Why were printmakers drawn to northern New Mexico?
In September of 1898, Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips, two young artists from New York, discovered the beauty and fascination of the Taos Valley of northern New Mexico. Both studied in France where, in 1894, they met J.H. Sharp, who told them about his recent visit to Taos. Their experience with art colonies in Europe stimulated a desire to establish such a colony in Taos. There, the landscape, the Native American and Spanish cultures, and the spectacular light caused Phillips to say to Blumenschein, “For heaven’s sake, tell people what we have found! Send some artists out here. There is a lifetime’s work for twenty men.” Arriving in 1902 and returning every year thereafter, E.I. Couse was their first convert.
By 1915, six professional artists from the East had made Taos a focus of their work. In that year, they formed the Taos Society of Artists and sent circuit exhibitions of their paintings across the country, which exposed audiences to new cultures, new visions, and a new landscape. This put Taos “on the map” for art and tourism, making it one of the most important art colonies in America until its disbandment in 1927. Prompted by the reputation of the Taos Society of Artists and later enhanced by the presence of the art patron, Mabel Dodge Luhan, the art community expanded rapidly.
Once the success and renown of the Taos Society of Artists put northern New Mexico on the art world map, the region began to attract artists from across the country and around the world. While many were painters, artists who worked in the print medium made the trek, as well. A significant number of the exhibited prints in Glimpses of the Past were produced from the mid-1920’s through the 1940’s, when widespread economic hardship made it difficult for artists to sell their work. The print medium allowed an artist to produce multiple images quickly and inexpensively and sell them at prices affordable for collectors of modest means.
146 Kit Carson Road, Taos, New Mexico 87571