Aaron Payne Fine Art is pleased to present a retrospective exhibition of Cady Wells. During his short career, Wells created a unique body of watercolors that is unmatched in their beauty, creating a unique and hauntingly beautiful interpretation of the landscape of his adopted Jacona, NM.
Cady Wells was born in 1904 in Southbridge, Massachusetts. He was afforded all the cultural and educational advantages that a child of a wealthy first-generation New England family could receive. As a young man he had years of classical training in music, literature and the arts. He also spent time in boarding school in Arizona, and this exposure ultimately formed his love of the desert landscape and the basis of his aesthetic and spiritual vision.
In 1931 Wells settled in New Mexico and soon thereafter sought out Andrew Dasburg as a teacher. Dasburg introduced him to the fluid medium of watercolor, which clearly suited Wells' style and vision. From 1932-1933, Wells enrolled in courses at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard. In 1935 he went to Japan specifically to study Japanese brush techniques. Throughout these years, however, Wells lived and worked primarily on his ranch in Jacona, NM. The Pojoaque Valley, including nearby Black Mesa, became the primary subjects of his paintings. Here, he not only depicted the mysterious landscape, but was able to express his emotional power through these naturalistic forms in his very unique artistic voice. As his friend Merle Armitage wrote, "Cady was the only painter who ever really got under the skin of the southwest…. Cady really understood its color, its gigantic scale, its infinite and fascinating detail, and its dramatic past…"
In 1933, Wells had his first show alongside Agnes Pelton and Raymond Jonson at the Museum of New Mexico (now the New Mexico Museum of Art) in Santa Fe, which marked the beginning of his career as an artist. Wells went on to achieve recognition as an artist both regionally and nationally. He was given twenty-one solo exhibitions, was included in seventy group shows and was often noted in media and books on the subject of twentieth-century American art.
Wells' promise was never fully realized. He died of a heart attack at the age of forty-nine.
(Image: Cady Wells, Valdez, 1936, Watercolor on paper, h: 14 x w: 20 in / h: 35.6 x w: 50.8 cm ; Courtesy of the artist and Aaron Payne Fine Art)