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Taos Society of Artists archive, research center progresses

The Couse Foundation set to acquire and renovate building
that incorporates part of founding TSA artist’s home

TAOS, NM— An archive and research center focusing on the Taos Society of Artists (TSA) is now not only on the drawing board but moving forward into reality, spearheaded by The Couse Foundation, a non-profit organization which owns and operates the Couse-Sharp Historic Site (CSHS) in the historic district of downtown Taos.

In October 2017, the Foundation made public its agreement to acquire a 5,000-square-foot adobe building immediately adjacent to the CSHS. The building, which long housed the renowned Mission Gallery, incorporates the last remaining remnants of the home of Joseph Henry Sharp, one of the TSA founders, whose two Taos studios already form part of the historic site.

“Our team of local architects has developed plans to transform the Mission Gallery into an archive and research facility devoted to all of the artists who were part of the groundbreaking TSA,” said Carl Jones, president of The Couse Foundation. “After its transformation, the building will be home for a wide range of materials, including historic documents, photographs, scholarly papers focused on the TSA and its individual members, Native art and ethnographic objects collected by several of the artists, a research library, as well as representative artwork,” Jones added.

“The archive consolidation and increased access will inevitably result in a wealth of new connections, stories and scholarship,” said Davison Koenig, executive director and curator of the CSHS. “We envision great potential for a new generation of scholarship that addresses, for example, the nuanced relationships between Native models and the TSA artists who worked with them.”

“A centerpiece will be the extensive E. I. Couse archives, meticulously and lovingly preserved by the family over the decades,” Koenig said. In addition to papers, sketches, and records, the archive includes about 10,000 photographic negatives and plates taken by Couse as part of his artistic process. Koenig noted that the Foundation is pursuing grant funding to digitize, catalog, and make accessible the negatives, prints, and other archival materials.

Scholars Dean Porter, Robert White, and Elizabeth Cunningham have already donated working papers relating to their research on the Taos Society of Artists, with emphasis on Ufer, Higgins, and Blumenschein. Other scholars and descendants of the TSA have promised future transfers.
The research center and museum facility will also include a public reception area, an exhibition gallery, curatorial and conservation space, and Foundation offices.

Many factors of scheduling and funding will affect the development of the TSA Archive and Research Center, but the Foundation’s board hopes to be able to open the facility by 2021.

Porter donates extensive papers to Foundation’s TSA archive

Dean Porter, an Advisory Director of The Couse Foundation and Director Emeritus of the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame, has donated his personal Taos Society of Artists archive and research papers to the Foundation.

“The gift of these well-indexed documents, in addition to numerous scholarly books included with the gift, will be a treasure trove for scholars into the future and will be an important component of the Taos Society of Artists archive being established at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site,” said Carl Jones, President of The Couse Foundation.

The Porter documents have a primary focus on artists Walter Ufer and Victor Higgins but also contain source materials for other members of the TSA, and include an original letter from Georgia O’Keeffe to Porter regarding her connection to TSA artists. 

“The Foundation is honored to receive this extraordinary gift from our good friend Dean Porter,” Jones added.

Couse Foundation set to acquire Mission Gallery building

TAOS, NM—A joint statement issued Oct. 9 by The Couse Foundation and Rena Rosequist announced that the Foundation has agreed to acquire from Ms. Rosequist the building owned by her that houses the Mission Gallery and an attached rental space. Terms of the agreement for the acquisition of the building were not disclosed.

Ms. Rosequist said that the transaction will facilitate her vision of a new beginning for the property her husband, Ivan Rosequist, acquired more than 50 years ago. Though the Mission Gallery will be closed, the property, as a part of the Couse-Sharp Historic Site, will continue to enhance the reputation and history of Taos as a vibrant destination for artists and art lovers from around the world.  

Carl Jones, president of The Couse Foundation, said the non-profit organization is grateful that Ms. Rosequist presented this opportunity to bring into the Couse-Sharp Historic Site the structure that embodies what once was the home of Joseph Henry Sharp. Sharp and E. I. Couse were two of the founding members of the Taos Society of Artists.

“The acquisition of Rena’s property will be an important addition to our campus because of its historic ties to Mr. Sharp and because the additional space can be used for a variety of purposes as the Foundation continues to expand its operations and activities,” Jones said.

The closing of the transaction will occur at an unspecified date in the future after Ms. Rosequist has completed the work begun by Ivan Rosequist in 1960, nurtured by Ivan and Rena into the 1980s, and carried on by Rena through 2017.

Couse Foundation celebration weekend draws hundreds

In June, The Couse Foundation hosted a whirlwind weekend of activities including dedication of a monument thanking our founders and the grand opening of the restored J. H. Sharp Studio, crowned by our Fifth Biennial Gala and Art Auction the evening of June 10.  

“We are delighted with the enriching and enjoyable experience we were able to provide to hundreds of art lovers,” said Davison Packard Koenig, the Foundation’s executive director and curator.

“In addition, the Gala proved to be our most successful fundraising event ever. We are deeply grateful to the artists and businesses who made our auctions the talk of the town, to our many dedicated volunteers, and to our generous bidders and donors,” Koenig said. Read more...

TCF congratulates Caroline Fernald, now Ph.D

Former CSHS intern researched Couse pottery and conserved beadwork

Caroline Jean Fernald, executive director of the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos, was awarded a doctorate from the University of Oklahoma early this summer in Native American Art History.

“The Board of Directors of the Foundation and the Site’s staff join me in congratulating Caroline for this major accomplishment,” said Board President Carl Jones. Fernald worked for two summers as a graduate intern at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site. “We are very proud of Caroline, both for attaining her doctorate and for becoming a museum director so early in her career.”

Key projects she worked on while at the Site were conservation of E. I. Couse’s collection of Native beadwork and the survey and documentation of his Native pottery collection. A new book, The Couse Collection of Pueblo Pottery, was just published in June by The Couse Foundation.

“We gratefully acknowledge Caroline’s work with the Couse pottery collection and her prior research, such as Trading Stories: Mesoamerican Influences on Pottery Motifs at Acoma Pueblo, that helped guide her survey of the collection,” Jones said.

Couse Foundation receives $5,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation 

 The Couse Foundation has received a grant from Newman's Own Foundation, the independent foundation created by the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman. The $5,000 grant supports operations and site preservation at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site.

Renovated studio featured in Western Art & Architecture

The feature "Grounded in History" in Western Art & Architecture magazine's June-July 2017 issue focuses on the opening of the newly restored 1915 studio of Joseph Henry Sharp at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site in Taos.