What Becomes a Legend Most

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lay it away
Jim Wagner ponders Love, Hate, Fuck, Dam © paul o'connor
What Becomes a Legend Most
Curated by: jina brenneman

238 Ledoux Street
Taos, New Mexico 87571
May 18th, 2013 - September 8th, 2013

Tue-Sat 10-5; Sun 12-5



“For my next trick,” says Joseph Cornell, or Vladimir Nabokov, or Wes Anderson, “I have put the world into a box.”And when he opens the box, you see something dark and glittering, an orderly mess of shards, refuse, bits of junk and feather and butterfly wing, tokens and totems of memory, maps of exile, documentation of loss.And you say, leaning in, “The world!” –Michael Chabon

Regionalism has always been important, but it has never been sexy, until now. It is not just global access through the internet—which seems almost outdated—but it is the savvier techniques that have been developed as a result of the web.  Thus regionalism has become global.  Where one may remain safely anonymous in their personal life, they are significantly linked to the world. Dave Hickey can quietly and contentedly drop quarters into a slot machine without having to worry about Peter Schjeldahl looking over his shoulder. You can rub shoulders with Larry Bell at the local market and bid him good luck at his opening in Cannes.

Taos, New Mexico is an exciting place to promote regionalism because of the importance, historic and contemporary, of its intellectual community. Roberta Smith coined the term ‘Cosmopolitan Regionalism’ in an article she wrote for the New York Times, November 10, 2011. The article was written in response to Pacific Standard Time, a southern California series of exhibits that, arguably, put regionalism back on the ‘hip’ list. “Pacific Standard Time is a great argument for museums concentrating first and foremost on local history, for a kind of cosmopolitan regionalism, if you will. It sets an example that other curators in other cities should follow, beginning in my mind with Chicago and San Francisco. If America has more than one art capital, it probably has more than two”. – Roberta Smith, New York Times, November 10, 2011

This series of exhibitions exalts in the tremendous and flamboyant group of artists in Taos who followed on the heels of the Taos Moderns.  ‘The story of Taos in the last 100 years is the story of its artists. First on the scene were the Taos Founders who arrived soon after the turn of the last century. The best of the early Taos paintings have soared to the ‘blue chip’ stratosphere. Then came the Taos Moderns, led by the estimable Andrew Dasburg, who from the late 1920s through the mid-1960s pursued the more abstract modes that held sway in East and West Coast avant garde circles.

What’s next? In a decade or so, when critics and collectors look back at the last third of the 20th century they will see Chapter III, a distinctive period in the continuum of art history in this small art town of the U.S. Chapter III is characterized by two distinct but tightly related elements. First, a great wave of young, relatively unknown artists of all stripes arrived in town, drawn by the powerful Taos ‘art magnate,’ a force generated by a combination of history, tradition, landscape and a sense of freedom that is irresistible to artists. Second, and just as significant, a score of smart, dedicated art dealers set up shop to represent these exciting new Taos artists. The combination created a powerful aesthetic and commercial vitality that was new to Taos and unique in the country.” Stephen Parks

Taos became mid-west/west art central upon the arrival of Robert Dean Stockwell, Dennis Hopper, Larry Bell, Ken Price, Melissa Zink, Harold Joe Waldrum, Ronald Davis and Lee Mullican - not to mention the arrival of Bruce Naumann, Francisco Clemente, Susan Rothenberg, Lynda Benglis and Judy Chicago to Northern New Mexico. This list could go on, not to mention the extraordinary artists already living in Taos

“A coterie of young, well-trained, representational painters, Bill Acheff, David Lefell, Sherry McGraw, Ron Barsano, Rod Goebel, Walt Gonske, Bob Daughters, Julian Robles and Ray Vinella among them. Then there were the rebels, the young, iconoclastic artists who, in the spirit of the ‘60s, moved to Taos and pushed the limits—aesthetically and socially.  Among them were Bill Gersh, Tom Nobel, Bill Davis, and the most important surviving art figure of those years, Jim Wagner”. Stephen Parks

 The art dealers and collectors from the 3rd Chapter have proven to be, not only as vital, but also as legendary as the artists themselves.  Stephen Parks, Robert Parsons, Ray Trotter, Maggie Kress, Tally Richards, Gorman of course, Howard and Mara Taylor, The Shriver Gallery, Return Gallery, Total Arts not only helped these artists survive, but also contributed to The Harwood permanent collection and other important museum collections. They threw parties, printed invitations, brought in collectors from around the world. They were a huge economic force in Taos. Perhaps most important was the innovative and intelligent publication ‘ARTlines’ published by Stephen Parks. The publication serves to this day as the most important chronicle of the most creative voices of its time. – Jina Brenneman, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions