The artist as a deliberate anomaly

Angus MacDonald exhibits in ‘New Masters of Taos Art Series' at Blumenschein Home

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 10/1/19

There’s a great story and maybe even a movie to be made about the life and times of Angus MacDonald. An artist who seems to be a deliberate anomaly, MacDonald is nothing like …

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The artist as a deliberate anomaly

Angus MacDonald exhibits in ‘New Masters of Taos Art Series' at Blumenschein Home

Posted

There’s a great story and maybe even a movie to be made about the life and times of Angus MacDonald.

An artist who seems to be a deliberate anomaly, MacDonald is nothing like you imagine if you ran into him cold in the middle of the street. Lanky as his Marfa, Texas, upbringing might suggest, and wearing a cowboy hat to fit the image, he quietly talks about how he came to be at his latest art exhibit. The show, part of the “New Masters of Taos Art Series,” is slated to open with a reception Saturday (Oct. 5), 3-5 p.m., at The Blumenschein Home and Museum. 222 Ledoux Street. Admission is free.

According to a bio on taos.org, "Angus’ mother was a talented musician and artist who was often gone for months on end playing in orchestras around Texas. His father was killed in the South Pacific during the war when he was quite small and he and his brother (who went on to become a major radio personality), were raised by their maternal grandmother, who owned the Marfa Hotel.

"Of stalwart Scots descent (Angus traces his heritage back to the Highland (Glengarry) MacDonalds who protected Bonnie Prince Charlie from Cumberland’s forces), the family had come to Texas from Hannibal, Missouri, by way of Virginia and Kentucky after the Civil War. His great, great aunt Cornelia Peake MacDonald’s diary ('A Woman’s Civil War') is used by scholars the world over researching the Civil War years in the American South.

"Cornelia’s father, Dr. Humphrey Peake (from Hannibal, Missouri), was mentioned in Mark Twain’s autobiography as 'an aristocrat whose wisdom was respected by his listeners.’”

MacDonald had an interest in art early on, but his development didn’t really take hold until he was in the military, and even then he only pursued it when he had a change between deployments. At one point he even took classes with Norman Rockwell. Eventually, he ended up in Taos with his wife and renewed his acquaintance with his old friend Kelly Pruitt.

Surprisingly, MacDonald said he doesn’t use photos or even sketches before he paints. And, when he settles down with his canvas and oil paints, he just begins, drawing upon the images he sees in his own mind’s eye. It’s all imagination. Pure and simple. Of course, there are connections to the physical world, such has his portrait of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, but again he does it from images of her he has seen and translates through his hand-to-eye movements.

Part of this discipline may also be rooted in his discipline as a Buddhist priest.

“Kobun Chino Otagawa was a famed teacher and practitioner of Zen Buddhism who was to change Angus’ life,” the taos.org bio reads. “Over the next decade Angus studied with the master and was ordained by Kobun into the lineage of Zen monks he belonged to."

Like we said, he is nowhere near what one might think upon first meeting him.

Go see his show, talk to him a bit and discover things you simply might not have ever imagined yourself.

For more information, call (575) 758-0505 or visit taoshistoricmuseums.org.

FYI BOX

Opening reception

Saturday (Oct. 5), 3-5 p.m.

Blumenschein Home and Museum, 222 Ledoux Street, Taos

Admission is free

(575) 758-0505

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