TRUE HARVEST 2020: Each in October and November 2020, we are connecting the mission of a chosen charity with a curated group of artworks. We really enjoy making the connections between these incredible organizations and these particular pieces of art we are offering.
What better way to support the important work of the Santa Fe Artists’ Medical Fund than to highlight the storied history of two of Northern New Mexico’s artists.
The Santa Fe Artists’ Medical Fund provides financial assistance to visual artists residing in Northern New Mexico, whether working or retired, who have need for medical care or services, but cannot afford them. Interestingly, Santa Fe’s reputation as a haven for artists came about in large part due to the many artists who came to Northern New Mexico in the early part to the twentieth century seeking better health – in particular in trying to heal from tuberculosis in the clean high desert air. As Santa Fe’s reputation grew, more and more artists came – until eventually Santa Fe became the third-largest art market in the United States. Quite extraordinary for a town of 75,000 people!
Both of the artists featured this week were self-taught and came to New Mexico as adults, seeking to find a new path as artists in a place that has always welcomed people making a fresh start. Cady Wells was a good friend of Georgia O’Keeffe, who also made such a start in nearby Abiquiu in 1929. As an artist’s community, Santa Fe and the small towns of Northern New Mexico have always been places where talents flourished, but also places where communities of creatives have supported one another. We hope to continue this tradition in our own way.
Cady Wells (1904-1954) has always been a favorite artist of mine. Although his work is in many major American museums, I had never heard of him until I discovered his work in Santa Fe twenty-five years ago. And while the Wells family were New England captains of industry, having founded the American Optical Corporation in the 19th century and created Old Sturbridge Village, it was the artist Cady who has perhaps the most enduring legacy. Building an impressive John Gaw Meem home on his estate in Jacona, New Mexico, in the shadow of Black Mesa and Los Alamos, he was perhaps the finest watercolorist working full time in the Southwest. He was also a supporter of the arts and artists during his lifetime. As historian Lois Rudnick writes, “During the Great Depression, Wells provided philanthropy for artists, as well as for his Hispanic neighbors, while also supporting the careers of gay composer David Diamond (who dedicated a chamber orchestra piece to him) and dancer/choreographer Martha Graham. Wells’s donation of some 200 carved and painted wooden folk saints (Santos) to the Museum of New Mexico in 1952 formed one of the core collections of the Museum of International Folk Art and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts in Santa Fe.”
So, it seems fitting that we offer some of Cady’s works today to support artists living and working here in New Mexico. Please read more about Cady Wells here.
Pansy Cornelia Stockton (1895–1972) was an American assemblage artist born in El Dorado Springs, Missouri, and raised in Colorado where her parents ran a resort hotel. Stockton was known for her “Sun Paintings”, depictions of landscapes made by assembling bark, moss, leaves and other flora. Over the course of her career Stockton used fragments of hundreds of varieties of vegetation as mediums in her work. These botanical elements included ferns, bark, weeds, leaves, and twigs. Some of her pictures had as many as 10,000 components, and during her career she worked with 250 kinds of vegetation from all over the world. On the backs of some of these assemblages, she listed the items and where she found them. She made her first Sun Painting in 1916 when she was living in Durango, Colorado.
In 1936 Stockton was formally adopted by the Ogallala Sioux for interceding on their behalf to help preserve their land and rights. She settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1942 and died in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1972. During her lifetime she had numerous solo exhibitions, particularly at the New Mexico Museum of Art. She gained notoriety for appearing on the popular television show This Is Your Life in 1953 and was the subject of five Hollywood film shorts. Her work is in the collections of the New Mexico Museum Museum of Art, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and the Stark Museum of Art.
Both of these artists exemplify the community spirit among artists that I have always found so moving here in Northern New Mexico. We live in a very special place – where the altitude and attitude and art come together to form a community that cares for one another as it shares the wealth of its art with the world. Echoing the words of the great patron of the arts, Mabel Dodge Luhan: “I found out that the sunshine in New Mexico could do almost anything with one: make one well if one felt ill, or change a dark mood and lighten it. It entered into one’s deepest places and melted the thick, slow densities. It made one feel good. That is, alive.”
It gives me great joy to support the work of The Santa Fe Artists’ Medical Fund in their efforts to support the arts that make us all feel good. That is, alive.