Serendipity in Taos

By Brown, Margaret L. | Southwest Art, September 1998 | Go to article overview

Serendipity in Taos


Brown, Margaret L., Southwest Art


A hundred years ago this month, two young artists named Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips were on their way to Mexico from Denver, CO, when their wagon wheel broke about 20 miles north of Taos, NM. A coin toss determined that Blumenschein would take the wheel into town for repair while Phillips stayed with the wagon. Blumenschein, enchanted by the landscape and its Native American inhabitants, later described his two-day trip as "the most impressive journey of my life." Phillips was similarly enthralled. The two painters, who had lived in New York, studied in Paris, and were on their way to adventure south of the border, discovered the inspiration they were seeking in Taos.

The "broken-wheel incident" marked the beginning of the Taos art colony, for Phillips remained there for most of his life. Blumenschein stayed only six weeks but later returned to settle there too. In 1915, the two artists, along with Joseph Sharp, Oscar E. Berninghaus, E.I. Couse, and W. Herbert Dunton, formed the Taos Society of Artists. Since Taos had no art galleries at the time and tourists had yet to flood the town, the society arranged exhibitions in museums and galleries across the country.

In this issue, Michael Grauer, curator of art at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, TX, writes about Texans' interest in these early Taos artists. …

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