September 14, 2012 at 11:58 AM

Pablita Velarde Museum to open

“Santa Fe's newest museum opens to the public…”

By Tom Maguire

Culture Vulture

Tom Maguire is a musician, arts supporter and a guy who travels the Southwest in a 13’ Scamp trailer, because he couldn’t figure out how the tent poles went together.

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Celebrating the creative powers of North American indigenous women, this new museum, named for the painter who opened the door for Native women artists, is dedicated to the painters, potters, sculptors, weavers, actresses, dancers, writers, singers, poets, film makers and others, whose voices have achieved a volume deserving a museum of their own.

Artist Margarete Bagshaw, Velarde's granddaughter and a founding force behind the new museum, had this to say about the influence of Native women artists: "Pablita Velarde, Maria Martinez, Margaret Tafoya - across North America, Native women artists have had a profound impact on preserving traditional arts and opening avenues for contemporary artists. Many of these women never received the recognition they deserved. This museum celebrates them and the women who followed their paths to earn a spotlight."

Located in the former administrative offices of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis at 213 Cathedral Place (a short walk from the St. Francis rectory where Pablita Velarde married Herbert O. Hardin in 1942), the privately funded museum will open with “The Studio of Pablita Velarde”, a recreation of the Albuquerque home studio where Velarde created her famous earth-pigment and casein paintings. "We're starting with a small and humble exhibit because that is the way Pablita Velarde started out," Bagshaw said.

The Pablita Velarde Museum of Indian Women in the Arts will open on Thursday, Sept. 20, from 5:-8 p.m. with an opening reception and will, initially, be open Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with admission free as it grows its collections and develops more events. For the latest information, call 505-988-8900 or log onto www.pvmiwa.org.

Velarde was ostracized by the leaders of her Santa Clara Pueblo for pursuing a full-time career as a painter at a time when women were expected to be potters, usually selling their work at local trading posts, art fairs and roadside stands. By contrast, Velarde exhibited her work throughout the United States. From her early training as the first female student of Dorothy Dunn's "Studio style" at the Santa Fe Indian School through her evolution into a defiantly independent voice, Velarde won more awards than any other Native painter, male or female, including the Palms Académiques from the government of France, yet she consistently saw her work sell for less than male artists who had fewer accomplishments.

Bagshaw, whose mother was award-winning artist Helen Hardin, conceived the idea for the museum a year ago with her husband, Dan McGuinness. The couple operates Golden Dawn Gallery just off the Santa Fe Plaza, where they carry the work of Velarde, Hardin and Bagshaw. So far they have raised more than $100,000 in cash and commitments from donors inside and outside of New Mexico and aim to eventually raise enough to move the museum to a larger Santa Fe building that can host not only exhibitions but also a classroom, media room, library, open studios and resident-artist program.

The museum will also include the Roxanne Swentzell Sculpture Garden, showcasing this award-winning Santa Clara sculptor and other artists. A museum store will sell original work, books, CDs, and DVDs by and about Native women.

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