The Clemmer Collection: A History of New Mexico Print Artists

Peyton Wright Gallery is pleased to present works from The Clemmer Collection in an exhibition of graphic media spanning the period from the late 19th through the mid 20th centuries.

The exhibition opens Friday, July 5th, 2024 with an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibition runs through Monday, September 30.

The prints in the collection encompass a variety of techniques ranging from etching and lithography to woodblock, linocut, aquatint, serigraphy and monotype. The collection of fifty works is stylistically diverse with examples of academic realism, regionalism, modernism and cubist-inspired abstraction, presented in the main rooms of Peyton Wright Gallery in museum quality framing.

The collection includes pieces by artists who will be familiar to many, but the primary focus is on the work of lesser-known printmakers. Some of the artists to be exhibited were active in New Mexico for decades, while others visited the state for a few weeks or less.

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 an array of artists from across the country and around the world. Many of them were painters, but artists who worked in the print medium made the trek as well. A significant number of the prints in The Clemmer Collection were produced from the mid-1920s through the ‘40s, when widespread economic hardship made it difficult for artists to sell their work. The print medium allowed for an artist to produce multiple images quickly and inexpensively and to sell them at affordable prices.

Of the early New Mexico artists who worked primarily in the print medium,  Gustave Baumann and Gene Kloss are undoubtedly the best known. The Clemmer Collection reveals that there were many others who found similar inspiration in the landscape and in the vibrant tri-cultural communities of the region, especially those of Santa Fe and Taos.

Some of these artists are largely lost to history: little is known about printmakers such as B. Pat Pattison of Taos, represented in the exhibition by two vibrant linocut portraits, and Albert H. Marvin, Jr., whose lithograph ‘Junk Dealer, Taos’ eschews more commonly depicted landmarks for a charming backstreet scene of everyday life.

The long tradition of print making in New Mexico can be traced back to the work of Peter Moran, younger brother of the acclaimed landscapist Thomas Moran. Beginning in 1880, Peter Moran began producing paintings, drawings and prints based upon his visits to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos and the Rio Grande pueblos. The wealth of material he produced establishes him as the first artist to produce a substantial body of work depicting New Mexican subjects. Moran is represented here by a superb group of etchings that includes a Taos scene printed on silk and a rare etching (‘The Burro Train, New Mexico’) modified with the addition of unique monotyping.

Thomas Moran, whose New Mexico etchings are much fewer in number than those of his brother, is represented as well with an 1881 image of San Juan Pueblo.

The exhibition includes hand-colored etchings by Blanche McVeigh and Dorothy Stauffer, woodblocks and serigraphs by Norma Bassett Hall, and a rare white-line woodblock depicting a Buffalo Dance at Taos Pueblo by Henrietta Dean Lang.

Other highlights include Howard Cook’s iconic 1927 wood engraving of Taos Pueblo titled ‘Morning Smokes,’ a pair of rare etching/aquatints by Canadian artist John Wesley Cotton,and Santa Fe scenes by master etcher Roi Partridge.

What: The Clemmer Collection: A History of New Mexico Print Artists

 

Where: Peyton Wright Gallery, 237 East Palace Avenue, Santa Fe NM

 

When: Exhibition opening reception: Friday, July 5, 2024, 5 to 7 p.m.

 

             Exhibition: Friday, July 5, 2024  – Monday, September 30, 2024

             Mon- Sat 9 -5

About the Artists
Another artist about whom little is known, the scant documentation available on Albert H. Marvin, Jr., indicates that he was a student at the Kansas City Art Institute in the 1930s. While serving in the Air Force during the Second World War he painted a series of murals documenting the history of flight for the officers’ club at the Air Force base in Portland, Oregon. He studied at Reed College in Portland after the war and pursued a career in aeronautics.

The details surrounding his superbly conceived and executed lithograph ‘Junk Dealer, Taos’ are lost to time, but the piece speaks eloquently for itself. The backstreet view of a peddler in a horse-drawn wagon is another slice of ordinary life in Taos that embodies the concept of ‘Glimpses of the Past.’
Who B. Pat Pattison was—where he or she was from, where he/she studied, how long he/she lived in Taos—we may never know.

Years of searching revealed no information about the artist... until recently.

An article from the November 6, 1938, edition of the ‘Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’ recently posted online describes in detail an exhibition of Taos artists that was to take place at Texas Tech University. Among such notables as E.I. Couse, O.E. Berninghaus, Nicolai Fechin, Dorothy Brett, Howard Cook and Gene Kloss is a mention of the inclusion of three works by Pat Pattison, including the two prints ‘Elk- Foot’ and ‘Ol’ Boy.’

The graphic vibrance and bold modernity of these portraits is remarkable, particularly in consideration of the fact that they are at least 83 years old. Pattison’s command of his/her medium is absolute and the dramatic effect of the half-shaded face of the handsome Ol’ Boy and the three-quarter-shaded face of the even more handsome Elk Foot is quite extraordinary. Pattison’s use of serrated lines in the subject’s faces and in the patterns of Elk Foot’s blanket and Ol’ Boy’s plaid shirt gives an energetic, rhythmic cohesion to the image. Pattison’s incorporation of the borders of the print and the informational margin at the bottom as graphic elements adds to the sophistication of the composition.

Like his portraitist, the identity of Ol’ Boy remains a mystery, but his cohort Jerry ‘Elk Foot’ Mirabal is well known as a model for both E.I. Couse and J.H. Sharp. One of Couse’s early Taos masterpieces is a full-length, life-size portrait of Elk Foot that resides in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

(1876 - 1940)
Little information is available regarding the life and career of Henrietta Dean Lang. It is documented that she lived and worked in Detroit and was a longtime member and officer of that city’s Society of Painters and Sculptors. She was an instructor at the College of the City of Detroit and was one of 28 Americans (from an applicant pool of 2,000) to represent her country at the 1936 International Print & Lithography Show in Chicago.

At some point in her career Lang learned white-line woodblock printmaking—a technique developed by the Swedish-born New Mexico artist B.J.O. Nordfeldt. White-line woodblock printmaking is a style associated primarily with the artist’s colony at Provincetown, Massachusetts (most specifically Blanche Lazzell—the form’s most celebrated practitioner), and it is not known how Lang became acquainted with it or when she might have visited New Mexico.

Instead of carving a separate block for each color, as in the traditional method employed by woodblock artists such as Gustave Baumann, white-line prints employ only one block. The artist draws a subject on the block then carves thin lines between the different areas of color. A sheet of heavy paper is attached to one edge of the block and the artist applies the palette of colors to the raised areas of the composition. The sheet is then carefully folded over the block and pressure is applied to transfer the ink to the paper.

The charming scene of a Buffalo Dance at Taos Pueblo is one of only two known New Mexico prints by Lang. Her white-line woodblocks may be the only historic examples of the technique employed for New Mexico subjects.

(1888 - 1984)
A native of Washington state, Roi Partridge’s family moved to Seattle when he was a child.

He began showing his work in Seattle as part of an avant garde artist’s collective called ‘The Triad.’ In his early 20s Partridge moved to New York to study at the National Academy of Design, followed by an extended European sojourn during which he studied etching in Munich and worked as a printmaker in Paris.

Partridge returned to America just before the outbreak of the First World War, settling in California. He lived in San Francisco and taught at Mills College in Oakland. He was married to the noted photographer Imogen Cunningham from 1915 to 1934.

Partridge’s work is distinguished by his highly articulate line work in which forms are built up from dense accumulations of fine etching with little or no reliance on drypoint or other techniques to build up darker areas. This approach gives his work a distinctive open, clean look that makes his prints immediately identifiable.

Partridge’s view of the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe was created in 1926, nine years after the institution opened. A close examination will reveal that the scene is reversed, indicating that Partridge did not flip the orientation of his sketch when etching it to the plate. This resulted in a mirror image version of the facade of the familiar building.

(1901 - 1980)
A major figure in the history of 20th century New Mexico art, Howard Norton Cook was a native of Springfield, Massachusetts. In the early 1920s he studied with George Bridgman and Joseph Pennell at the Art Students League in New York on a scholarship, where he made connections with fellow students, such as Max Weber and Andrew Dasburg. In the 1920s, Cook worked as an illustrator for several well-known magazines, including Harper’s, Scribner’s, Survey, Atlantic Monthly, Forum, and Century, work that allowed him to travel all over the world.

In 1926 he was commissioned by ‘Forum’ magazine to travel to New Mexico to produce illustrations for their serialized version of Willa Cather’s ‘Death Comes for the Archbishop.’

Between 1926 and ’27 Cook created a series of woodblocks and etchings that are recognized as some of the masterpieces of New Mexico printmaking. He met his wife, the artist Barbara Latham, in Taos and the couple relocated permanently to New Mexico in 1935.

Download Full Biography
(1841 - 1914)
Peter Moran was the youngest of the prodigiously talented Moran brothers, which included John (a photographer), Edward (a painter of marine subjects) and, most famously, Thomas—one of the premiere American landscape artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Moran family emigrated to the United States from Bolton, England, when Peter was three years old. They settled in Philadelphia and Peter began his artistic training as an apprentice to a lithography firm. He studied with his brothers Edward and Thomas and developed great fluency as a draftsman, watercolorist, oil painter and etcher.

He accompanied Thomas on a trip to Wyoming in 1879 and in 1880 made his first trip to New Mexico. His return trip in 1881 is well documented and it is thought that he might have made further excursions in 1882 and perhaps later in the decade. Moran sketched and painted dozens of images on these excursions, traveling north from Albuquerque to Santa Fe and Taos and west to Zia and Zuni pueblos in the company of fellow artist Henry Rankin Poore and the photographer William Henry Jackson.

Returning to his Philadelphia studio Moran turned his sketches into etchings and oil paintings. The material that he gathered on these trips provided subject matter that he was to utilize for the rest of his life, making him the first artist to create an extended body of work depicting the far-flung territory.

The etching plates for a number of Peter and Thomas Moran’s prints survived the artists themselves and posthumous strikes of some of these images abound. Legitimate pencil signatures are proof that the print was struck as part of an authorized edition with the direct involvement of the artist.

(1837 - 1926)
Born in Bolton, England, like his artist brothers, Thomas Moran rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most celebrated and successful American artists of his era.

He apprenticed with a wood engraving firm in Philadelphia during his teenage years and then studied with his older brother, Edward, a talented painter of marine genre subjects who had studied with Martin Johnson Heade, Sanford Gifford and John F. Kensett. The two brothers were highly enamored of the work of the English landscapist J.M.W. Turner and traveled to England in 1862 to study his work in person.

Thomas began his career as an artist of the Hudson River School but in 1871 he made the first of eight extended trips to the West and subject matter from the Tetons, Yellowstone, the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite began to dominate his output. Thomas traveled regularly to the West until he was in his 60s, passing through New Mexico on multiple occasions. He sketched numerous pueblo scenes and developed them into etchings and oil paintings back in his studio in Newark, New Jersey.

Like his younger brother Peter, Thomas had traveled on occasion with the photographer William Henry Jackson, and like Peter he utilized some of Jackson’s photographs as the basis for etchings. This is likely the case with Thomas’s 1891 etching of San Juan Pueblo, now known as Ohkay Owingeh.

Thomas and Peter were both master etchers and regularly submitted major examples of their work to juried exhibitions. The brothers’ technique bears obvious similarities but Thomas did not feature domestic animals to the degree that his younger brother did—only one reclining burro is featured in Thomas’s composition. Thomas’s inscription at lower right, printed in reverse from the plate, reads ‘Old church, Pueblo San Juan, New Mexico.’ Thomas created fewer New Mexico prints than Peter and the signature on this example ensures that it passed through the hands of the artist himself.
(1901 - 1990)
Oklahoma-born artist Ina Annette studied at the University of Oklahoma in Norman and worked in her native state as well as Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. She was fluent in a variety of graphic media and worked as an illustrator in the 1930s. Her involvement with New Mexico subjects was extensive.
(1889 - 1957)
Norma Bassett Hall was a native of Oregon who established herself as a prolific printmaker with a particular emphasis on color techniques.

She began her studies at the Portland Art Association followed by four years at the Art Institute of Chicago where she graduated in 1918. Returning to Portland, she taught high school art classes and married her Art Institute classmate, Arthur Hall.

The couple moved to El Dorado, Kansas, and, in 1930, became co-founders of the Prairie Print Makers—Norma being the only woman among the eleven artists in the charter group (two other founding members of the group were Charles M. Capps and C.A. Seward).

Hall had begun making block prints while on her honeymoon in 1922, initially working with oil-based pigments. In 1925, while on an extended European sojourn, she switched to transparent, water-based inks after learning Japanese woodblock techniques from the English printmaker Mabel Royds.

The Halls moved to New Mexico in 1942 and Norma added the serigraph, or silkscreen, technique to her repertoire.
(1901 - 1974)
A native of Iowa, Dorothy Brenholts displayed artistic talent from an early age. She studied at the University of California at San Diego from 1919 until 1922 and completed her degree (in philosophy) at Stanford. She took art classes in Los Angeles and was sufficiently accomplished to teach at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco by age 24.

Between 1926 and ’28 she pursued further art studies in France and Italy and, upon returning to the United States, at the Art Students League in New York. She married Leo Stauffer in 1929 and the couple moved to Denver where they remained for ten years.

In 1939 she came to Santa Fe, remarried to a man named King, and then moved on to El Paso. A third husband was named Joe Hay, thus her prints bear different signatures depending upon her marital status at the time (though most appear to be signed ‘Stauffer’). She moved to Tucson in 1962 and lived out the rest of her life there.

Etching was Hay’s primary medium though she executed several mural projects, including at the old Albuquerque Airport and La Fonda Hotel and the Bishop’s Lodge resort in Santa Fe. Like a number of her contemporaries Hay created numerous small ‘gift’ prints in the two by three inch range that she likely sold for only a few dollars back in the 1930s and ‘40s. She executed numerous views of Santa Fe and the pueblos along the Rio Grande and west to Acoma.

Her charming scene of Taos Pueblo features hand-coloring in watercolor, likely (though not necessarily definitively) executed by the artist herself.

(1897 - 1975)
A native of New York City, Frederick Monhoff’s family relocated to Los Angeles when he was still a child. He served in the U.S. Navy in World War I and after his discharge studied at the University of California at Berkeley and with the artist Armin Hansen.

He worked in watercolor and oils and produced 44 etchings, including a suite of small New Mexico scenes, one of which is a highly imaginative and dramatic scene of a Penitente ritual at Nambé. Monhoff’s rhythmic line work and modernist contortions bring an agitated energy to these ceremonial scenes.