In Contemporary Rhythm

The Art of Ernest L. Blumenschein

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 This exhibition will next be shown at the Phoenix Art Museum, March 15 – June 14, 2009.

The Denver Art Museum celebrates the art of Ernest L. Blumenschein with a temporary exhibition showing through February 8, 2009. With 66 paintings, sketches and illustrations this is the largest and most comprehensive assemblage of work by the noted Western artist.

In 1898, at the age of 24 Blumenschein and fellow artists Bert G. Phillips were on their way from Denver to New Mexico when the wheel of their wagon broke in the rutted road north of Taos. After losing a coin toss Blumenschein set out with the broken wheel on the 20-mile walk into town. After repairs were made they decide to stay in the area to sketch and paint. “I saw whole paintings perfectly organized and ready to paint,” Blumenschein wrote.

Nearly every summer Blumenschein returned to northern New Mexico until he and his family permanently moved to Taos in 1919. Blumenschein and Phillips were among the founders of the original Taos Society of Artists. The group worked to promote Taos and art of the American West to audiences and patrons in the East and Europe.

The current exhibition includes early works as a student in Paris, as a professional illustrator and his evolving view of the landscape and peoples of the West. Notes included in the show lead the viewer into greater understanding of the artist and social and cultural issues influencing his work. Free guided tours are offered Tuesday through Friday at 2pm, Saturday and Sunday at 3pm.

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Bob and I visited the exhibit this weekend. While we’d seen several of the paintings in other museums there were many totally new to us, showing a broad range of style and technique. The Denver Art Museum, Albuquerque Museum of Art and History and the Phoenix Art Museum organized the exhibition, drawing paintings from private collections as well as major museums. The comprehensive book, In Contemporary Rhythm: The Art of Ernest L. Blumenschein was a must have for our art library. Before the collection leaves Denver I want to make it back for one of the guided tours.

 When You Go: Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, Denver, 720-865-5000. The Blumenschein Exhibition is on the first floor of the Hamilton Building. Check the website for hours and ticket prices, admission to the museum includes In Contemporary Rhythm.

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