“…and yet the great blue wall of the Sangre de Cristo range seems as near and as far as it had in the morning. It was as though we could not get near it … In the blue evening smoke of the two villages, Taos Pueblo and Taos looked hopelessly small and forgotten.”
(Frederic Remington, 1902)
DIVERGENT WORKS – In his 1963 essay, “The American Sublime,” art critic Lawrence Alloway writes of the Abstract Expressionist recourse to the ancient critical category of the Sublime in the paintings of Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, and Mark Rothko, heralded by Newman’s 1948 essay, “The Sublime is Now.” Alloway traces their embrace of this aesthetic concept to the 18th century Romantic reprise of the Sublime’s “momentous and powerful” qualities, in which the pleasure from nature’s beauty is accompanied by a sense of awe, fear or dread, “solitude, silence, and infinity.”
The artist émigrés to Taos did not bring this notion of the sublime—they found it, rooted in the landscape and its ancient Native American and Hispanic cultures that for centuries have shaped an overarching narrative for Taos and northern New Mexico. Taos, as physical place, has been both matrix and metaphor of what became, over the course of the twentieth century, an abiding aesthetic for successive migrations of modernists. Then, as now, this mingling of sublime and humble both expressed and informed the critical issues that each generation of artists brought to the region.
This distinct sense of place—a paradox of high and low styles—grounds the historically diverse artistic styles and cultural currents evolved over an entire century of Taos art, providing the aesthetic continuity of the wide range of works in the Harwood collections.
Divergent Works features artists pursuing very different styles—sublime and humble—while subscribing to this subtending Taos aesthetic. The severe geometry and aggressive decoration of Ronald Davis’s levitating forms in large resin-fiberglass reliefs and acrylics on canvas; the lyrical abstraction of Paul Pascarella’s New Moon series; the quirky pop icons of Jami Porter Lara’s fired-clay plastic containers; the epic imagery of Sam Scott’s Thunder in the Mountains I and Deep October Mountain II. These are divergent works that converge in the unique high desert aesthetic of Taos and northern New Mexico.