Divergent/Works: Sam Scott
Currently on view at The Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, NM, Divergent/Works: Sam Scott opened October 7, 2017 and continues through January 14, 2018.
Sam Scott (b. 1940) has lived and worked in Santa Fe since 1969. His abstract paintings, to quote the curator of an exhibition at the Harwood in 2009, “ . . . tell stories of growth, struggle, and a reverence for awkward beauty demonstrating the artist’s relentless commitment and praise of the natural world.”
Featured works in the exhibition included Thunder in the Mountains I and Deep October Mountain II
His is one of four Divergent/Works exhibitions featuring artists pursuing very different styles – sublime and humble – while subscribing to the unique high desert aesthetic of Taos and northern New Mexico.
“…and yet the great blue wall of the Sangre de Cristo range seems as near and as far as it had in the morning. It was as though we could not get near it … In the blue evening smoke of the two villages, Taos Pueblo and Taos looked hopelessly small and forgotten.” (Frederic Remington, 1902)
Taos as Metaphor in Divergent Works Exhibitions
In his 1963 essay, “The American Sublime,” art critic Lawrence Alloway writes of the Abstract Expressionist recourse to the ancient critical category of the Sublime in the paintings of Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, and Mark Rothko, heralded by Newman’s 1948 essay, “The Sublime is Now.” Alloway traces their embrace of this aesthetic concept to the 18th century Romantic reprise of the Sublime’s “momentous and powerful” qualities, in which the pleasure from nature’s beauty is accompanied by a sense of awe, fear or dread, “solitude, silence, and infinity.”
The artist émigrés to Taos did not bring this notion of the sublime—they found it, rooted in the landscape and its ancient Native American and Hispanic cultures that for centuries have shaped an overarching narrative for Taos and northern New Mexico.
October Mountain, oil on canvas, 42” x 54”
Taos, as physical place, has been both matrix and metaphor of what became, over the course of the twentieth century, an abiding aesthetic for successive migrations of modernists. Then, as now, this mingling of sublime and humble both expressed and informed the critical issues that each generation of artists brought to the region.
This distinct sense of place—a paradox of high and low styles—grounds the historically diverse artistic styles and cultural currents evolved over an entire century of Taos art, providing the aesthetic continuity of the wide range of works in the Harwood collections.
Heart of Pablo Casals, oil on canvas
A discussion/talk with painter Sam Scott took place at The Harwood Museum of Art on October 28, 2017.
Artist Statement- Sam Scott
“For many years now I have been struggling to find a way to speak to the opposing energies which we experience as human beings in living and witnessing life.
One the one hand, there is such beauty, meaning, and grandeur in nature-and such meaning in the experience of love and friendship. That sense of Sacrament which clothes Jung’s Creatura, that experience of meaning and beauty we discover from time to time.
On the other hand, there exist those forces of suffering, madness, evil, obscenity, cruelty, the face of Creator, the Prime Mover, The Fundamental Ground of Being, turned away.
How to express these opposing forces in the arena of a painting? How to reconcile this dialectic of context? What is that pattern which connects and reveals itself through time? How do we dare to express that sense of unity which is the secret at the heart of all creation?
The answer was there all the time-it has been with us always-the vertical and the horizontal, heaven and earth, the warp and the woof, the eternal dialectic.
For me, the breakthrough came in France last October, with the realization that I had to seize and possess this idea by owning it with deep passion and belief, to take to this human breast the desire to unify and thereby to sanctify the total natural world of which we are. To praise that ultimate unity which is aesthetic. The Albatross and the Symphony, The Fra Angelico, the 29th Sonnet.
Yes, we remember the Ancient Mariner’s sea snakes. He “blessed them, unaware”, and the albatross then fell from his neck into the sea. That relation between consciousness and beauty, and the relation between beauty and the sacred. And finally that relation between the sacred and consciousness. Thinking about thinking. And then making a painting. The new old man’s way. As always.” – Sam Scott
Visit Sam Scott’s website at http://www.samscottart.com
Winter into Spring X (Winter Light), 2012 oil on canvas
About The Harwood Museum of Art
In the early part of the 20th Century, many artists were drawn to the Taos area to pursue a new, truly American art devoid of industrial influence, inspired instead by New Mexico’s landscape and light and the traditional Native American and Hispanic cultures of the region.
The Harwood Museum collection brings to the public a unique record of this artistic convergence from its beginnings to the present day.
From 1924 on, much of the Harwood was given over to exhibitions. Even into the 1970s, clay pots, Native American artifacts, Hispanic textiles, Patrociño Barela’s wood sculptures, 19th Century retablos, and a cannonball said to have come from the 1847 bombardment of Taos Pueblo adorned the Library, offices and hallways.
After World War II, Taos and the Harwood entered a new phase to embrace new trends in American Art. The Harwood strives to fulfill its educational mission by presenting special lectures, offering docent tours, and working with local schools and community groups with a variety of special programs. We continue to expand our vision as a cultural center that presents the art of our region while also serving as an important educational asset to northern New Mexico.
Visit the museum website to learn more at: