Oral History Summer Series at the Harwood

Through a variety of avenues, the Harwood Museum of Art has developed innovative ways of increasing accessibility to and participation with their collections.

Oral History Series

Ted Egri, screen shot taken from the film series

Screening at the Harwood on Fridays at 1pm through September 8th, the Oral History Series is a collection of videographed interviews, primarily of Taos-area artists. The Taos Oral History Project started as a way of documenting the lives, works, and ideas of the Taos Moderns, with the first 8 interviews recorded in June of 2000. Conducted from 2000 to 2009, there are a total of 44 interviews with artists, writers, and other individuals who contributed to culture and arts in Taos.

The Oral History Project originated in 1999 as the brain child of Douglas Dreishpoon, Chief Curator Emeritus at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. Dreishpoon developed the set of questions used as a baseline for each of the interviews, and he conducts the eye-opening interviews with each of the artists. In 2011, Dreishpoon and The Mandelman-Ribak Foundation collaborated on a film project, The Remarkable Women of Taos, developed from Oral History Project interviews.

Agnes Martin, 1955, photograph. Photo by Mildred Tolbert. Gift of Gus Foster. Courtesy of the Harwood Museum of Art.

Each screening of an Oral History Series interview is the perfect complement to a visit to the Harwood Museum of Art. The videos, which run about an hour, are being shown in the Arthur Bell Auditorium, leaving museum goers to watch an interview in its entirety or to wander in and out as they wish.

These videos balance out two-dimensional art presented in the Harwood’s summer exhibition The Errant Eye: Portraits in a Landscape. Works in this exhibition highlight that artwork always occurs in a specific landscape, not in a vacuum. As the Harwood website states, “A portrait, then, is not simply a likeness. It is a figure in space.  A portrait unfolds in a landscape. It is a narrative.” So it is with the Oral History Series interviews, where it is clear that these are not artists who worked in a vacuum, but artists who worked specifically in this incredible environment we call Taos. By necessity, their location affected their work. As Amy Rankin, Coordinator of Public Programs at the Harwood, said, “Public programs [such as the Oral History Series] are another facet of information about the art and history of Taos, about the community. People gain more experience than simply going through the museum.”

Upcoming Oral History Presentations:

July 21st – Malcolm Brown
July 28th – Rosa Ellis Clark
August 4th – Jenny Vincent
August 11th – John DePuy
August 18th – Mildred Tolbert
August 25th – Ted Egri
September 1st – Robert Ray
September 8th – Jim Wagner

All videos will play at 1pm on Fridays and run for about an hour.

The interviews are courtesy of The Beatrice Mandelman-Louis Ribak Collection, Special Collections and Center for Southwest Research, and the University of New Mexico Libraries.

Jim Wagner: Headful of Color, 2010, acrylic on canvas. Gift of Gus Foster. Photo courtesy Harwood Museum of Art.

But that’s not the only way the Harwood is coming into the 21st century.

Harwood Selfies

These days, one need not get an MFA to create masterful portraits—in the form of selfies. As the Harwood website proclaims, “Your selfie belongs in a museum. The selfie is the cutting edge evolution of the self-portrait.” Now through September 17, 2017, the Harwood wants you to send them your favorite selfies (up to 5 per person).

The selfies on display at the museum are another great complement to The Errant Eye exhibition, up now through September.

It’s this focus on multi-dimensionality that makes the Harwood a contemporary museum. “It’s about keeping our traditions—and extending them,” said Matt Thomas, Collections Manager at the Harwood.

Click here for more information on the Harwood Selfies, or use #HarwoodSelfies

To submit a selfie to the Harwood, email Matt Thomas an image file to [email protected]. You are not required to answer all of the questions about your selfie listed on the website, but you are welcome to.

Online Collection: My Harwood

Last but certainly not least, the Harwood offers community members the opportunity to build their own personal Harwood collection from the more general museum collection.

You can visit the online collection at http://collections.harwoodmuseum.org/. Click on the My Harwood link at the top of the page, and register to get signed in.

You can make your very own collection of works from the Harwood collection and share it on social media, use it for research, have fun with it!


Taken together, the Oral History Series, The Errant Eye exhibition, Harwood Selfies, and My Harwood are summer projects worth checking out and participating in. After all, a modern museum is all about accessibility and participation, and the Harwood is cultivating both in spades.

For more information:
Harwood Museum of Art
575.758.9826, ext. 109