham, Emil Bisttrram -- the list of lodgers at the Harwood home is a Who's who of Taos Artists. They welcomed anyone in the arts into their circle of friends. Until 2010 the Harwood Museum kept this tradition alive by hosting live-in residencies. The list of who stayed at El Pueblito includes artist, writers, composers, and poets. Price, Paul Elwood, Celmins, Linda Benglis, Risk Hazekamp are listed among more contemporary guests.

Like many other women artists of the time, Lucy was not recognized for her artistic gifts. That said, several of the paintings in the Harwood collection signed E. Harwood have been determined to be early works of Burt Harwood, painted when he was signing the canvases using his, given name of Elihu.

Elizabeth Harwood died in 1937, shortly before the Carnegie Corporation awarded a $4,000 Survey Grant for Adult Education to the Harwood, giving the Foundation a greater role in the life of the Taos community. The plan that developed with these funds was an idealistic venture called The Taos County Project, which coordinated the resources of fifty-three public and private agencies to meet the needs of the county. Two books were written on the project: Forgotten People, by Dr. George I. Sanchez, and It Happened in Taos, by Dr. J.T. Reid. The Taos Project also established two craft shops -- one for furniture making and one for textile arts. After World War II, Taos and the Harwood entered a new phase of their artistic history with the influx of established artists from the East and West Coasts. These artists were influenced by the European and American avant-garde, and many would eventually be recognized for their roles in the development of American Modernism.

Author-editor Elaine A. Cannon once observed that "There are two important days in a woman's life: the day she was born, and the day she finds out why". Elizabeth (Lucy) Case Harwood found her answer. She is a vigorous reminder of the remarkable women from an earlier time. Her life was a testament to adventure, education and philanthropy.

 

ELIHU BURRITT HARWOOD  (1855 - 1922)

Remember me as you pass by/ As you are now, so once was I./ As I am now, you soon will be./Prepare for death, and think of me
- headstone epitaph

On August 8, 1998, the Associated Press reported a bizarre story about the discovery of an artist's urn at a recycling center in Taos. The story went virtually unnoticed, but it was picked up by a local newspaper in Lubbock, Texas:

Artist's Ashes Found, Swapped, Turned Over
 
A supermarket security guard found the ashes of a Taos, N.M., artist at a recycling center, swapped a coin collection for them, then donated them to the museum that bears the artist's name. A copper box apparently containing Elihu Burritt Harwood's remains was turned over to the Harwood Museum last week.. Burt came back. He's in my office even now,'' museum curator David Witt said Friday during a telephone interview. ''I always wondered what had happened to him.''
Luis Maestas of Taos spotted the box, which has Harwood's name on it, a few weeks ago during a trip to a Taos recycling center that buys scrap metal. When the box was still there last week, Maestas, a collector of "everything", offered to trade a small coin collection for it that he had picked up at a garage sale. "I think (the box) was being turned into a piggy bank,'' said Maestas, "because someone had recently cut a coin-sized hole in it". Maestas took it home, shook the box, and ashes drifted out.
 
''So I put some holy water in there and decided to take the urn to the museum," he said. At first he intended to sell it, then quickly changed his mind, he said. "They were part of history. That's why I took them over there,'' Maestas said. Lubbock-Avalanche News, August 08, 1998
 

"They were a part of history." This comment by Luis Maestas aptly captures the feeling of the people of Taos for their cultural history. On a larger plane, the story speaks to the critical role of a museum in preserving for cultural history what would otherwise be lost (or recycled).

Elihu Burritt (Burt) Harwood (1855-1922), the son of  Sanford and Kezia Dryer, was to play a major influence in the fledgling art community and cultural history of Taos, New Mexico. Burt's father Sanford was apprenticed to learn the trade of a saddler. By the end of his life (died February 1896), having moved west and settled in Charles City, Iowa in 1850, Sanford Harwood had amassed thousands of acres of prime farmland in Iowa. He very likely owned real estate in St. Paul and Minneapolis, where he journeyed, " in search of lands" in 1853, when both were villages of 200 and 100 inhabitants, respectively, and where his son Burt would later establish an Academy of Art and Design in each city. Sanford and his wife Kezia had six children, of whom three lived to adulthood, Burt and two siblings one becoming a publisher, the other a homemaker. Burt Harwood's life to 1910 is chronicled in a volume of the Harwood genealogy by kinsman Watson H. Harwood, M.D. published in 1911 and financed by Burt himself.

The genealogy record for Elihu Burritt Harwood states that after high school Harwood adopted art as a profession. He enrolled in the Chicago Academy of Design in 1873 (age 18). The genealogy's cryptic statement that Harwoods "later engaged in business" after his study at the Chicago Academy of Design refers to his work as a photographer between 1873 and 1882, by which time he was senior partner of Harwood and Mooney, Photography, in Charles City, Iowa [El Crepusculo]. The Floyd County, Iowa Archives states that Harwood & Mooney, Photography "is one of the city's enterprising young firms. Though both are young men, they do some of the finest work in their line in the State." 

In 1882 Harwoord enrolled in the Art Students League in New York City in 1882 (age 27), then in the Academie Julian in Paris in 1884 (1884-1887) where he studied under Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefebvre as well as under Amie Morot and Raphael Collin, with several months also under the sculptor Mercier. He returned to the United States in 1887 to set up the academies of art and design in St. Paul (1888) and Minneapolis (1889), where he met and married Elizabeth (Lucy) Case in September of 1896. Shortly after, he returned with Lucy to Paris, "where they have since made their residence" (1910). The record notes that on his return to Paris, "he renewed his study under Benjamin Constant and J.P. Laurens," both instructors at the Academie Julian. A 1955 article on the Harwood Foundation in El Crepusculo, a Taos weekly, describes the lifestyle of Burt and Lucy in Paris from 1896 to the end of 1916:

Travel over continent, lazy days in summer sun, winter sports, residences in both Paris and Brittany where artist-photographer Harwood took masterful pictures of every phase of life: weddings, funerals, festivals, customs, exhibits of paintings in Paris -- this was the pleasant pattern of the Harwoods' life until the threat, and later the actuality of World War I turned them to more serious pursuits, and later to seek a new home. (El Crepusculo, November 3, 1955) 

One such pursuit was Burt's role as a donor in the French Red Cross program that channeled financial support to French soldiers who were prisoners of war in Germany, from 1915 to well after war's end in 1918. Another was the Harwoods' support of a hospital in Pontivy, Brittany for wounded soldiers "until the declaration of war by the U.S. [April 1917] at which time they thought it wise to return home" ( El Crepusculo, Nov 3, 1955). The inherited wealth of Burt Harwood enabled him to set up the art academies in Minneapolis and St. Paul. His inheritance, and that of Lucy provided both with the opportunity to travel, study art abroad, and the ability to finance the hospital in Brittany, and the means to purchase El Pueblito in Taos upon their return to the United States and their move to New Mexico in1916. The property that the Harwoods purchased from Captain Simpson's oldest daughter, along with surrounding lands purchased subsequently, became their home, a salon of sorts for local artist, and, upon Burt's death, the Harwood Foundation. Its public name was changed in the 1990s to The Harwood Museum of Art.

Yet despite the Harwood hospitality and, more compelling, Burt's credentials as a photographer/artist and his training in Paris, during which time he exhibited in the salon of the Société des Artistes Français, Burt Harwood was rejected for membership in the Taos Society of Artists, despite his nomination by Bert Phillips. But apparently the rejection did nothing to slow his creative urges. Harwood continued to paint at the same time as he "directed the remodeling of the El Pueblito compound, in keeping with local construction techniques".

With his architect Abe Bowring, Burt Harwood connected the structures and added a second story, thus making the first two-story building in Taos apart from the community structures at Taos Pueblo. The Harwood compound was reputedly the first residence in Taos to have electricity, and one of the largest until Mabel Dodge Luhan built hers. The Harwoods opened their newly renovated home as a kind of social center, or Southwest style salon, with informal or semi-formal discussions, lectures and art exhibitions. (The Blumenscheins, would move in down the street a few years later, and that residence is now the Blumenschein Museum.)

If Downton Abbey, or the Cazalets were set in America, the casting of Burt Harwood as family patriarch would make a convincing choice. One surviving photograph captures the image of a suave, self-possessed young gentleman, handsome and decked in a raccoon fur with a jaunty hat, senior partner in a very successful photographic studio by age 25. Another shows the young Harwood a few years later, now an aspiring art student in the Académie Julian in Paris. Other photographs record his young bride Lucy Case, their life in Paris and Brittany, his fellow expatriates. In Taos, we see a mature man, burdened with ill health in the last years of his life.

An article in the September 26, 1922 issue of The Taos Valley News stated that his death on the previous September 12th was due to heart failure, noting that he suffered from pleurisy. It is likely then that Burt Harwood died as a result of pulmonary heart disease, a complication of the disease.

Current Harwood Museum Fellow James Kent observed that "Burt Harwood's own photographs capture the mystique of a heritage by now almost unknown to us. Yet, the old-time aesthetic of his nearly century-old prints and negatives eloquently mark the passing of an age, and thus the great gap that separates that culture from our own times." If it was the task of Burt Harwood's photography to record that culture, it has become the role of Burt and Lucy's museum and collections to preserve it as a living legacy.

- Jina Brenneman, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions

 


 

The Libary: (1937-mid 1990s)

The Harwood Library was a Taos treasure for over sixty years. Many residents and visitors cherish memories of this centerpiece of the Harwood's history. With its Spanish Pueblo Revival architecture, the Library's rooms were a blend of wood floors, Spanish Colonial style furnishings and hammered tin ornaments, its spare adobe spaces textured by the quiet tread of patrons on creaking plank floors and suffused with a fragrant scent of vanilla released from the pages of the old books.

The Harwoods had an extensive private collection of books in their residence on Ledoux Street, a property comprising several small adobe structures that they had purchased in late 1916 and that Burt began to remodel the following year. He used local adobe construction techniques in keeping with what would become known as Spanish Pueblo or Pueblo Revival architecture, a conscious recourse to adobe structures blending stylistic features from Pueblo and Spanish Colonial missions. The Harwood property, known early on as "El Pueblito" would be deeded to the University of New Mexico by Lucy Harwood in 1935, "designated and maintained in perpetuity under the name and style, 'The Harwood Foundation of the University of New Mexico'. to be utilized as an educational, cultural and art center in connection with the work of the University" (Deed of Conveyance, 1935). The property underwent a major expansion and renovation in 1937 as a joint UNM-WPA project, designed by the architect John Gaw Meem in the Pueblo Revival Style, more familiar to the public as the Santa Fe Style.

Earlier, in 1923, Lucy Harwood formally converted their property on Ledoux Street to the Harwood Foundation following the death of Burt in 1922. The Foundation was to serve as a cultural center for the community, with a library having a leading role. By 1926 she had made their private collection of books available to the community. Mabel Dodge Luhan donated books from her own collection, and along with others contributed funds and inspired support. Luhan made sure that the library had both bestsellers and classics, and her gifts comprise much of its special collections. With its makeshift public library in which books from their personal collection were made available to the Taos community from the porch of their Ledoux residence, the Harwood residence became a meeting place for artists and townspeople.

A formal lending library was established. "The lending library continued to grow through donations. A fee was charged to become a member of the foundation, but no one was ever denied use of the library. Community members began to contribute local art and artifacts to the foundation, as well as books". - Journal of Libraries and the Cultural Record

Former Harwood curator of exhibitions David Witt notes how the Harwood described its activities on its official stationary as "Art, History, Library."

The first librarian for the library, now in its new wing built under the 1937 WPA renovation, was Mr. Albert Gee, who had been hired by Lucy Harwood just prior to her death in 1938. The Taos Library website's History page brings the story to the present:

By this time [1937], the Harwood housed a public library, an art gallery and museum, and a community hall, none of which existed elsewhere in Taos. In the 1940s the Taos County Project was initiated through the Carnegie Foundation, which brought a bookmobile that was active into the 1950s and operated out of the Harwood.

Later Librarians included Willard "Spud" Johnson, who was a writer of note and publisher of "The Horse Fly", the "World's Smallest and Most Inadequate Newspaper". Mrs. Toni Tarleton, a former Harvey Girl, succeeded Johnson and, for many years, was the sole employee in the library. In the 70s the Harwood Foundation became a National Historic Place and became eligible for grant monies and extensive renovation began.

The Town of Taos took over the management of the Library [while still in its original location on Ledoux Street]. In 1993 the Town of Taos, the Friends of the Harwood Public Library and other community organizations began raising money to build a new library building. The Town of Taos contributed property it owned behind Town Hall and refinanced existing bonds to create major funds for the library. The Friends group raised an additional $300,000. Construction of the new building, designed by Robert Sturtcman, began in 1995 and the present library opened in July, 1996.

By 2004 the Taos Library had outgrown its new location and plans and fundraising for expansion began in January, 2005.

Lucy Case Harwood established the Harwood home as a place where working artists, musicians, and writers could come and find lodging, solace and camaraderie. The cultural consequences of that decision place her achievement on a level with that of her art patron neighbor Mabel Dodge Luhan. For, as the noted American historian Shelby Foote once wrote, "A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library".

 

The Museum: 1990s

The Harwood Museum of Art is among the most significant regional museums in the United States, featuring work by the Taos Society of Arts, the Taos Moderns, and other preminent regional artists such as Lee Mullican, Oli Sihvonen, and John DePuy; The Agnes Martin Gallery with its permanent installation of the artist's suite of seven grid paintings , work by major contemporary artists with strong ties to Taos, such as Larry Bell, Ken Price, Charles Strong and Dennis Hopper; and a recently donated collection of over 300 works by major artists with ties to Taos and the Southwest. With its location in Taos the Harwood is neighbor to many internationally recognized American artists now living and working in northern New Mexico, including Judy Chicago, Bruce Naumann, Susan Rothenburg, Francisco Clemente, Richard Tuttle, Larry Bell, Ronald Davis, Ron Cooper. Add to this the tally of major artists who are or have been 'part-time' residents of Taos, too long to list here. Equally important is the community of regionally and nationally important artists currently working in New Mexico today.

In 1992 artist Robert M. Ellis, former Pasadena Curator of Education, retired after twenty years on the art faculty at the University of New Mexico. At that time UNM asked Ellis to serve as interim director of the Harwood Foundation:

When I first arrived 1990 as the interim director and into the 90's, the institution was called the Harwood Foundation. All downstairs was library and the museum was just two galleries upstairs (Hispanic/Martin). My vision was to make the Harwood a Museum of Art. I dropped the name of Foundation. I could never find out if there was ever a foundation. I never had to submit annual reports. I just followed my vision. UNM was trying to get rid of Taos properties. They got the town to take over the library (1990). The librarian and the library staff were under the city payroll, but the UNM still owned the building. I knew [the library] was going to move out. [The Town of Taos] wanted to build a library, and in 1996 the present town library was opened to the public.... I went to the provost, who was a biologist and not interested in museums. I told her, we will take care of the building. She said "how much would it cost." I said -- off the top of my head $400,000 and I will raise $200,000. It turned out to be 1.4 million once they got everything done. There was a wonderful woman at the head of the Foundation, she came from UCLA. She really was interested and helped. She helped me with a plan -- we could fundraise the money over five years. If someone wanted to give $25,000 they could give five thousand per year. No one had ever raised that kind of money in Taos. I knew the University politics because of my time teaching at UNM Main campus, and I was known on campus. (I had been with the University art museum and helped train docents -- two of the docents I trained were on the board of regents). As a result we got the regents to the Harwood for the first time).
 
I was on the Taos Art association there were a lot of people who didn't know what board members were supposed to do. Gus Foster was also on the board. Gus would step up to the plate whenever something needed to be done. I then got him on the Harwood Foundation board - the board was used as an advisory board back then, they didn't have any governing power. He shared my vision. At that time we had no money for exhibits. The foundation had done two shows, but nothing contemporary. Through Gus, I got acquainted with Kenny Price and Larry Bell and others." The museum didn't have any money, but we could have first class exhibits because of the wealth of artist's living around us. I dropped the title of Harwood Foundation and Harwood Library and began calling the institution The Harwood Museum of Art'' (Robert M. Ellis, interview 8.2.13).

One major feat by Bob Ellis during that time was the installation of a permanent Agnes Martin Gallery, an accomplishment, one that would assure the abiding importance of the Harwood in the eyes of the University:

Agnes moved back to Taos in 1992. I had seen her show back in the 1970's in Pasadena and I was just bowled over. Having been an employee at Pasadena I was able to get her address in Cuba, New Mexico. I sent her a letter telling her how much I admired her work and asked if I could come and visit. I had a post card back that said 'don't come up and don't give anybody my address". I sent her another note that said "if you ever would like me to come and visit, please let me know". When she moved back to Taos she remembered me and our correspondence. (During that time she moved into plaza in 1992 -- she fell and broke her wrist and did not paint much that year). It was about 1993 and we started having lunch together just about every week. We ended up having about 46 lunches together! One of the restaurants we frequented did not serve liquor, and so they brought Agnes wine in a coffee pot.
 
Agnes and I had a great friendship. During our lunches I mentioned that I would like to exhibit the paintings she had just created before they were sent to New York. She called in 1993/1994 and she said she wanted Caroline and me to come to her studio -- she had done ten of the paintings -- she said I could show seven of them. I immediately set up the gallery because she meant that she wanted the show immediately. I had a show scheduled for a Gene Kloss exhibit. The lenders to the exhibit were kind enough to let me readjust the schedule for Agnes so we got Agnes in the gallery right away. People were comparing it to the Rothko chapel -- she helped hang the show and she said 'the Whitney never let me do this' (Ellis, interview 8.2.13).

This preeminent and exceptional move resulted in artist's donation to the Harwood of the seven paintings to comprise the permanent installation of the Agnes Martin Gallery, which draws an international audience and recently enhanced the Harwood's centennial exhibition Agnes Martin: Before the Grid.

 

The Museum: 2013

The mission of The Harwood Museum is to "Bring Taos Arts to the World and World Arts to Taos". In recent years the Harwood has hosted exhibitions that range from traditional to contemporary. The priority is to broaden the museum audience by creating shows and programming for people of diverse ages, gender, nationality and means. Two exhibitions organized by The Harwood Museum have traveled to major national institutions, raising the Harwood's profile and the awareness of its presence and role in the American Art world. In 2010, the Harwood installed Ken Price's Death Shrine I from the Happy's Curios series. Installed next to the Agnes Martin Gallery, Death Shrine enriches the contemporary holdings of the Museum's collections. Recently, two of the newest galleries have been equipped to exhibit challenging new media installations, and the new wing's auditorium provides the Taos community with an alternative theater venue.

The Taos Society of Artists, the earlier of the two art colonies that formed in Taos, is featured in the Dorothy and Jack Brandenburg Gallery is represented in the permanent collection by several of the founders, including Joseph Henry Sharp, Bert Geer Phillips, and Ernest Blumenschein. The later migration of Taos Moderns were the most represented group of artists in the Harwood's permanent collections until the recent gift by Gus Foster of over 350 works of contemporary artists. In the Moderns collection, (the Moderns were a post-WW II group ranging from approximately the late 1930's - the 1960's) to name a few are Agnes Martin, Edward Corbett, Cady Wells, Georgia O'Keefe and Rebecca Salsbury James. Most recently, the collection has grown to an expanse of close to 5,000 works.

The exhibit schedule reflects the Museum's efforts to attract diverse audiences to engage in various genres: from ultra-contemporary shows such as Inigo Manglano-Ovalle: Juggernaut, Risk Hazekamp's Valley of the Gods; Nod Nod Wink Wink: Conceptual Art in New Mexico and Its Influences and Falling Without Fear: New Media in a New World) to exhibits tracing the roots of the Taos tradition: Taos Founders: Return to Sacred Places; Gene Kloss - From Berkeley to Taos; E.I Couse, Joseph Henry Sharp: Kindred Spirits and the Adobe Connection. The hope is that the diversified exhibition schedule will encourage audiences to see art as host to a range of aesthetics and not simply as a function of individual taste.

An ongoing effort has been made to include in the Harwood legacy art communities that existed long before Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips were drawn to Taos by the rhapsodic accounts of the area and its peoples by future Taos Society of Artists founder Joseph Henry Sharp. Exhibition of work by traditional and contemporary Native Americans is a priority in the rotating exhibit schedule; recent shows include: Dwayne Wilcox: Skipped the Light Fandango; Eah-Ha-Wa and Jonathan Warm Day Coming; Woody Crumbo, R C Gorman and Fritz Scholder in What Becomes a Legend Most , Sand painting in Wool, The Taos Pueblo Photographs; The Journey as Destination: Contemporary Native American Prints; Return of Blue Lake. These exhibitions have helped to create an important and valued relationship with the Taos Pueblo, as well as encourage internships from the Pueblo at The Harwood Museum.

Women artists have always been underrepresented in museums and galleries. In the last five years strong representation by female artists in New Mexico has also been an exhibition priority. This is reflected in exhibits by internationally recognized contemporary artists such as Agnes Martin, Vilja Celmins, Linda Benglis, Elaine de Kooning, Bea Mandelman, Marsha Skinner, Anni Albers, as well in exhibits by regional artists such as Melissa Zink, Dorothy Brett, Barbara Latham, Gene Kloss, Dorothy Benrimo, Rebecca Salsbury James, Eah-Ha-Wa, Mary Ufer, Millicent Rogers, Frieda Lawrence, Barbara Harmon, Stella Snead, and IIIa McAfee.

A centerpiece of the permanent collection is the Hispanic Traditions Gallery and its display of broad range of the Spanish Colonial craft traditions of northern New Mexico. Paintings, or retablos, as well as objects in tin and wood, and textiles represent the local art based on European traditions that was created in the Taos area long before the formation of the Taos Art Colony in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The tradition of the New Mexico carpiñteros or local furniture craftsmen dates to the beginning of Spanish colonization. The later tradition of tin work had an integral place in Hispanic religious culture during the 19th century, reaching its artistic height in the 1880s. A major art form of Hispanic New Mexico are the santos, sacred images of Roman Catholicism carved in wood. Most of the santos in the Harwood collection date from the classic period of 1800-1850, yet the Harwood's Hispanic art includes the largest public collection of wood sculptures by mid-twentieth century Taos santero Patrociño Barela. And the tradition of the santero carving in the traditional styles continues in New Mexico to this day, evidenced by the recent exhibition of works by santero Victor Goler.

An area reserved for new acquisitions demonstrates the key role of gifting for the Museum's permanent collection. Recent gifts have included art work and archival materials from Melissa Zink, John De Puy, and an historic bequest by Gus Foster. A new permanent gallery for contemporary art that will highlight prominent local artists marks the start of a new era for the Harwood.

The creation of the Curator's Wall has opened a new line of dialogue between Harwood Museum Curatorial staff and artists living and working in Taos. The Wall, of unusual height and width, is reserved for young to mid-career working artists. It will challenge and encourage the artists as it provides visibility for their work within the Museum's constituencies and the community at large.

 

The New Wing

Group exhibitions have served to unite artist communities and celebrate their historic legacies. Recent shows include: Hopper at the Harwood; New Mexorado: Artists Living & Working in the Albuquerque-Denver Corridor; and Black Mountain College and New Mexico. These exhibitions have been made possible by a new gallery provided by the Harwood's recent three-level, 10,700 square-foot expansion, the most ambitious renovation of the Museum since 1997. The $6.3 million "wing", funded in part by the New Mexico State Legislature, by private donation and by the University of New Mexico, adds the Mandelman-Ribak Gallery, a 1,150 square-foot exhibition space that honors the legacy two artists who arrived in Taos in 1944 and became core figures in the Taos Moderns movement.

On the same level as the Mandelman-Ribak Gallery and accessible through the connecting Robert M. Ellis and Caroline Lee Galley, is the new Arthur Bell Auditorium, a 130-seat state-of-the-art facility that has enhanced the Harwood's capacity to present rich, dynamic public programs. The acoustically-adjustable, digitally-equipped space allows for a wide array of film, music, lectures and performance to the Taos community. The new wing's lower two levels are devoted to the care and conservation of the Harwood's 3,000 art objects and of the 17,000 historical photographs and artist and gallery records and documents that comprise its archives. The new storage area for the art objects, equipped with a compact art storage system and advanced climate control, has tripled the Museum's storage capacity. Opposite the art storage space, the Archives Room and Work-Study Room enables the Harwood to facilitate scholarly access to Taos's rich cultural history.

"You cannot not know history" (Philip Johnson). A museum is not a warehouse of a dead past. The very word "museum" denotes inspiration, "the dwelling for the Muses". Yet it should be noted that in Greek mythology, one tradition identifies the Muses as the daughters of Memory. Lucy and Burt Harwood established the enduring legacy of the Harwood Foundation and made possible the acquisition of the core of the Harwood collections. Through its collections, its exhibitions of historic and contemporary artists and art movements, and its educational programs, The Harwood Museum of Art has kept faith with its founders. The Museum tells a story a history-- one that links the past to the present, a story of ongoing cultural change and abiding continuity.

- Jina Brenneman

 


 

About the exhibition Burt and Lucy at Home

In late 1922 Lucy Case Harwood invited a group of friends to advise her on the distribution of her estate, "El Pueblito", located at 238 Ledoux Street. Both Lucy and her husband Burt were bibliophiles. They housed a collection of important literature and made their home into an informal lending library for the community. It was in this spirit that the curatorial designers at The Harwood Museum of Art chose to honor Lucy Harwood in the 90th anniversary exhibition celebrating her conversion of their estate in 1923 to The Harwood Foundation. (right: Elihu Burritt (Burt) Harwood (1855-1922), The Apache, 1922, oil,. 35 x 24 inches. Collection of the Harwood Museum of Art, Gift of Lucy Harwood)

The exhibition Burt and Lucy At Home seeks to draw the viewer's eye by recourse to the painting tradition of perspective and foreshortening. These painting techniques in the gallery design invite, the viewer to join with Lucy Harwood and her friends at the dinner gathering that would determine the future of 238 Ledoux. It was here that Ms. Harwood consulted her closest friends and advisors regarding her estate, soon to be The Harwood Foundation.

Lucy Harwood studied at Vassar College. Then, in Paris, she attended classes taught by James McNeill Whistler and spent summers with Burt painting in Brittany. What survives from her artistic career is exhibited in this gallery or for the work in need of restoration maintained in the collection storage of the Harwood.In Paris, Lucy was exposed to the international and bohemian culture of the Académie Julian. The Académie was the first of its kind to allow women into its program. Founded in 1868 by Rodolphe Julian, the school offered an open environment that appealed greatly to expatriates from all over the world (More than 50 nationalities were represented at the school in its heyday). The Académie Julian not only prepared students for the exams at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts, it also offered general training in arts.

In her Women of the Académie Julian: The Rise of the Female Art Student, Katherine Amato quotes from Catherine Fehrer's account of her time as a student at the Académie

Julian observed that women "were given none of the opportunities which each male artist [claimed] as his right" and that "few artists [cared] to have the responsibility of taking ladies into their ateliers." Therefore, it was decided to allow women to attend the Académie Julian, unlike most other schools of the time. ... [There was] an elaborate system of concours involving both the men's and women's ateliers...once a month all students competed together and the examining professors were not told the name or the sex of the competitors till the results were declared. Julian himself remarked that it was astonishing "how often women have the best in these trials. Especially is this true of portraiture which is generally supposed to be a man's specialty."

As was customary with many female artists, Lucy put her husband's artistic pursuits above her own. Instead, she became known in Taos as a philanthropist, bibliophile and superior hostess. What we are able to see in the painting that hangs here among her husband's work, and in the work in the vault, is the hand of an artist who conveys deep sensitivity through her palette, an unerring eye for detail, and a bold, confident handling of paint. It is likely that Lucy Harwood developed her style abroad. Lucy's influences can be traced to the work of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (through Whistler) and reflect the two overriding principles of the Ecole Impériale: line is more important than color, and black is the fundamental color of tonal harmony. Lucy's work conveys a genuine feeling for color and a sure command of design and composition. Characterized by their subtle delicacy, Lucy's brush strokes reveal her emulation of James McNeil Whistler.

Burt Harwood's talent as both painter and photographer is on display in the Single Lens Reflex exhibition currently in the Foster Gallery and in the exhibition of his paintings in the Mandelman Ribak Gallery. Yet in spite of his accomplishments in both fields, and despite his nomination by founding member Bert Geer Phillips, Harwood's nomination to the Taos Society of Artists was rejected. The reason for his rejection is not known. The curatorial team, as well as former curator David L. Witt, propose three possibilities: 1. They simply did not think his painting merited entry (and, given the period, they would not have considered his photographs as fine art); 2. Burt's straightforward portrayal of the American Indians did not fit the idealized -- and commercially successful -- approach of the artists of the Taos Society, whose depiction of Native Americans appealed to the romantized stereotypes of the "noble savage" in vogue at the time; 3. As a relatively recent arrival in Taos (1917) who spent much of his six years of residency travelling, Burt was not close to the other artists in the Society and would not have been considered a Taoseño by them. Yet their decision does not appear to have impacted But Harwood's enthusiasm or output, judging from his photographs in the Foster gallery and the surviving paintings.

Burt Harwood chronicled an unrivaled view of Northern New Mexico through his honest renderings on canvas and with his camera lens. His paintings and photographs addressed the realities of the First People's life in Taos. The portrayal of his subjects retained their own identity; the blur of a young girl running in handed-down shoes rather than the stock moccasins, the Pueblo man smoking a cigarette instead of the conventional pipe.

Perhaps the finest example of this authenticity is The Apache, 1922, whose accomplished rendering of the sitter is direct and convincing. A dispassionate observer, But Harwood was concerned with the sense of place rather than the period's sentimental view of the "Vanishing American." Paintings such as Comanche Dance, Taos Pueblo, ca. 1920, demonstrate an objective approach enhanced by a strong personal style and a deep respect for honest narrative. The popular artists and illustrators of the day produced beautiful canvases extolling the Native American as a living (though passing) symbol of the West. The romanticized portraits of The Taos Society of Artists contributed to that mythology. Yet a century later, the paintings and photographs of Burt Harwood show him to be, arguably, one of the most authentic artist chroniclers of early twentieth-century New Mexico.

And the abiding legacy of Lucy's Harwood Foundation -- with its tradition of art, culture, and literature -- has played a critical and ongoing role in defining Taos to this day as a significant art colony, whose long line of artists and writers have helped make the history and mythology of the Southwest.

- Jina Brenneman, Curator of collections and exhibitions

 

Resource Library editor's note

The above texts were published on October 25, 2013 in Resource Library with permission of the Harwood Museum of Art, which was granted October 25, 2013.

Resource Library wishes to express appreciation to Jina Brenneman, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the Harwood Museum of Art, for her assistance in securing permission for online publication.

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