Saturday, December 16, 2023

Gene Kloss (1903-1996) A Printmaker in Taos

Gene Kloss (1903-1996) Alice Geneva Glasier

Gene Kloss 
“Enduring Sanctuary” 12” x 15”, frame size 21” x 23” (etching, Drypoint & aquatint) 1973, 
50 of the edition of 50
$8,000. SOLD
Thousands of artists have drawn or painted the Ranchos Church, the huge adobe buttresses a unique composition. PK

In 1925 the newly wed Gene & Phillips Kloss honeymooned in New Mexico. “The first site of the vast Taos Plateau left us breathless.” Phillips. In Taos Canyon, Gene “did innumerable paintings and drawings” and produced etchings on a small portable press (a sixty-pound machine) which she had Phillips set up on a tree stump near their campsite. The rare examples of Watercolors, Pen & Ink, Drawings and even Oil Paintings show how immensely talented she was, but Etching (and the variations of etching she developed) was her preferred almost obsessive way of creating art. From my own personal experience at SMFA I understand just how obsessed printmakers can become.

It is through her etchings that Kloss shines as a master of light & darkness, setting the stage onto her rectangular shaped paper surface. Looking at the etchings of Rembrandt, you’ll clearly see just how much of a master of the art form of etching she became. Kloss prints glow and shine through the darkness, the drawing and tonal quality of her hatch marks are precise and complicated. Her forced perspective will draw you into the scene allowing you to be a part of it as if you were witness to a moment in time.  

Gene Kloss' work was exhibited in Paris at the Musee Jeu de Paume in 1938, as part of a leading New Mexican artist exhibition alongside Ernest Blumenschein, Georgia O'Keeffe and John Sloan.

The Klosses attended ceremonial dances at Taos Pueblo so regularly that once when they missed one, their Pueblo friends sent someone to the Kloss home to make sure they were alright. Kloss never owned a camera, but constantly sketched and relied on an impeccable visual memory. “Gene makes memory sketches of indian activities from her own point of view, with respect for the unknowing Indian point of view.” Phillips Kloss

“Her very best work gives us a chance to be in that moment with her. She purposely priced her work, under market value. She wanted to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Gene depicted the life of the people as she saw it at the time (1930’s). In some ways she was capturing something that had been around for centuries. What she saw and what she recorded in her own memories, she passed down to us. Taos has always been, and still is, a place where women who happen to be artists got more attention than other artists (colonies). Taos was a place where artistic talent really was appreciated.” David Witt, for Colores, PBS 10, 23, 2021

Many women artists find a great lack of interest and respect towards their respect work, Kloss used "Gene" (a masculine form of Geneva) when signing her artworks, to avoid prejudices of gender. Since 2019 much like Hilma af Klint, museums, curators and the public alike are searching for that extraordinary ‘undiscovered’ female artist, Kloss has been ‘hiding’ in plain sight here in Taos for almost 100 years.

“What Gene Kloss can catch in metal and oils, Phillips Kloss grasps and paints in words.” Hal Johnson, for Berkley Daily Gazette 11, 14, 1942

‘The Woman in the Woods’ Phillips Kloss

’tis not the grove green hills you love nor blue-green sea,

’tis not the lonely luring trail, ’tis She

and puts the verse in water, rock, and tree.

’tis not the search for the truth that makes your life seem real

nor sense of power. ’tis love’s ideal

that gives the purpose to your thought, the zeal

which even single souls vicarious feel.

Gene Kloss 
“Forsaken Church (on the Edge of the Great Plains) 9 7/8” x 17 7/8” (etching, drypoint) 1979, 
9 of the edition of 25
$3,600.…untouched by vandals, it simply had to be sketched. We didn’t inquire its history. It is a sermon to space. PK

Gene Kloss
“Approach of the Victors” 11 3/8” x 7 7/8”, frame size 14.5” x 17.5” (drypoint) 1947, 
Proof from the edition of 10
Gene Kloss 
“Dance of Domingo” 10 5/8” x 13 5/8”, frame size 18” x 22” (drypoint & aquatint) 1955, 
Proof of the edition of 40
Gene Kloss 
“Taos Eagle Dancers” 10.75” x 13.75”, frame size 20” x 23” (drypoint & aquatint) 1955, 
Proof of the edition of 35
$3,000.The Eagle dance simulates the movements of the great bird beating its wings to rise from the ground, lifting in the air, soaring in the sky.” PK
Gene Kloss 
“Watching the Clowns” 11 7/8” x 8 7/8”, frame size 17” x 21” (original watercolor) 1954
Gene Kloss 
“Rio Grande Canyon (slide trail)” 13.75” x 9.75”, frame size 27” x 20” (original Pen & Ink Drawing) 1936
$3,000.The basaltic Taos river gorge drops into the basaltic Rio Grande Gorge, a ledge road hanging over a precipice once the main road between Santa Fe and Taos. You went up in low gear and down in low gear. You hugged the inside rut when the road was icy hoping your car wouldn’t decide to make a ski slide out of it. PK
Gene Kloss
“Singers Over the Bridge” 10 7/8” x 13 7/8”, frame size 22” x 19.5” (etching, drypoint) 1961, 
48 of the edition of 50
Available through Wilder Nightingale Fine Art, Taos

Gene Kloss
“Zero Weather” 8 3/4” x 14 3/4”, frame size 23.5” x 19.5” (drypoint, aquatint) 1960, 36 of the edition of 50
Available through Wilder Nightingale Fine Art, Taos

‘Winter Sonnet’ Phillips Kloss (1902-1995)

When Taos was Taos years yond ago,

valley and mountains sky-enchanted,

streams aflow with melting snow,

fields sheen green new-ploughed new-planted,

there you could live in an ageless age,

live in the cedars, live in the sage,

cedar and sage, wild rose, wild plum,

Indian song and Indian drum.

’tis not to deny the mind’s delight -

imagine, explore, invent, create -

’tis living more natural, primitive, right

fulfilling the faith that you advocate.

Don’t seek tomorrow, go back there

in the pine, in the spruce, in the balsam air,

in the cedars and sage, wild rose, wild plum,

fear nothing that will come.

(Poetry works from “Taos Chants” by Phillips Kloss 1974)

Gene Kloss
“Magpies & Red Tailed Hawk” 14 7/*” x 8 7/8”, frame size 17” x 21” (etching, drypoint) 1962, Proof from the edition of 50
Available through Wilder Nightingale Fine Art, Taos

They ganged up on him, yak yak sacked at him for trespassing on their territory. He regarded them with imperturbable disdain. Handsome birds, black and white and iridescent green, they made lively patterns in the stark trees. PK

Gene Kloss 
Taos Devil Dancers 20” x 22” Giclee
$100. (unframed)
Partly an entertainment dance, partly an exorcise dance, the Devil Dance is put on by a group going from house to house. PK

Gene Kloss

“Morning Worship” 22” x 18.5” Giclee

$100. (framed) SOLD

Gene Kloss An American Printmaker, A Raisonne
2 Volume set MIB, 
written by Gene Sanchez

Gene Kloss Poster, framed $75.

Photograph by Dick Spas of the Gallery A storefront on Kit Carson Road

“It was about 1937… when I first saw her etchings, I remember I stopped by La Fonda Hotel (Taos) and her etchings were spread out in a back room. There was one - ‘Snow and Adobe’  (1934) - I had to have it. I had 68 cents with me and Dixie Yapple, who ran the gallery (Taos Heptagon Gallery), said ‘Why don’t you go ahead and get it. You can pay a little at a time.’ You know that was my grocery money, but I bought that etching for $5.” Mary Sanchez, from Pasatiempo, Santa Fe New Mexican 7, 7-13, 2000 

“Kloss was amazingly humble and talented. She set out to capture the images and history of New Mexico and accomplished it like few others. The quality and integrity of her work is hard to compete with.” Jules Sanchez, from Taos Magazine, May-June 2005

Gallery A scenes at 1996 opening for Gene Kloss Works of Art

Gallery A was the exclusive dealer for the artworks of Gene Kloss for over 50 years. The artworks shown here by Gene Kloss are the last of the Sanchez family collection the former owners of Gallery A. 

Two Graces in the Taos historic district at 105 Barela Lane is the exclusive representative for these last few prints from the Sanchez/Gallery A collection. We will have this selection available at the gallery from December 16, 2023 - January 3, 2024, after this time period the artworks will be available on a by appointment only schedule.

Christmas Card of Enduring Sanctuary in Snow
Mezzotint printed by Bill Jackson

Prints by Taos Artists also available from the collection of the Sanchez Estate 

Emil Bisttram 
“Ranchos Church” Lithograph 12” x 18” 

Eric Gibberd 
Linocut Taos Pueblo 17” x 20” 

Pat Dagnon 
“Dance” Crane Etching 15” x 12” 

Pat Dagnon 

“Unison” Cranes Etching 15” x 12” 


Joseph Imhoff
Thank You Lithograph

Janet Lippincott 
Portrait 1985 35” x 27” 

Janet Lippincott 

“Blue Still Life” 34” x 27” 


Nicolai Fechin Portfolio of 16 Prints 

Nicolai Fechin “Balinese Girl” 21” x 17” print signed in plate 

Nicolai Fechin “Balinese Man” 23” x 20” print signed in plate 


Nicolai Fechin “Pueblo Man” 23” x 20” print 


Barbara Latham
“Mexican Kitchen” print

Howard Cook
“Tio Vivo” print 1950

Ted Egri 
Lithograph Church w Steeple 9.5” x 12” 

Japanese print on rice paper
Ando Hiroshige


Sunday, June 6, 2021

Ila McAfee Miniature Portrait Taos Pueblo Man

 Ila McAfee (Turner) 1897-1995

Studied in Los Angeles, CA, Chicago, IL, New York, NY, moved to Taos, NM in 1928. She remained in Taos for twenty-five years before moving back to Colorado. She is noted for her paintings of animals, horses in particular.

A 3”x3” in a 4 5/8”x5 1/8” frame, an oil painting portrait on canvas of a Taos Pueblo gentleman. Sgrafitto signature on the front and her written signature on the back brown paper.

Note the earring and braids tied in red (denoting a particular society group that this man belonged to), with Taos Pueblo and blue mountain in background. Dated to 1930, signed on front and notation on back. The man wears a robe (an indication of stature) of green, the color of life, renewal, nature and energy, associated with growth, harmony, safety and the environment and around him. 

Portraits and the portrait miniatures of the people in Taos are some of Ila’s best work, yet still she was known as the painter of horses. Most portraits are on simple backgrounds. This rare Portrait of a Taos Pueblo Man by Ila McAfee includes views of the Taos Blue Mountain and the Taos Pueblo in the background. 

From Ila's book "Indians, Horses, Hills, et cetera..." : 'Sun Lightning' was his indian name. I would meet him out in the sage and sun and there, wrapped in a bright colorful blanket, he sat on his horse. I painted him with a mountain or prairie as a background in the center of a beautiful setting. People from Taos Pueblo have identified him as Joe ‘Sunhawk’ Sandoval, along with pointing out the hoop earring and red colored ribbon wrapping his braids. The book includes this illustration of the man she refers to.

In a sketch by Ernest Blumenschein a similar looking Pueblo Man is depicted.

Ila met her husband to be Elmer Page Turner (yes, read it again ‘Elmer page turner’) through art classes at the Chicago Art Institute in 1920, whom she married in 1926. Ila and Elmer designed and helped build their home on what was then known as Armory Street, now Civic Plaza Drive, which was finished by the end of 1928. Named the “White Horse Studio” it is an assuming two story house nestled into now a busy street. It is thought that Ila carved the animal figures into the lintels over the exterior door and windows. A viewing of the videos Ila McAfee’s Trained Cats in particular Sanka the Siamese, will give you an inside look into their home.

Little known and seemingly forgotten about McAfee is that she designed fabrics, wrapping paper, dishes, calendars and illustrated the cover of “How to Draw Horses” by Walter Foster

Ila McAfee is included in the book “Taos and its Artists” Mabel Dodge Luhan 1947. As one of the earliest painters in Taos, she is considered today one of the very best. Voted Taos Artist of the Year in 1981.

This Painting has been SOLD

Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Friendship Christmas Trees of Taos created by Dorothy Benrimo (1903–1977)

The Friendship Christmas Trees of Taos created by Dorothy Benrimo (1903–1977)

Dorothy Benrimo & Claire Morrill admiring their Friendship Tree, photo by Regina Cooke

I first discovered the ‘Taos Friendship Trees’ in a 2013 exhibit at the Harwood Museum of Art, Taos. On display was a miniature Christmas tree covered in tiny objects including little replica ‘books’ by local authors Mabel Dodge Luhan “Winter in Taos” & “Edge of Taos Dessert”, D.H. Lawrence “Lady Chatterly’s Lover” & “Women in Love”, Frank Waters “The Man Who Killed the Deer”, and Dorothy Brett “Lawrence & Brett” among many others. The tree was labeled as being made by Dorothy Brett or at least once had been owned by Brett and gifted to Lucy & Burt Harwood. The tree, which is the most highly decorated of the few I’ve seen, stood out in a special way and I wanted to know more about it. Through further research we now know these as the Friendship Trees created by Dorothy Benrimo. I’m also told that a now long gone shop once on Kit Carson Road in Taos may have sold the Friendship trees to the public.

Once owned by Dorothy Brett, this friendship tree is in the Harwood Museum Collection

A few years went by, then one day I discovered a similar tree in a random box in a garage, the box was full of bits and pieces that had fallen off the tree but I recognized it as being similar to the ‘Brett’ tree in the Harwood Collection. It makes sense that through the many years the two Dorothy B’s of Taos (Benrimo & Brett) would become interchanged with one another. The music box the tree had been attached to had been smashed due to poor packing, it could not be saved, but with all the little bits and pieces that had fallen off I proceeded to glue them into place. Remounted anew onto a vintage round base the tree once again came to life. The fragility of these trees keeps me from storing ours away after each Christmas season.

The Benrimo Friendship Christmas Tree in our personal collection

The trees are covered sometimes quite fully, sometimes sparsely with little toys and mementos collected during a years time, Cracker Jack toys, Tinykins Hannah-Barbera cartoon characters, birds, Santas, Reindeer, tiny Christmas balls and gift wrapped packages all in place. 

Not as ornate but with working Music Box, Friendship Christmas Tree by Dorothy Benrimo

Recently another of these friendship trees became available (I’ve had three different ones, I always keep my eyes open for them) which I purchased immediately. This one was little off kilter as it sat on the music box, but the music box actually worked, it is mesmerizing to behold while it spins and plays Jingle Bells. Soon afterwards we discovered a piece written by longtime Taos bookshop owner Claire Morrill in her must read masterpiece tribute “A Taos Mosaic” of 1973. 

"A Taos Mosaic" these Hardcover books are currently available at Two Graces, 

without dust jacket $20., with dust jacket $30., with dust jacket signed by Claire Morrill $40.,

with dust jacket in broadart protective cover signed by Claire Morrill $45.,

with dust jacket in broadart protective cover signed by both Claire Morrill and photographer Laura Gilpin $50.

In the book she describes the tree and how it came to be, I have included excerpts here:

“A Taos Mosaic, Portrait of a New Mexico Village” Claire Morrill with photographs by Laura Gilpin, University of New Mexico Press, 1973

(excerpts from pages 104-105)

“…I guess the thing that will best show the special flavor of Taos happenings is my own little Christmas Tree, which I have only because I happened to be standing in the right place to be struck by this benevolent streak of lightning. It came about… through an instinctive and typical Taos response to what Lawrence Clark Powell would call ‘an act of enchantment’.

I am the eighth Taoseno who… has been the recipient of one of these jewel-like miniature trees inspired and engineered by Dorothy Benrimo. Dorothy, whose late husband was the artist Thomas Benrimo, is a Taos designer and silversmith of such distinction that her work has toured the country in month long showings at galleries and museums under the sponsorship of the Smithsonian Institution.

At a friend’s house I was engrossed in admiration of the latest miniature tree she had done when Dorothy came by.

“It’s enchanting,” I said.

She gave me a quick look, “Well”, she said, “I think it’s your turn next year.”

“How do you decide it?” I asked.

“I don’t,” she said. “It just happens. It’s a happening.”

I was enchanted all over again and equally appalled. For where did all these exquisite miniatures and marvelous little decorations come from? How many would there have to be?

She was quite casual about it. “Oh, there have to be six or seven hundred. You pick them up yourself all year and I will, too, and then before Christmas I’ll send out postcards to your friends, people you know well, to anyone we think would like to bring in some little thing. And then some day in December a few of us will get together and have dinner and trim the tree.”

“Six or seven hundred things,” I said, faintly.

“Oh, sure,” she said, “don’t worry about it.”

But I did worry about it. All year I hunted for miniatures, a half inch to three-quarter inch in size, and they seemed to elude me. I began to alert close friends and my sister Anne, who came up with wonderful little treasures, tiny mushrooms and ladybugs, ducks, chickens, and geese.

…eleven of us who gathered to trim the tree included a friend of Lib White’s from Norway who, though a complete stranger to me, had spent most of the past week mounting tiny sequins onto the tips of small weed sprigs and with paints transforming dime-store angels into little celestial musicians.

Dorothy had brought the fifteen-inch artificial tree, which she had mounted on a round tray revolving above a music box. With tinsel and glue the trimming began. There seemed no end to the wonderful miniatures coming out of their boxes: tiny original Taos paintings, sculptures, ink drawings, weavings, and santos; animals, birds, flowers, and insects; miniature train and painted Sicilian cart; bells and musical instruments; typewriters, midget dictionary, and replica of the front page of the New York Times; stereo records and books (one of them entitled Inside Taos by Claire Morrill); and dozens of other things. kenny Anderson, who was seven, had parted with one of his real treasures, a tiny hot dog, and my great-niece, Barbara, had written a distinguished little poem on a tree-shaped paper.

We eight Taosenos who have these exquisite trees don’t wait until Christmas to bring them out, admire them, and show them off.”

Photograph of a Cow Skull on a shed at the Benrimo Estate

The following is most likely a newspaper clipping from the Taos News of which is a photograph and report by Regina Cooke:

Dorothy Benrimo and Claire Morrill stand beside the friendship Christmas Tree made for Miss Morrill by Mrs. Benrimo and trimmers, Spud Johnson, Milford Greer, Robert D. Ray, R.C. Van Arsdel, Otto Pitcher, Elizabeth White, Vera Simonsson and Genevieve Janssen. Mrs. Benrimo began working with friendship trees some years ago when living in New York, and since then has made thirty or forty. The trees are mounted over a music box and are trimmed with tiny items from over the world given by friends of the recipient. Mis Morrill’s tree contains countless gifts from seventy-five persons, among these paintings by Milford Greer, Robert Ray, and Lib White, and a book of sketches by Spud Johnson. Jewelry, Angels, creche figures, Santas and animals are of the varied items decorating the green artificial tree covered over with yards of tinsel.

Camposanto de Santa Rita Bernal, Serafina

Camposanto Viejo de Costilla

A Straw Inlay Cross made by Dorothy Benrimo in the Spanish Colonial style, Harwood Museum Collection
Part of the Benrimo collection of retablos once on the wall of her home
Interior of the Benrimo Home as it once was

Camposanto Cemetery posts which were once at the Benrimo home

Camposanto Cross once at the Benrimo home

A group of Camposanto Ornamental Wooden Cemetery Spades purchased from the Benrimo home

Dorothy Benrimo was known as a pioneering figure in the fine art of jewelry making. Some of her designs are thought to include theological references, but they also make use of her knowledge and inspiration from Mayan and Aztec cultures and of course her deep understanding of the Tiffany studio. She would refer to her jewelry as having an emphatic depth. Benrimo studied at Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburgh, graduating in 1925. She received Tiffany Foundation Fellowships in 1924, 1925 & 1928 and worked at the Tiffany estate to further her knowledge and research. She taught at Carnegie Melon and later at Pratt University up until she and her husband moved to Taos, New Mexico in 1939. Benrimo was a collector of northern New Mexico Spanish Colonial Santos (Retablos & Bultos) and documented the crosses of the Camposantos though her photographs which were published in book form with a forward by Rebecca Salsbury James and notes from E. Boyd the curator of the Spanish Colonial department of the Museum of New Mexico. The photographs were exhibited in 1966 at the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art. She was one of the few women artists active before 1950 to enjoy a successful career in the arts. Jewelry by Benrimo is difficult to come by, we have had one necklace by her and I've seen one other.

Dorothy & Thomas Benrimo at their home in Ranchos de Taos

Dorothy and Thomas Benrimo must have been true assets to the Taos arts community, their spirit shines to this day through their acts of enchantment. 

As Freida Lawrence once wrote to Dorothy: "Your letter was one of the gayest I ever had in my long life.”