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SANTA FE FOCUS - AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 1999

 

THE VAN VECHTEN‑LINEBERRY TAOS ART MUSEUM
By SUZANNE DEATS

 


An hour's drive from Santa Fe.

This unique institution presents important American art to a worldwide audience. The history of art in New Mexico stretches back over a hundred years, well before the territory was granted statehood. It all started in Taos, when two well‑known east coast artists broke a wheel on the wagon in which they were traveling through the southwest. By the time it was repaired, they had fallen in love with the light, the land, the adobe architecture, and the people. They described the place to their colleagues in New York, and soon word spread far and wide. Almost a century after the first wave, in 1994, the Van Vechten‑Lineberry Taos Art Museum opened with a prize collection of paintings by all 19 Taos founders, all of whom had brought with them well‑established reputations. Many of the later, no less famous Taos artists are also represented.

A visitor to Santa Fe may experience this splendor simply by taking the hour's drive to Taos. One passes through the fruit orchards of the upper Rio Grande valley and winds along the river, then climbs to a point that affords a breathtaking view of the Rio Grande gorge. Ranchos de Taos, the first settlement along the road into Taos, is home to St. Francis de Assisi, the mostphotographed and painted church in America, if not the world. Continuing through the center of Taos, with its main plaza, shops, and galleries, one follows the signs toward Taos pueblo. At the exact point where the road forks to the right toward the pueblo, there is a long, high wall with immense blue spruce trees visible behind it, announcing the presence of the Van Vechten‑Lineberry Taos Art Museum. Driving through the gate, one enters another world. Dignified old buildings are set into the landscape like stone outcroppings. Silence prevails. It is as if an early Taos painting had come to life.

The museum does not dispel that illusion. The soaring lobby is the actual studio built by the late artist Duane Van Vechten and her mother, Fannie Van Vechten. in 1929. The big north window frames a spectacular view of Taos mountain. The former south windows are now the entrance to a
...

(cont.)...McGraw, Melissa Zink, Peter De La Fuente, Jeffrey Lawrence, and Gordon Brown. Painting is the predominant medium, but sculpture and jewelry are represented by two notable artists, Richard MacDonald and Tresa Vorenberg Hensley.

A great deal of care has gone into this exhibition as in every other aspect of the museum. Several of the pieces on display have been created on a heroic scale, and all of them are representative of the individual artist's most definitive work. Visitors willbe able to absorb and reflect on the sheer magnitude of art being produced in the United States today, and they will do so in a museum that is the essence of the American character.

It is singularly fitting that this landmark exhibition should be gathered into the galleries of this quiet, grand museum.After all, it is located in Taos, that tiny village where American artists converged a century ago and put the American southwest on the map for the first time, and where later
American and European artists consolidated the reputation of New Mexico as an important art venue. The Van VechtenLineberry Taos Art Museum brings the story full circle, welcoming visitors and inviting them to participate in the magic.

The Van Vechten‑Lineberry Taos Art Museum is located at 501 Paseo del Pueblo Norte Road in Taos. Hours: 11:00‑400 Wednesday‑Friday and 1.30‑4:00 Saturday and Sunday. (505) 758‑2690.

 
 
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