VI. New Mexico and a New Museum, 1916:
With Dr. Hewitt and Robert Henri at the Santa Fe Museum of Art

Unknown photographer, Alice Klauber in New Mexico, courtesy of the Klauber family.

Unknown photographer, Miss Klauber walks toward a store in New Mexico, then with rustic villages, dirt roads, and no sidewalks, courtesy of the Klauber family.

. . . In 1916, four years after New Mexico, became a state, Alice Klauber was invited to join Robert Henri and Dr. Edgar Hewett in Santa Fe in anticipation of the 1917 opening of a new museum, today considered as the cultural hub of the city’s cultural life as the oldest in the Southwest. In fact, it is considered by some as the cultural center of the Southwest with three million visitors a year to attend city opera, a chamber music orchestra performance, an international film festival, chic galleries, restaurants, bookstores, an Indian arts and crafts market and the museum. The building was a replica of that constructed for the Panama California Exposition in San Diego in 1915. Both were designed by the Rapp brothers of Trinidad, Colorado. In San Diego the New Mexico Building had been affectionately referred to as “the Cathedral of the Desert.” In the San Diego New Mexico Building built by Indian and Hispanic labor, the little remembered but talented Santa Fe painter, Donald Beauregard, had been commissioned to do a series of mural sized canvases illustrating the life of St. Francis of Assisi to decorate the auditorium. They were later permanently installed in the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe not too far distant from the Santa Fe Museum. Director Dr. Hewett and the School of American Research exerted a strong influence in its design and function of its New Mexico double. Unique in programming since it was more of an archaeological museum showing contemporary art in its exhibition scheduling and causing some tension in the cultural community. Considering its archaeological focus, working artists appeared grateful to Hewett for including their work in exhibitions. From his position there presiding over the art museum, a Laboratory of Anthropology and a history museum, Hewett became virtually art dictator of Southwest art. Miss Klauber was represented in the inaugural exhibition of important Santa Fe and Taos painters by three paintings: Desert Evening, A Mexican Ghost and Taos Afternoon. Other painters included in the exhibition were George Bellows, 1882-1925, Oscar Berninghaus, 1874-1952, Ernest L. Blumenschein, 1874-1960, Paul Burlin, 1886-1969, Gerald Cassidy, 1879-1934, E. Irving Couse, 1866-1936, W. Herbert Dunton, 1878-1936, E. Martin Hennings, 1886-1956, Robert Henri, Victor Higgins, 1884-1949, Leon Kroll, Bert Geer Phillips, 1868-1956, Julius Rolshoven, 1858-1930, Doris Rosenthal, Joseph Henry Sharp, Walter Ufer, and Carlos Vierra, 1876-1937. 45 Many of the artists had ties to the San Diego art scene such as Phillips who died there. Later established East coast moderns to settle in the area included artists John Marin, Georgia O’Keeffe and Maurice Sterne; as did authors D. H. Lawrence, Willa Cathers and art patron Mabel Dodge Luhan.

Alice Klauber

. . . Coincidentally, Natalie Curtis was also in the area but not feeling well. She caused Miss Klauber concern throughout her visit and the two spent a great deal of time together. Alice left for Santa Fe during a very warm season on August 10, 1916. En route from the train’s observation car she noted the area’s picturesque landscape and brief glimpses of small villages such as Isleta. Her discerning eyes caught the Native Americans milling about the railroad terminals, comparing and contrasting them as to cultures, now familiar, such as Tewas and Hopi’s with whom she had become acquainted in her 1913 trip to Arizona, and had formed new friendships with many. Her description of the small historical community of Santa Fe, founded in 1609, was similarly admired for its attractiveness and picturesqueness, with its adobe walls and Mexicans lingering in the doorways. Upon her arrival she registered at the De Vargas Hotel and settled in for her stay. She strolled to the Hewett Building where construction was in progress and where Dr. Hewett invited her in for a preview. He mentioned that Henri and his retinue were at Santa Clara attending the Native dances and ceremonies.

. . . Afterward, Miss Klauber returned to the hotel where she found a call for her from Natalie Curtis who said she hadn’t been well. They met several acquaintances that took them for a drive and met the Robert Henris and arranged a dinner at seven. At home again, she began exploring the shady streets of Santa Fe. She met Henri at the appointed time and spoke to him about the Santa Clara dance and that of Santo Domingo, as well as that of Taos, one not to be missed. Henri’s maid, who had traveled with them, prepared a meal at a home and studio Dr. Hewett had arranged, to accommodate him. Later Henri escorting his former student walked to the hotel and they spent sometime together in conversation near the Old Palace in the Plaza. A sudden down pour sent them scurrying back to the hotel. Miss Klauber gave Henri cigars and cigarettes she had purchased for him before he left. His habit, often depicted in photos and paintings, would be considered a bane to today’s non-smoking advocates. She continued to furnish him with smoking products throughout their friendship. The first day in Santa Fe she found, “truly glorious.”

. . . The following day Miss Klauber went with friends to Jesuque (Tesuque Pueblo), a village around an open square. She left with her “Tewa vocabulary” well started and a black pitcher and a sugar bowl, both purchased for twenty-five cents. While visiting with Natalie, after her return, Marjorie ‘O’, Henri’s wife, asked her over to Henri’s studio where she saw four new canvases the artist had finished in two weeks in Santa Fe, two gypsy girls, one Indian man and one woman that she considered “none of first rank.” Alice, also, noted that Henri was not feeling well even though the setting had fired the artist’s creative spirit. Later she met Natalie for a cool drink and they walked back to DeVargas Street. In the evening she accompanied the Henri retinue to a movie, a frequent form of entertainment.

. . . Miss Klauber went to the museum for The Land of Poco Tiempo exhibition that she read about in the courtyard. At Candelario’s old curiosity shop, she purchased Guadalajara plates. The shopping and sight seeing venture was followed by a drive with Natalie and other friends.

. . . At Henri’s studio they found Willie Bigih posing. She reported Henri “had great work to show.” Escorted back to the hotel, Alice returned alone to the Henri’s later in the evening until mid-night.

. . . Shopping and some packing occupied Miss Klauber until she visited the Henri studio the following day. Again she spoke of seeing three ‘good’ paintings. By train with Miss L. W. Wilson, Miss Klauber went to San Il de Forgo where she saw Crescension at the station. He was unable to take her to her destination because of high water. Somehow he did manage to get the two to the dig and by evening they had reached Dr. Hewett’s camp. They settled into tent accommodations. During her visit she witnessed the excavation of a “very fine jar with animal patterns filled with the skeleton of some large birds.” On the seventeenth Miss Klauber explored a cave in a cliff and saw Romana and Maximiana making some pottery. Late evening found Alice at a Spanish class until suppertime.

. . . Miss Klauber noted on the eighteenth of August that she made drawings for Dr. Hewett of two evacuated fireplaces with two and three firedogs respectively. Other items that were of interest to her were grinding stones for arrow making and turquoise bits. She tried her hand as a potter pronouncing that her efforts “were improving.” On the second day she dined with the Hewetts in their tent and after Spanish lessons, they took a walk for exercise and conservation. Evacuating a kiva the following morning, was a fascinating experience for Miss Klauber. After lunch she went to Hewett’s dig to hear his summation of a week’s work and his future plans. The excavation site attracted her attention most of her visit.

. . . Generally, pottery also fascinated her and she practiced the craft under two well-known potters, Romana and Maximiana.


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