Architecture and The Santa Fe Trail
With Mexican independence in 1821, New Mexico’s period of isolation ended. Trade on the Santa Fe Trail brought new people, cultures and materials. Glass, nails, hardware and tools were finally available.
In 1848, New Mexico became an official territory of the United States. American visitors who arrived in Santa Fe via the Santa Fe Trail did not always appreciate the native architecture. Some even said Santa Fe looked like a prairie dog town! Americans brought in milled posts and trim to make the buildings look more European, and built Greek Revival style buildings with white columns and classical proportions. U.S. military forts and government buildings adopted this style, now known as “Territorial.” Churches were also influenced by European design, and Bishop Lamy, who came from France, built Santa Fe’s St. Francis cathedral in the Romanesque Revival style.
Influence of The Railroad
In 1880, the railroad began to influence the architectural styles in new settlements. Towns built along the railroad like Deming, Albuquerque and Las Vegas resembled small Midwestern towns with Victorian houses, pitched metal roofing, and front porches. Towns not along the railroad, such as Santa Fe and Taos, retained more of their regional character.
About the Artists
A selection of the artists featured in this curriculum are listed below. Click on their names to learn more about each artist.
Gerald Cassidy received his training at the Institute of Mechanical Arts, and the Art Students League in New York, both schools introducing him to other artists of the era and the ideas they were exploring. When he moved to a sanitarium in Albuquerque with a life-threatening case of pneumonia, he first saw the people and places of the Southwest. This became the central subject matter for his entire life’s work which developed into a solidly realist style. Cassidy moved to Santa Fe in 1912, becoming a founding member of the Santa Fe Artists’ Colony.
John Collier, Jr. grew up around Taos, as his father was a social activist who later served as the Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1933 to 1945. When Collier was twelve, he was apprenticed to Maynard Dixon, a well-known painter, but it was Dixon’s wife, Dorothea Lange, who introduced him to photography. In the 1930s, he spent time with the photographer Paul Strand and set up his first photographic studio in Strand’s old darkroom in Taos. From 1941 to 1943, Collier worked as a photographer with the Farm Securities Administration and the Office of War Information documenting many areas around the eastern U.S and northern New Mexico, particularly the communities of Cebolla, Truchas, Peñasco and Picuris; he also documented the Navajo Reservation from 1938-1972. One of the recurrent themes of Collier’s work is the use of photography and film in the analysis of educational processes.
William Lumpkins was born on the Rabbit Ears Ranch in Clayton, New Mexico. His early education came from a tutor who instilled a lasting interest in Zen Buddhism in the young artist. When his education moved him to Roswell in 1924, he met Peter Hurd, and the two young artists spent much time sketching together with Hurd coaching Lumpkins in his early efforts. Lumpkins’ abstract work began in early 1930, inspired by a group of watercolors by John Marin. When Lumpkins moved to Santa Fe in 1935, he met Raymond Jonson and became involved with the Transcendentalist Painting Group, committed to the philosophy that one achieved artistic fulfillment by going beyond sense experience into spiritual realms. Lumpkins, a key figure in the Santa Fe art community as both artist and architect, was also a pioneer of passive solar architecture and founded the Santa Fe Art Institute in 1985.
Lumpkins was a true “Renaissance man”, meaning he could do many different things well. He was a well-known modernist painter, a talented architect, furniture maker and teacher, an author, and a champion of passive solar adobe design well before anyone else. Lumpkins was born and raised on a ranch in eastern New Mexico and, after studying architecture briefly in California, a long term New Mexico resident.
Leon Trousset remains a mystery, with the details of his life mostly unknown. He was born in France around 1838 (exact date unknown) and died in Juarez, Mexico in 1917. Trousset’s work can be conveniently divided into three periods that generally correspond to the time he spent traveling across Texas (Fall 1867), up and down California (1874-1876) and along the Camino Real (1882-1886 or 1887). What we do know has been learned from studying his paintings and poems, though there is not many of either.
Art & Architecture
New Mexico Art Tells New Mexico History
This collection features content that we have transferred to The Humanities Project from our former online educational resource, New Mexico Art Tells New Mexico History.