I’ve been amusing myself this winter by multiple visits to the Art Museum. I bought a membership last April right before they started charging admission – and it’s been a great investment, especially when it’s too cold to do anything outside. And when it does warm up, the museum also has a nature park of over 35 acres to romp through. This is all introduction to tell you I have more woodcuts by Gustave Baumann to show you today. I hope you’re not tired of seeing his work. I’ve become somewhat obsessed with his life and art and have made a couple of trips to see his exhibit. We’ve covered his time in Nashville, IN, his travels out west, and today I’ll show some of his work inspired by his home. After a brief stay in Taos, Baumann decided it was too tourist-oriented to live there and settled in the smaller historic town of Santa Fe.
From 1918 until his death in the early 70s, he lived and painted in the southwest. He was forever inspired by the dramatic landscape and vivid colors, as well as the rich cultural history of the area. He was an avid lover and supporter of Native American culture. Hidden away at the base of the Frijoles Canyon in the woodcut above, are the remains of a pueblo village and a traditional Native American processional. One of the guides told us that Baumann loved to frame his paintings with a tiny horizontal stream of action in front of a huge landscaped background. That’s certainly evident in this piece.
Although these scenes are inspired by Santa Fe and surrounding regions of the southwest, I was struck by how similar they are to my beloved Colorado Rockies. Ponderosa pines like these are a common sight. I’ve often tried to frame scenes like these in my own pictures of the mountains. The sunrise breaking over the mountain crests and flooding the valley with light is breath-taking.
Another scene common in the Rockies (and apparently in Santa Fe too) is a great thunderstorm rolling in during early summer. These storms never fail to impress me with a sense of awe (and sometimes fear, if hail is involved). As the rains taper down the sky remains a deep slate gray, but the sun starts to filter through and turns all the land golden, even while glistening raindrops still fall. It’s one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever witnessed and I love how Baumann obviously felt wonder at the same weather patterns too.
This is the last woodcut I will show you from the exhibit (there maybe another post on his other pursuits). It is my very favorite and I’ve stared at it for long moments, willing the picture to come alive and suck me into it (sort of like a Narnian experience). “Mountain Pool” was recreated from a sheltered valley in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, but again, it is strongly reminiscent of the Rockies. I love this woodcut so much – it really feels like a doorway to another world. When I look at it, I feel the sun and breeze on my skin, smell the sweet grass and pine, and hear birds overhead singing with the gushing water. Just looking at it pierces my soul with fierce joy and homesickness. I think to some extent all of Baumann’s work has that effect – making me homesick for a world I’ve never known – but this piece is his capstone, him magnum opus that perfectly captures his heart and love for wild places.
Blessings to you,