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      Women In The Visual Arts: Gene Kloss

      3 months ago

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      Self Portrait and the Golden Gate 1951 drypoint. edition of 10 -- Gene Kloss

      Photographers have an advantage in that when they secure their negatives, they can reproduce the same image over and over again or they can modify it in the darkroom. Unlike a painting which is one of a kind, the photograph is reproducible thus making it accessible to more people at lower prices. In the office of the gallery where I volunteer my time as a sitter, there is a portfolio chock full of photos. The photographer has donated the proceeds from their sales to the gallery, but none had sold. It seemed that they were sitting there gathering dust until one fine morning, a friend of the gallery invited some guests and gave them a tour of the rooms. Before leaving, they purchased six prints. I had the honor of transacting the sale and being that so few transactions ever take place, I was temporarily at a loss in figuring out how to use the credit card machine. I always feel awkward when transacting a sale even when the item purchased is acquired through cash so infrequently these events occur. It was my first and only time that I saw photographs sold.


      A month before, a photographer with giclée prints of Indian sadhus attending the kumbh mela had given up taking down his images for the last time as not one ever sold. We lost a piece of photojournalism qua art. But photographs whether from film or from digitized media are not the only reproducible item on display. From time-to-time other pieces are displayed and yet I do not recall the last time that a lithograph or a drypoint print was ever exhibited. People hanker for something original, something that no one else has ever produced or will ever repeat again that is, if anyone who visits this gallery decides to actually purchase something.

      Spring in Taos Canyon -- Gene Kloss

      But silkscreens, linocuts, woodcuts, aquatints, mezzotints, and monotypes are originals. To make the audience feel that they are genuine, the artist can willfully limit her work creating what is known as limited editions and if she comports herself with integrity will stop reproducing them upon reaching the appointed limit.


      In this day and age where retail outlets are suffering competing with the giants of the Internet, people with a modicum of disposable income are not so disposed to buy art. A painting may attract a would be collector until he sees the price for it. And then he shutters, smiles to himself, and retreats to a corner or nonchalantly walks out of the gallery with a nod and a thank you to the gallerist or sitter. But when the price of a work is well below its worth, it sells. The painting screams out at the prospective customer. Not only that, its price likewise shouts. And thus a sale is made.

      Adobe House and Snow Scene w/c on paper -- Gene Kloss

      In Saratoga, there is an annual art fair. One of the participants pointed out to me that she sells while her colleagues hawking their latest paintings do not. She produces few works in a year slowly consuming her Sundays with painting. Instead she had them reproduced as photo-offset prints so that they can be sold rather inexpensively. Et voila, they sell.


      A little further south is an art center with a long history of having at one time an art colony. The roads are punctuated with artist studios and galleries. It was a center for printing and artists such as George Bellows and Eugene Speicher of Georgia O'Keeffe fame – that is a story for another time – studied printing there. Today the Woodstock School of Art gives classes in printmaking including and especially the use of a lithographer's stone.

      Conclave ca 1960 w/c -- Gene Kloss

      Out West in the last century was a Californian who once she had been exposed to printmaking was hooked on it for the rest of her life. Gene Kloss discovered etching in her last semester at Berkley. The year was 1924. Some of her work sold in San Francisco and she saw that it therefore had some financial possibilities. She continued her studies at the California School of Fine Arts in that subsequent year but then went her own way traveling throughout the Southwest with her poet husband Phillips Kloss. They drove through southern California to Arizona and onwards towards Las Cruces, New Mexico before settling down in Taos. Along with camping equipment, she had a sixty pound press for etching on copper plates. Throughout her life, Kloss had made some 627 such copper etchings producing limited editions spanning five to 250 as her upper limit. While in Taos, her husband interviewed locals for a California paper while she etched. They spent their summers in Taos until 1945 when they decided to make that town their home base although they continued to travel and live also in other places such as Southern Colorado where she depicted its mining towns.


      Taos, was known for its rich art history with the likes of Oscar Berninghaus Ernest L. Blumenschein, Eanger Irving Couse, Joseph Henry Sharp, Nicolai Fechin, and Mabel Dodge Luhan who brought many an artist to that region. And it had its famous visitors including John Sloan and John Marin. Just as the Klosses adopted Taos, the city had adopted them.

      Red Willows and Taos Mountain -- Gene Kloss

      Gene experimented with different printing techniques all throughout her artistic career combining diverse methods to create individual prints bringing together for instance etching with aquatint and then also with drypoint. Already in 1935 she was selected to represent New Mexico in a Paris exhibition and in the next year produced work for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). By 1950 she was elected as an associate to the National Academy of Design attaining that institution's highest rank of National Academician by 1972.


      Aging eventually limited her travels and she focused on sketches and recollections of scenes as the basis for her new productions. Her last prints were created in 1985, but she continued to print copies from the plates that she had earlier made. Her last public appearance just shy of her ninety-first birthday was the opening of her retrospective held at the Harwood Museum. She passed two years later in 1996.

      Domingo Basket Dance -- Gene Kloss

      Her subject matter included the Southwestern landscape, indigenous culture, portraits of friends and colleagues. She never depended upon photography but relied exclusively on what she observed with the naked eye along with her memory of what she had seen. She is mostly known for her depiction of Native Americans as well as Penitentes. As a witness to the sea changes of the last century, one would suppose the revolutions both in politics and in technology would significantly impact on her subject matter. Perhaps because so much transpired in that compressed period of time, she chose to portray a sense of timelessness. People persist in building whole lives around memories out of fidelity to ancestors and the quest to instill in the young a feeling for tradition and continuity. The people of Taos and its surrounding area lived such lives raising cattle, farming and faithfully transmitting the values of their grandparents to each subsequent generation. On one hand they were obliged to adapt to changing times while on the other preserved their inner world that gave expression in the folk arts and rituals. Gene captured the latter giving her work a portrayal of a world that was beyond time. Principally a printmaker, Gene Kloss also left behind a collection of watercolors, oils and drawings that spanned her artistic career capturing this timeless sense.

      Kereson Dancers etching -- Gene Kloss

      Sources:

      American Art Review . Legendary Landscapes: Gene Kloss . pp. 102 – 103. America Arts Media, Inc. Leawood, kansas . April 2012.


      http://www.taosfineart.com/kloss.htm


      http://www.medicinemangallery.com/bio/geneklossarticle.lasso

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          Jonathan Wilner
          3 months ago

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          These are really great but this one is the grabber for me: Red Willows and Taos Mountain. It's the faint red smudges against the white snow that does it. Absolutely brilliant.

          Spring in Taos Canyon: almost a close second, but compared to Red Willows it pales a bit. In fact, for me, they all pale after seeing Red Willows. Red Willows just blew me out of the water.

          Not to go off subject but photographs can be made unique in a very unsuspected way. I went to a Xmas fair here in Bangkok and a lady who was a professional photographer was selling her photographs and doing a brisk business! She had photographs that she had reproduced/developed herself, BUT she interrupted the developing process so that each reproduction was something truly unique because of the stage the developing colors were at when she stopped it. I like really unusual things and her photographs were nothing but short of unusual. Not one of them was fully developed. I went bananas trying to choose because they were all so unique in the colors, absolutely fantastic color combinations. And she sold them at really reasonable prices, US$10-15 depending on the size, and already mounted. Frames you had to buy yourself.

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              Mykolai Mike Kolesinski
              3 months ago

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              Speaking of Bangkok, how are the bananas over there? ;)


              I remember one photographer who set up her table on the street -- Woodstock's main street which is called Tinker. There were throngs of people ambling by but she sold no photographs. Thailand seems different in this respect. And it would seem that USD $10-15 is a lot of money to Thais.

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                      Jonathan Wilner
                      3 months ago

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                      Beautiful work. I love the fine arts. My step -father-in-law is an exceptional photographer. When I was 12 years of age I bought a Beatles blue lunch box and a large photo book of the Beatles Both items were $1.00 each at a yard sale. Inside the photo book, I found two unpublished photos of the Beatles and the negatives for them. Apparently, the lady selling them had lost her son. He was a well know photographer. She told me that when I bought the book.

                      I have no idea what they are worth but you can bet I will never sell them.

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                          sparkle85024
                          3 months ago

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                          The Beatles were the most popular pop group in the 1960's and images are very collectable.. look at the back of the prints and see if there is a stamp identifying the photographer who took them.

                          Who knows maybe you could take them to the Antiques Road Show when it comes to your town! or let me know...

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                                  Jonathan Wilner
                                  3 months ago

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                                  Interesting Jonathan Wilner .. Photographs did not sell as art very well until Ansel Adams started selling limited edition prints. We had a show at the Gallery Restaurant in Pioneer Square in Seattle in 1976. As I remember prints were $125.00 each. I was a young photographer at the time and helped organize the show. Eventually the Silver Image Gallery arrived and had many fine shows where prints did sell very well.

                                  John Szarkowoski at the Museum of Modern Art in New York had been collecting for some time before that. I had some input for his obituary in Slate Magazine.

                                  Always interesting to read what you write here..Joe

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                                      Oldshooter
                                      3 months ago

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                                      Thank you Joe.

                                      I also appreciate your input here which is highly informative. Alfred Stieglitz regarded photography as an art form. Perhaps Stieglitz as well as Ansel Adams helped place it upon the map. Also this encourages me to consider limited edition photo-offset reproductions of my pen and ink drawings. Hmmm. . . :) Or, maybe take a course in monoprinting?

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