Taos — Crossroads for Printmakers

Taos — Crossroads for Printmakers

What attracted so many accomplished visiting artists to Taos and kept them returning frequently? Perhaps Taos’ rich multi-cultural history, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and intense blue skies lured artists, along with the appeal of a vibrant colony of creative individuals. No doubt, those coming in the early 20th century admired the work of the Taos Society of Artists, regularly exhibiting and winning prizes in regional and national shows. Whatever the attraction, artists came in great numbers and returned year after year to make art and renew friendships.

 Alexandre Hogue

Alexandre Hogue

Among the many was Alexandre Hogue, a promising north Texas artist. In 1926 Hogue packed his Model T Ford with a tent, a cot, pots and pans, a lantern, paint boxes, brushes, and an easel. Then he headed north over dirt roads to Taos. Upon arrival he discovered its allure, not only its natural beauty but also the synergy of an established colony of creative people.  He returned each year until WW II, with a circle of friends growing to include Oscar Berninghaus, Ernest Blumenschein, Emil Bisttram, Howard Cook, and Buck Dunton.

When Joseph Imhof built his home in Taos in 1930 and set up a lithography press, Hogue made still another new friend, one who shared his deep interest in a challenging medium for printmaking.  Imhof’s Rutherford was the first lithography press in Taos, just like those he worked with at Currier & Ives back in New York.  The University of New Mexico Field School in art at the Harwood Foundation, barely a year old, invited Hogue to join the summer faculty and bring students from Texas State College for Women where he taught art.  No doubt, Hogue’s ready supply of students and Imhof’s newly arrived press led the Field School to offer courses in lithography — another first for Taos.

UNM Field School announcement, 1940

Alexandre Hogue printed one of his most accomplished lithographs, Five Crosses, in 1938 on the Rutherford press in Joseph Imhof’s studio.  This work shown above marks one of the high points in Taos printmaking by a visiting artist in the late 1930s.

Just as Texas artists were heading for the Taos crossroads, so too were printmakers from Kansas, Oklahoma, New York, Massachusetts, and California.  Next week read our blog about an artist not remembered in Taos but who visited here regularly from California where a printmaking lab is named in his honor.  One clue:  he was also an architect.

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