The Taos Six, members of the Taos Society of Artists, pictured in 1920.

Enduring Classics

The Timeless Appeal Of Historic Works By Early-20th-century Legends

Author Unknown

February/March 2014

In 1893, artist Joseph Henry Sharp visited Taos to illustrate a piece for Harper’s Weekly on Native American life at Taos Pueblo. Fascinated by Indian culture since he was a boy, Sharp shared his enthusiasm for the landscape and the people he encountered with Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips, two artists he studied alongside in Paris. In 1915, the three men, along with three other painters, formed the Taos Society of Artists, a group whose work helped build Taos’s reputation as an art colony of international importance.

A few years after the formation of the Taos Society, six artists undertook a similar endeavor in Santa Fe, establishing what’s informally referred to as the Santa Fe Art Colony and laying the foundation for Canyon Road to become one of the best-known artist destinations in the world. In 1921, another group of bold young artists joined forces and became known as Los Cinco Pintores (The Five Painters). All three groups succeeded in putting Northern New Mexico on the artistic map and in the art history books forever. Their work—which celebrates the region’s people, lifestyle, and landscape—endures today and continues to define the Santa Fe area’s unique artistic legacy.

A painting of cottonwoods in fall.
Sheldon Parsons, "Pojoaque, New Mexico," oil on canvas, 38 x 50 inches. Courtesy of Nedra Matteucci Galleries

Above: In the early 20th century, artists Carlos Vierra, Gerald R. Cassidy, Theodore Van Soelen, and Sheldon Parsons (below, from left, in Santa Fe’s La Fonda on the Plaza ca. 1925), along with John Sloan and Randall Davey (not pictured), developed a thriving Santa Fe art colony whose epicenter was Canyon Road. The artists’ activity and output laid the groundwork for the city to legally designate Canyon Road a “residential arts and crafts zone” in 1962.

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