The route to the studio and sprawling adobe home of artist Chris Bundy and her photographer husband Steve include a circuitous dirt road with exactly four-speed bumps passing by a sign that reads "The road less traveled." The Bundys moved to Blueberry Hill in Taos after many trips to Northern New Mexico from their southern California home starting in 2006. Six years after that, it was Mr. Bundy, a civil engineer, who suggested and then posed the question to his wife "Didn't you feel at home in Taos?" She agreed without reservation and they packed up and moved permanently.
Two years after the move, in 2014, Bundy found out that she had multiple sclerosis. She said painting is what saved her from despair after the diagnosis. "I'd go into my studio, and 3 or 4 hours later, I painted something and felt better." The works she created during this time period will be featured in her first one-woman show titled “Oil and Water: New Works by Chris Bundy.”
The exhibit opens with a reception Friday (Dec. 1), from 5-7 p.m., at Blumenschein Home and Museum, 222 Ledoux Street in Taos. The show is part of the Taos Historic Museums’ New Masters of Taos series.
The organizer of the event, Margo Beutler Gins is the tenacious and passionate President of Taos Historic Museums, an organization that promotes the history, heritage, and the cultural arts of Northern New Mexico through education and preservation of unique historic structures and collections. These historic structures include the Martinez Hacienda and the Blumenschein Home and Museum. Ernest Blumenschein, whose residence welcomes the exhibit, was a co-founder of the Taos Society of Artists. He brought his family to Taos in 1919 and lived in the house for more than 40 years. Taos Society of Artists, which began meeting in 1915, was primarily a group of illustrators who sought solace from their commercial work and the people they saw as the corporate overlords of New York City. The Blumenschein Home is maintained much as it was when the artist and his family lived there.
Gins is a savvy businesswoman with a background in selling and fundraising. She hopes to use the arts to usher a renaissance on Ledoux street and promote creativity in Taos. Gins is the great-granddaughter of Bert Geer Phillips, who was also a founding member of the Taos Society of Artists, and she is the grandniece of Doc Martin, the first practicing physician in Taos. Gins is a former Airforce nurse who returned to Taos 4 years ago to reconnect with her roots and help revitalize the art scene in Taos.
Taos Watercolor Society President Karen McCurtain Blair says this about Bundy: "Chris is a dedicated artist with an outrageous sense of humor, which makes for a formidable force of creativity. She chooses an unusual point of view of common subjects to make them lyrical and captivating. The lines just flow, but make no mistake these are not whimpy compositions! Chris uses strong values, interesting shapes, and overlapping designs to enliven her work. This is work whether in oil or watercolor, well worth viewing." Blair said about working with Bundy as an artist: "She is a free spirit! I love the ways she draws her watercolors in a contour style, and they just flow out of her in tune with the media. Chris is very observant in a group that may result in a most appropriate or inappropriate dry one-liner that is so funny, or in painting; it may manifest in detail no one else has noticed. She is a joy."
Bundy comes from a lineage of artists whose styles were unique to the Southwest and continues to be relevant. There’s a breadth across Bundy’s use of both oils and watercolors. Her watercolors invoke an illustrative styling that creates a storybook aesthetic through penciled outlines. The watercolors’ cutout compositions and traditional use of foreground, middle ground and background make them seem as though they were layers that had been pasted to a page. This style of imagery can best be seen in the hard shadows of Adobe & Aspens, where one layer of leaves seems to rigidly float above the next. Her oils, in contrast, have an intriguing use of one point perspective, and an expectedly more dense use of color given the medium. There’s no better example of these impactful colors than contrasting shapes and shadows of Symbol of Seco’s red rooftop.
Visitors to the show should expect the familiar from Taos. Bundy’s Southwestern dialogues find themselves set in regional tradition and aesthetic, with bits of picturesque pueblo architecture scattered across local landscapes.
For more information, call (575) 758-0505.
Friday (Dec. 1), 5-7 p.m.
Blumenschein Home and Museum, 222 Ledoux Street
Free to Public