Sunday, February 26, 2017

Day 13: Santa Fe Calendar Art

Navajo Children
It would be very difficult to miss the world-famous key collection when visiting The Baldpate Inn. And although some overlook our black & white photo collection, we would guess not too many guests really notice our vast collection of Santa Fe Calendar Prints displayed throughout the main lodge. These artistic gems tell a tale of another time, a time of railroad heydays and pioneering artist colonies in the Southwest. 

Created and distributed by the Santa Fe Railway Company, the artwork displayed within The Baldpate Inn is a collection of various lithograph prints of paintings, with dates as early as 1926, through 1959. The calendars themselves first were published in 1907, with credit given to William H. Simpson, who established the Advertising Department of the railway in 1896. We believe that the calendars were sold at the Baldpate Inn for several years. 

The Santa Fe Calendar Prints project served several purposes. It certainly promoted the railroad and encouraged tourists to visit the Southwest. Through the partnership with the railroad, artists were drawn to the Southwest region and were paid to continue to produce vivid paintings representing this unique area. Learn more about the railroad and artist partnership here. When tourists arrived, the local Native Americans were presented with an opportunity to sell their own artwork and crafts. Possibly an unforeseen result was that it also helped promote a truly American art form. Instead of replicating European styles, a unique style of American art had been born and was appreciated around the world. Today these iconic paintings continue to inspire a love of the Southwest.

The Chiefs

As you can see, this artwork has played an important role in the shaping of the American Southwest. We’ll sign off today with a quote that articulates the appeal of the Southwest. Included in the “Creating Images of the Southwest: The Santa Fe Railway Art Collection” pamphlet (1991), the quote is from 1926 but is still true today: 

Words are futile things with which to picture the fascination of this vast enchanted empire, unspoiled and full of startling contrasts that we call the Southwest. It is a land of limitless panoramas and distances dwarfed by the clear, dry air; of flooding sunshine and intense color; of snow-capped peaks and twisting, abysmal gorges; of sage and cedar and mountain forests; of lazy rivers and plunging torrents; of broad mesas and rich, peaceful valleys. It is a land where the sunsets flame and the afterglow softens the harsh outlines of the wilderness into a picture of unspeakable beauty; where the silence listens and the night stars glow light headlights.

Written by Liz Rodgers 

San Francisco Peaks

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