Taos has four art museums that are free Sundays to the people who live here. Lucky us. Last Sunday, with a bit of free time on my hands, I went to the Ernest L. Blumenschein Home and Museum.
Blumenschein, or “Blumy” as he was called, was one of the founders of the Taos Society of Artists a hundred years ago. He and fellow artist Bert G. Phillips stumbled upon Taos during a painting expedition when the wheel on their wagon broke. Blumenschein, who lost the toss, made the twenty-mile trek to town to get the wheel fixed. And that was the start of an intense period of art in Taos.
I hadn’t been to the Blumenschein museum in a while. But the events surrounding the anniversary — and interviews for stories I did with the artists’ descendants — inspired me to take another look. From those who knew him, Blumy was very sure of himself and his talents. He was competitive in whatever he did. (The museum has trophies he won playing tennis.) And he was a wonderful artist who captured the landscape and Native people of his time.
Blumenschein’s wife Mary and their daughter Helen were also artists. The museum, where they lived is filled with their furniture, belongings and their paintings and those of their colleagues. (Sorry, photos weren’t allowed.)
The museum’s current exhibit is: “The Founder’s Daughter, Prints by Helen G. Blumenschein and Friends.”
Helen gave the homestead and its furnishings to the Taos Historic Museums in 1966. Like the Couse-Sharp Historic Site, where two members of the Taos Society of Artists — I.E. Couse and Joseph Sharp — lived and worked, the Blumenschein museum gives visitors a feel for the time.
The Blumenscheins acquired the home in pieces from 1924 to 1931. It has adobe walls, vigas (log beams) and latilla (aspen pole) ceilings.
My favorite room was the studio with its large windows that capture natural light and high ceilings. A tall, wooden easel is marked with paint dropped from a brush. Here Blumy painted — yet another creative soul who found his way to Taos.
PHOTO ABOVE: That’s the exterior of the museum on Ledoux Street, the oldest in Taos. And here is a link to a story I did for The Taos News on the descendants: http://www.taosnews.com/lifestyle/article_2f78b83e-686c-11e5-8a2f-7bb4aecaa780.html