David Sockrider – “Broken Wheel”

8″x16″ on wood panel with floater frame.

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575-770-9950

Taos Artist Collective
106 A Paseo del Pueblo Norte
Taos, New Mexico 87571

This is an illustration of the classic story of how Ernest L. Blumenschein (24 years old) and Bert Geer Phillips (30 years old) discovered (or wound up in) Taos, beginning a long tradition of the Taos artist colony.

They were here on the advice of their friend and contemporary, painter Joseph Henry Sharp (1859-1953), whose passionate descriptions of New Mexico inspired them to visit.

But they were only passing through, traveling by horse-drawn wagon from Denver en route to Mexico. Outside of Taos, so the story goes, a wagon wheel broke on rough ground. The two artists, forced to stop in town for a blacksmith, remained, seduced by Taos’ scenic landscapes, humble people, and rustic lifestyle. Phillips went on to make Taos his permanent home, and Blumenschein, who initially stayed for only a few months and later spent his summers in Taos, moved there permanently in 1919. But the adventure of the wagon wheel became a defining moment in the founding of the Taos art colony. “I only exist because the wagon wheel broke,” Margo Beutler Gins, Taos resident and Phillips’ great-granddaughter, told Pasatiempo.

Wagon roads were bad, heavy monsoon rains of summer had washed out the dirt trails, at one point a wagon spring broke along with other mishaps, the trip included many stops at local blacksmith shops wherever and whenever they could find one. Just north of Taos a wheel spoke broke on a mountain pass, exhausted they decided with the flip of a ($3. gold, Phillips keepsake from his father) coin, which one of them would ride into the village of Taos to have the wheel fixed. It was now September 3, 1898 when Blumenschein who lost the coin toss was on his way carrying the cumbersome wheel, shifting it in any and every position, in his lap, along side the horse and so on.

Arriving into Taos on the 4th at the local blacksmith shop in Taos Plaza, the wheel was gratefully fixed and brought back up the mountain on September 5 to where Phillips waited.

The Old Bill Hinde Blacksmith Shop
The exact location of the Blacksmith shop is at the North side of Taos Plaza on the eastern corner, marked by an iron horse-head hitching post. (Next door to the current Taos Artist Collective.)

The Taos Society of Artists was a business venture.” There were no formal galleries in Taos, and artists opened their studios and organized group shows in order to get their work seen. But they stood to gain little or no money from sales of artwork unless they maintained connections in other cities, shipping works by train to venues in big cities like New York and Chicago. “For about five years, they did very well — and what I mean by ‘very well’ is that they were making a living.”

 

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