WOMEN ARTISTS OF NEW MEXICO FOUND INSPIRATION, OPPORTUNITY
“The Southwest gave me a whole new language, new vistas to paint,” said Henriette Wyeth, who moved to Taos, New Mexico in 1939. At the beginning of the 20th century, the isolated Santa Fe and Taos art colonies offered a fresh start for women artists who had struggled to find recognition back East. The Southwestern art community became a vanguard for women seeking a voice—a “new language.” Matthews Gallery’s May 8-31 exhibition NEW LANGUAGE, NEW VISTAS: Women Artists of New Mexico will tell the story of these bold artistic pioneers and their battle to reach new heights in American art.
“For all the social freedom these women found in the Southwest, it was still a struggle,” says gallery owner Lawrence Matthews. “Many of them worked odd jobs to subsidize the groundbreaking artwork they were creating. They deserve chapters in the art history books, and that’s the conversation we’re carrying forward.” Among the artists represented in the exhibition are Dorothy Eugenie Brett, Doris Cross, Janet Lippincott, Beatrice Mandelman and Agnes Sims.
Sims drew inspiration from the ancient language of New Mexico petroglyphs and new developments in abstract art in her paintings and sculptures, and also sold classical records, worked as a building contractor and opened a Canyon Road artist compound to make ends meet. Mandelman and Lippincott were some of the first abstract painters to arrive in New Mexico, and held their own against the strictly traditional landscape painters of that era.
Cross, who spent much of her life in New York and studied under abstract expressionist Hans Hoffman, came to New Mexico in 1972 and built a reputation as “the most avant-garde artist in Santa Fe.” Brett was a painter who grew up in Victorian England among the British royals, and accompanied British writer D.H. Lawrence on a visit to Mabel Dodge Lujan’s Taos home in 1924. Brett, Lujan and Frieda Lawrence became such close friends that they were known as “The Three Fates” in Taos social circles.
NEW LANGUAGE, NEW VISTAS will also tell the tales of Santa Fe and Taos luminaries who worked to support women artists, including Lujan, artist and curator Dorothy Morang and arts patron Mary Cabot Wheelwright.
“These women worked together and rose together,” says Matthews. “Their stories are beautifully intertwined, so bringing their artwork under the same banner elevates all of it.”