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The Exciteable Boy shoots from the hip. Our purview from 40 years in the game - American, Western, Southwestern paintings, North American Indian Antiques, things will show up here randomly, if and when NRS is on his game.

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Blog #3, January 20, 2015

Elliott McDowell, Taos Portraits

My old pal and colleague Santa Fe photographer Elliott McDowell has captured some remarkable portrait images of some  of the iconic senior figures at the Taos Pueblo during the past year, and i’m sharing four of them here. 

Elliott’s rapport with the sitters resulted in  humble yet heroic and richly realized treatment of his subjects.   These images are not only stunning but accessible, and succeed admirably in revelation of character.

Exquisite digital pigment prints on fine rag paper. Inquiries welcome.

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Geronimo

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Tony Reyna

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Contemplating the GreatSpirit

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Thanksgiving

All images copyright Elliott Mcdowell, 2014

 

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Blog #2, January 31st, 2014

“Walter Paris, English-American (1842-1906), Colorado Springs’ First Resident Artist

 

A new discovery - a rare 1875 watercolor of Pikes Peak and early Manitou Springs by the English born painter and Colorado Springs’s first resident artist, Walter Paris ((1842-1906), watercolor on paper 7 3/4” by 11 3/4” sight, singed lower right “W Paris, 1875.”

Walter Paris arrived in Colorado Springs in 1872 on the advise of his doctors in England, and was an important artist-documentarian of early Colorado Springs and environs until returning to England in late 1877, Paris was initially trained as an architect, served as an architect for the British government in India from 1863 to 1870, and on his return to England studied at the royal Academy, London under Robotham and Naftel.

Paris’s small watercolors of Colorado scenes are distinguished by precise drawing, pale washes of color and minute details typical of English topographical work. Paris’s subdued washes of color never changed or took on a brilliant tone. “Purity of tone, delicacy of touch, and immense fidelity to natures marvelous detail” were the qualities that critics believed distinguished his work from that of others. His watercolor scenes of the Garden of the Gods, Monument Park, Manitou Park, Pueblo, Cheyenne Canyon and Mount Ouray in the San Juan country were singled out by the Denver press as admirable studies of nature.

Paris himself attributed the exactitude of his work to years in the field of architecture. Paris subsequently moved to New York city, then back to England where he was an instructor in landscape painting at the Royal Military Academy. In 1891 he returned to Colorado Springs but for the next two years he lived in Denver, where he had a studio. He moved to Washington, DC in 1894, and lived and worked there until his death in 1906.

Paris watercolors of Colorado subject matter have been uncommon, impossibly rare, during the course of this writer’s nearly forty year quest for rare and important historical Colorado paintings. I placed a Monument Park water color with the Loo Collection about twenty five years ago,and this is the first i’ve seen or been able to acquire since.

Paris works are held by the heirs of Dr. William Bell, an British born aristocrat, early Colorado Springs resident and vice President of the Denver and Rio Grande Western railway, collector and patron of the artist. They are also held in the permanent collections of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, the Kirkland Museum, Denver, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art, the Phoenix Art Museum, and the White House, Washington, DC. A retrospective exhibition of Paris Colorado pictures was presented at the Colorado Springs Museum in the early 1980’s

Credit where credit is due for their previous scholarship on the artist: Bernard Ewell, ASA, Patricia Trenton, and John Hazelhurst

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Bog #1, December 31st,2012

“Charles Partridge Adams, Rocky Mountain Majesty” opens at Denver Art Museum Sunday December 16th

First Ever and long overdue One Man Exhibition/ Retrospective of the works of this important and collectible late 19th, early 20 the century Colorado landscape painter

Congratulations and kudos to the curatorial staff of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum for mounting a fine small exhibition of oils and watercolors by Colorado’s favorite historic landscape painter from the old days,the widely collected, actively sought, and elevated to near god status in certain local art circles and dealer salons - Charles Partridge Adams, d. 1942.

Museum recognition of the importance and beauty of Adam’s work has certainly been a long time coming, for a person like the writer, who, as early as 1978, began to actively seek, advertise nationally for, and buy Adams oils and watercolors, recognizing that he was the primary guy, the quintessential native impressionist painter from the purple mountain majesty school. Very few people were listening at the time, other than a handful of old time Colorado collectors. The regional art collecting boom changed all that, and by the late 80’s as Adams, like all of the collectible dead white guys, became monetized. Mountain grandeur, scale and spatial recession, dramatic atmospherics, high key palette values and deft light handling, have all been my keywords.

The exhibit, comprised of 33 oils and watercolors from private collections and institutions, including he DAM itself, shows the stylistic range and evolution of the master, spanning from the tight, academic, and often tonal palette of his early though mid- career, works, to a more facile, modern, simplified, and higher key palette approach of his later work. Early in his career Adams was tied to the Barbizon traditions of landscape painting as espoused both by George Inness and his disciple and Adams’s mentor Helen Chain, and its evolved successor, Tonalism.

Platte River Sunset, oil 24 x 36 inches, Loo collection

The artist’s earlier works were often more somber, and with a limited palette range, including the Platte River sunsets which were very popular for him at the time. A wonderful, major example of that genre, probably the best one the writer has ever seen, is this 24x36 oil from the Kathy and Dusty Loo Collection , which was originally acquired by the writer from a California descendant of a member of the Hardy family, who ran a Colorado Springs branch of the Chain and Hardy bookstore, the establishment where Adams first worked and studied with proprietor Helen Chain in Denver.

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Bog #1, December 31st,2012

“Charles Partridge Adams, Rocky Mountain Majesty” opens at Denver Art Museum Sunday December 16th

First Ever and long overdue One Man Exhibition/ Retrospective of the works of this important and collectible late 19th, early 20 the century Colorado landscape painter

Congratulations and kudos to the curatorial staff of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum for mounting a fine small exhibition of oils and watercolors by Colorado’s favorite historic landscape painter from the old days,the widely collected, actively sought, and elevated to near god status in certain local art circles and dealer salons - Charles Partridge Adams, d. 1942.

Museum recognition of the importance and beauty of Adam’s work has certainly been a long time coming, for a person like the writer, who, as early as 1978, began to actively seek, advertise nationally for, and buy Adams oils and watercolors, recognizing that he was the primary guy, the quintessential native impressionist painter from the purple mountain majesty school. Very few people were listening at the time, other than a handful of old time Colorado collectors. The regional art collecting boom changed all that, and by the late 80’s as Adams, like all of the collectible dead white guys, became monetized. Mountain grandeur, scale and spatial recession, dramatic atmospherics, high key palette values and deft light handling, have all been my keywords.

The exhibit, comprised of 33 oils and watercolors from private collections and institutions, including he DAM itself, shows the stylistic range and evolution of the master, spanning from the tight, academic, and often tonal palette of his early though mid- career, works, to a more facile, modern, simplified, and higher key palette approach of his later work. Early in his career Adams was tied to the Barbizon traditions of landscape painting as espoused both by George Inness and his disciple and Adams’s mentor Helen Chain, and its evolved successor, Tonalism.

Platte River Sunset, oil 24 x 36 inches, Loo collection

The artist’s earlier works were often more somber, and with a limited palette range, including the Platte River sunsets which were very popular for him at the time. A wonderful, major example of that genre, probably the best one the writer has ever seen, is this 24x36 oil from the Kathy and Dusty Loo Collection , which was originally acquired by the writer from a California descendant of a member of the Hardy family, who ran a Colorado Springs branch of the Chain and Hardy bookstore, the establishment where Adams first worked and studied with proprietor Helen Chain in Denver.

Majestic View in the San Juans, Dines coll.

As his career evolved and he got a lot of on location painting under his belt, Adams’s artistic sensibilities evolved, his facility for saying more with less, and his palette brightened, the work took on a little more modern economy. Exemplifying the later work, the headliner picture, a magnificent large San Juan Mountain view from the Bruce and Dorothy Dines Collection, greets the visitor to the second floor gallery in the Hamilton Bldg. It’s a show stopper, and my favorite picture in the exhibit, as it really shows Adams on his game as the quintessential 19th cent. native impressionist painter of the Colorado high country. The painting is picturesque, grand in conception, painted with the fluid, facility and painterliness of an accomplished mature artist, and shows the high key palette, deft light handling, and skill in rendering atmospherics of a master.

Arapahoe Peaks, Autumn, Near Boulder, Neal R. Smith coll.

A second modern painting, “Arapahoe Peaks,Autumn, Near Boulder,” probably about 1918-1920, after he had tackled the subject probably thirty times previously from different perspectives and in varying seasonal and lighting conditions, is highlighted by strong coloration, simplified and suggestive landforms, and decisive light and shadow in the snowy peaks.

Spanish Peaks, Kirkland Musuem coll.

One of the writer’s long time personal favorite Adams subjects has always been the Spanish Peaks s.w. of Walsenburg, which Adams painted many times, from varying perspectives in different seasons, and, most often, portraying early morning or late afternoon as well as clearing storm. A number of these have figured in my own personal art dealing career, but none of the stunning quality of “Sunrise in Autumn on the Spanish Peaks from the Valley of Cucharas Creek, Vicinity of Walsenburg, Colorado,” a 24 x 36 oil recently acquired by and on loan from the Kirkland Museum of Denver. The combination of a lush autumnal palette with the pinks of sunrise, and the atmospherics at the base of the peaks, and the wonderful illusion of spatial recession from the creek in the foreground to the distant peaks, make this one of the show’s very best.

Other notable inclusions include a small but highly developed and very painterly treatment,” Autumn Lights and Shadows, Las Animas Canyon, Colorado,” from the Lewis Collection, and a much larger picture with a slightly different perspective of the subject, Mt. Aelous and Las Animas Canyon from the Loo Collection. The two are displayed side by side on a separate wall.

Autumn Lights and Shadows, Las Animas Canyon, Lewis coll., l, Mt. Aeolus and Las Animas Canyon, Loo. coll., r.

Autumn Hillside Sunset, Middle Park, Lewis coll.

One of the writer’s personal favorites, and perhaps the picture which, perhaps more effectively than any other in the collection best exemplifies Adams’ bravura handling of ephemeral mountain lighting effects, is “An Autumn Hillside Sunset, Middle Park,” a 16x24 oil also from the Lewis Collection. Probably from the early 90’s, the picture has a strong tonalist quality in the bottom 3/4 quadrant, and fairly crackles with light in the cloud filled sky.

There is an Adams picture for every taste in this highly recommended exhibit, from small tightly rendered watercolors to other mountain subjects in various styles. And, while this is by no means a definitive retrospective of the artist’s work, as arrangements for the inclusion of several other key paintings were not successful or finalized on a timely enough basis, and there are a few things which simply fill wall space, little more, the ten or so core works included provide more than adequate proof of the fact that Adams was Colorado’s most important late 19th and early 20th century landscape painter.

The Denver Art Museum has a four color exhibition monograph in preparation for publication on January 9th. Easy to visit while you’re waiting for your reservation slot for the Van Gogh exhibition, or right after you walk out, Rocky Mountain Majesty is on view in the Gates Family Gallery in the Dietler Gallery of Western American Art on the second floor of the Hamilton Building. The show is up ‘til september 8, 2013. Check back for further comments on the exhibition specifically and on C. P. A.

www.denverartmuseum.org

All images are courtesy of the Denver Art Museum, are each identified as to their respective owner lenders, and are included solely for informational purposes to supplement the above commentary. Photographed with an iPhone, and far from definitive, they’ll at least give the reader an idea of what to look for.

 

Post Office Box 200008 Denver, CO 80220

303-399-3119

nrsmith1@comcast.net