Saturday, March 22, 2014

Southwestern Allure: The Art of the Sante Fe Art Colony

The Mennello Museum of American Art (900 East Princeton Street, Orlando, Fl.) kicked off it's 15th anniversary season with the opening celebration of the first exhibit in their series devoted to "The Art of the American West." Southwestern Allure: The Art of the Santa Fe Art Colony considers the development of Santa Fe as an art colony through the artists who visited there and helped establish the city as an artistic center, tracing the colony's formative years from approximately 1915 up to 1940.

When artists from eastern locales began to settle in the Santa Fe area, they discovered a rich culture and a wealth of picturesque imagery. Southwestern Allure focuses exclusively on the art and artists of the Santa Fe colony, presenting the best of the artists’ work and showing the distinct artistic climate of this unique locale and the qualities that distinguish it apart from the rest of the state. The city has a majestic landscape and multicultural environment, which proved a matchless blend of inspiration. The exhibition presents a thorough picture of which artists went to Santa Fe, what they found compelling about the environment, the work they produced, and the prevailing artistic trends, from Realism to Modernism, which they applied to Southwestern subject matter.

Through the works included in the exhibition, a range of styles are presented, encompassing the Santa Fe Old Guard, such as Carlos Vierra, Gerald Cassidy, and Warren Rollins, the Realism of Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, and John Sloan to highlight only a few of the prominent artists. I was so pleased to see so many of the Ash Can artists I admire on display. Southwestern Allure features almost 50 outstanding artworks carefully selected from leading public and private collections. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue is organized by the Boca Museum of Art in conjunction with independent curator Dr. Valerie Ann Leeds, a specialist in American art of this period.

In the corner of the back gallery, a kiva (bee hive) fireplace was set up. Close to a dozen candles flickered while images of Madonna and Christ gave it the feeling of an alter. Genevieve Bernard pointed out to me that the candles were actually flickering diodes. From where I sat they looked completely real. A Robert Henri portrait of a beautifully chiseled Indian woman looked on with her eternal gaze. Several chiefs with their prominent head dresses flanked the other side. A gallery goer paused to finger his phone and he forgot about the art. Mark your calendar! This show is on exhibit through April 6th. Don't miss it. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $1 for students.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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