Harold Joe Waldrum: Sombras

Jun 28 - Sep 21, 2019

Santa Fe

For more Information:

Press Release

Gerald Peters Gallery is pleased to present Sombras,an intimate exhibition of twelve works by Harold Joe Waldrum. Running from June 28-September 14, 2019, the exhibition revisits a body of work first presented by the Gallery in 1985. That year marked the completion of Waldrum’s first aquatint etching, printed in collaboration with Robert Blanchard of Custom Etching Studio in Albuquerque. For the first time since the 1985 exhibition, the Gallery will present the original suite.

By the mid-1980s, Waldrum had moved permanently to New Mexico. Working out of the historic Joseph Sharp studio, Waldrum became entranced with the churches andmoradas of northern New Mexico. Art historian and long-time friend of Waldrum, Bill Peterson, remarks:

 “The mud-hewn churches and moradas of the secluded villages of northern New Mexico have become the dominant subject of Waldrum’s works. Through his careful cropping and selection of details, Waldrum expresses the in-turned loneliness of these buildings and the brooding passion of their builders. Whether swollen with the glowing projected light of the setting sun or looming in shadowed moonlit darkness, Waldrum’s churches shroud their mysteries. The massive planes of their sensuous adobe walls and buttresses and their cervice-like shadows hover protectively around an inaccessible and haunted interior. Their world is closed to us beyond these brilliant planar slabs – mute, stoic and seductive.”

Nearly thirty-five years later these works feel as fresh and modern as they did when they were first produced. The richness of color and density of tone bring both energy and beauty to these now familiar subjects.


Artist Information

Harold Joe Waldrum embodied a colorful life that was manifest in his work.

In the 1950s and ’60s, Waldrum lived in the academic world as student and teacher, primarily focusing on music. In the ’70s he turned to painting full time and moved to New Mexico. For a brief period, he lived and painted in New York where he was influenced by the Abstract Expressionists. Following his return to New Mexico, he developed the work for which he is best known.

The clarity of the southwestern light and dramatic adobe architecture became the foundation for his series of windows and walls. Inspired by the historic adobe churches and moradas, Waldrum captured the essence of their timeless form primarily in acrylic painting. He used a Polaroid SX-70 camera to document shapes and shadows as reference material for his paintings. These prints later became their own works of art.

During the 1980s Waldrum experienced an expansive and creative period in his career. Working in the historical studio of Joseph Sharp in Taos, he continued to develop strong architectural forms, based on regional adobe churches. In addition to these color-saturated paintings, he began producing aquatints and linocuts of the same classic subject matter.

Waldrum developed not only a visual relationship with the churches, but established the El Valle Foundation in effort to preserve some of the buildings that inspired his paintings.

In 1989, Waldrum sought solitude on a remote mountain ranch between Albuquerque and Socorro. He felt most at home in the off the grid lifestyle, which included mule raising and tending cattle. He continued to paint and completed his first self-published book, “Ando en Cueros.” Nine years later he made his final move, to Truth or Consequences.

For the past four decades the powerful imagery of Harold Joe Waldrum has left its imprint in museums, galleries and collections throughout the country. The question has been raised as to whether or not he was an abstractionist or realist, a minimalist or maximalist, a traditionalist or radical. Remarkably, the artist and his technique embraced all.