Out of the Shadows: Ralph Meyers and the Taos Founders

Jul 27 - Sep 29, 2018

Santa Fe

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Press Release

This summer, Gerald Peters Gallery will feature an exhibition of the charming, colorful work of Ralph Meyers (1885-1948). His many friends and contemporaries knew Meyers as a well-established and respected merchant, craftsman and trader.

Moving to Taos from Denver, Meyers set up a curio shop in 1910 just off the Taos Plaza (still active today, the shop, now called “El Rincon” is run by Meyers’ grandson). As the first white man to establish trade with the Taos Pueblo, Meyers gained a reputation as a trusted expert on Pueblo culture. His enthusiasm and knowledge of the subject opened doors and Meyers was contracted by the Museum of Natural History in New York to purchase items for their collection.

But the shop was also a meeting place for locals and new arrivals. Art supplies were sold in Meyers’ store and he became well acquainted with the town’s notable artists and patrons. In his essay, Perspective: Ralph Meyers (1885-1948), writer Steve Winston describes the scene, “Night after night, Meyers and his young wife, Rowena, entertained artists including Joseph Sharp, Walter Ufer, Buck Dunton, Nicolai Fechin and Ansel Adams; writers including Frank Waters and D.H. Lawrence; and arts patrons including Mabel Dodge Luhan and Millicent Rogers. The conversation was loud and animated, liquor flowed and the raucous merriment often lasted well into the wee hours. Through their interactions, and most importantly, their work, these revelers were defining one of America’s most significant artistic movements. And Ralph Meyers was at the center of it all.”

Although Meyers made a living as a craftsman and trader, he identified as an artist and painted prolifically between 1910-1920. Influenced by his friends of the Taos Society of Artists, Taos Art Museum curator, Julie Parella Anderies writes, “Untrained, yet with a connoisseur’s eye, his paintings captured the depth, color and beauty of the culture he so wanted to emulate. Meyers loved to pack into the backcountry with friends such as Lee Hersch, Buck Dunton, Harold Bugbee and Bert Phillips to sketch and paint. He learned from his companions and sought out advice from his mentor Leon Gaspard.”

And Meyers would have the opportunity to exhibit his work along his TSA friends in 1915.Other shows would follow, including the 1917 opening of the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe.

A self-taught artist with only a third grade education, Meyers was never invited to join the TSA but his influence and contributions on the culture and history of Taos is undeniable. This exhibition which includes approximately 30 paintings, offers rare insight into an overlooked and important artist of early 20th century New Mexico.