Art

Vadito artist Gendron Jensen dies

Artist who reveled in 'bone art' succumbs to bone cancer

By Tempo staff
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 7/31/19

Vadito resident and renowned artist Gendron Jensen lost his battle with bone cancer Tuesday afternoon (July 23). Jensen gave his final presentation to the students at Dixon Elementary …

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Art

Vadito artist Gendron Jensen dies

Artist who reveled in 'bone art' succumbs to bone cancer

Posted

Vadito resident and renowned artist Gendron Jensen lost his battle with bone cancer Tuesday afternoon (July 23).

Jensen gave his final presentation to the students at Dixon Elementary School this past fall on finding and drawing bones, which was his passion over the past 50 years. Jensen's grandson Finnian is a Dixon Elementary School 'Rattler.'

Jensen is to be honored at the Taos Fall Arts Festival in September with the Charles R. Strong Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award.

His list of accomplishments is substantial. He has several decades worth of exhibitions, lectures, articles, prizes and fellowships to his credit, according to his website (gendronjensen.com). Some of his drawings appear in public, academic, and corporate collections across the country.

"Jensen's painstakingly meticulous pencil renditions automatically silence a viewer into a meditative state," former Taos County Arts Commissioner David Hinske said in a 2013 Tempo article on Jensen. "The respect he clearly has for his subject matter, bones, is the opposite of clinical."

In a statement on his website, Jensen said, "For me, beyond the physical fact of death, bones are portals, thresholden estuaries unto exaltation. The bones seem to verily sing - they hum with resonant mystery."

"For more than 40 years of sustained focus, Jensen has drawn mostly from what he calls 'the bony relics,' creatures whose environs embrace watery, earthly and airy habitats from all over the world," according to the Harwood Museum in 2011. "Born in 1939, he spent most of his growing up and early artistic years in the North Woods of Minnesota, moving to Taos County in 1987 to marry artist Christine Taylor Patten."

"There is a majesty inherent in bone," Jensen said in a prepared statement, "a humbling geography that summons me to map its glories."

The award-winning documentary on his life and artwork, "Poustinia," which aired on PBS and PBS World Channel and was screened at the Taos Shortz Film Fest, among others, is available at www.bonemanfilm.com. When asked how he could tolerate having someone follow him around with a camera, Jensen said in 2013 that "artists can't live in a vacuum. We find out who we are through others. In the context of relationship, there is more to be experienced and discovered versus us being alone."

A poustinia is defined as "a small sparsely furnished cabin or room where one goes to pray and fast alone in the presence of God. The word poustinia has its origin in the Russian word for 'desert.' One called to live permanently in a poustinia is called a poustinik," according to definitions.net.

"At my age, I've been broken down by so much and sobered by so much," Jensen said in an article by Ann Landi published on her Vasari21 website on May 21, 2018. "My winter of discontent has been a long one, but I've come into the bright morning, into this springful season."

"We are grateful to all who offered support through the GoFundMe campaign. The generosity of so many made a tremendous difference toward [Jensen's] care and comfort," according to spokesman Michael Powell.

A public memorial will be announced as plans are finalized.

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