THE LUMPKINS LEGACY: Bill’s Last Request

William Lumpkins Jr- Matthews Gallery Art Opening

William Lumpkins Jr. next to his father’s serigraph “Abstract Landscape #3

At last Friday’s opening of NEW MEXICO MODERNS: The Lumpkins Files, William Lumpkins Jr. was a quiet presence. He stood to the side surveying his father’s work or chatted softly with visitors, many of whom were family friends. One woman had known his dad, who died in 2000, through an art discussion group that met at local coffeehouses. “Whenever Bill spoke, we all had to lean in. He was such a lovely, gentle man,” she said.

Will’s father may have passed down his mild temperament, but both men are also legendary for their fierce artistic passion. Will has carefully preserved the artwork in The Lumpkins Files show for years, and meanwhile has developed his own artistic style. The jacket he wore to the show was emblazoned with intricate celtic knots and a dragonfly.

When we asked about his dad, the more colorful side of Will’s personality emerged. Here’s William Lumpkins’ son on his father’s never-before-seen artwork, and why he decided to release it more than 15 years after Lumpkins’ death.

 What’s it like to see your dad’s work hanging in the gallery? 

Well, his work was all around us growing up, so it’s not that strange. The gallery did an excellent job though.

When did you first bring the work to Matthews Gallery?

About a year and a half ago. I had shopped around and didn’t relate to anybody until I met Larry.

Where did you keep it for all these years? 

I had it in a case between sheets of acid-free paper. When I was teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University, I was in charge of museology. It was a whole print and painting conservation training program. So my dad knew that I could take care of them. Watercolors in particular are a sensitive thing for archiving.

Why didn’t he want you to release them until now? 

It didn’t have to do with the work. He said to me, ‘Okay, you wait until after you’re 70 because by then your personal artistic statement will be you. You won’t have to mimic me.’ So at 70, my artwork was me and I brought these out again.

Were you ever tempted to release them before that? 

No, it just didn’t seem right until I started looking around recently. I trusted you guys.

One of the biggest surprises in this body of work was the watercolor from 1937. That’s one of the earliest Lumpkins pieces we’ve ever seen. Did you know it was in there?

I knew that the work spanned a lot of time. When Dad was closing down the studio, he picked these out because these were the ones that he really liked from different points in his career. He felt that they were significant, and that they weren’t typical. His typical work is pretty well-known, but these he wanted to hold out so that they’d be totally new.

What was your vision for this show? 

I gave the work to Larry and said, ‘Do you what you think is best.’ I just want them to be out in the open where they can be seen. If people want them enough, if people like them a lot, that’s good.

Hear more from Will Lumpkins in this week’s Pasatiempo, and visit the show at Matthews Gallery through Friday, April 25. For more images from the opening, check out our photos page and connect with us on Facebook and Instagram.

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START YOUR BIDDING: Colorful lots from our fall online auction

Matthews Art Auctions- Camille Boutet- Artfact

Our European, American and Southwestern Art Auction just started on Artfact.com, and it features a particularly vibrant line-up of lots. The charming image above is a color lithograph from turn of the century France by Camille Boutet. It shows three children peering longingly into a confectioner’s shop, and would make a lovely holiday gift. The best part? Bidding starts at $50. Read about more of our offerings below, and make sure to bid before the auction ends on November 17.

Frank Morbillo- Arched Axe- Artfact Auctions

Lot 41: Frank Morbillo- Arched Axe
Starting bid: $350
Estimated value: $450-$900

Arched Axe” is from Frank Morbillo’s sculpture series inspired by the simple, elegant lines of prehistoric hand tools. Several other glass and bronze works from the set appear in the sale, including “Ceremonial Serpent Axe“, which features an intricate floral motif, and the swanlike “Honing Axe“.

Bertram Hartman- Still Life- Artfact Auctions

Lot 59: Bertram Hartman (1882-1996)- Still Life
Starting bid: $250
Estimated value: $350-$750

Bertram Hartman (1882-1960) was born in Kansas and received training at the Art Institute of Chicago. He continued his studies at the Royal Academy in Munich and Paris, drawing inspiration from Impressionism and other modernist movements. His European influences are clear in this impeccable impasto still life.

Jamie Chase- Bather by the Sea- Artfact Auctions

Lot 70: Jamie Chase- Bather by the Sea
Starting bid: $400
Estimated price: $600-$900

Jamie Chase’s well-known figurative work and his latest experiments with landscape painting combine in “Bather by the Sea“. An abstracted nude  stands on the shore, and the surrounding landscape seems to radiate her serene mood. Jamie’s “Seen” and “Iconic II” are also up for sale in the auction.

Ernest Blumenschein on Artfact

Lot 86: Ernest Blumenschein (1874-1960)- Loading
Starting bid: $700
Estimated price: $2,000-$3,500

Ernest L. Blumenschein (1874-1960) was a founding member of the Taos Society of Artists, and is known for his stunning portrayals of the Southwestern landscape and people. In “Loading” the artist pays homage to his home state of Ohio. A lone figure smokes a cigarette and watches the activity at the Conneaut Mill across the tracks.

William Lumpkins- The Red Sky- Artfact Auctions

Lot 91: William Lumpkins (1909-2000)- The Red Sky
Starting bid: $400
Estimated price: $600-$1,000

William Lumpkins- Pink Handle- Artfact Auctions

Lot 97: William Lumpkins (1909-2000)- Pink Handle
Starting bid: $400
Estimated price: $600-$1,000

The Red Sky” and “Pink Handle” are from a series of never-before-seen artworks by legendary Santa Fe modernist William Lumpkins (1909-2002). The work was recently released from the collection of a Lumpkins family member, and also features a series of serigraphs.

Ed Levin- Kachina- Artfact Auctions

Lot 102: Eli Levin- Kachina (after Louie Ewing)
Starting bid: $175
Estimated value: $400-$600

Contemporary Southwestern painter and printmaker Eli Levin pays tribute to legendary Santa Fe printmaker Louie Ewing (1908-1983) in this silkscreen of a Pueblo kachina doll. In the 1930s, Ewing received a grant from the WPA’s Federal Art Project to pursue printmaking, and is largely responsible for the enduring popularity of printmaking among contemporary Southwestern artists.

Bettina Steinke- Santa Clara Dancer- Artfact Auctions

Lot 106: Bettina Steinke (1913-1999)- Santa Clara Dancer
Starting bid: $50
Estimated value: $400-$500

Bettina Steinke (1913-1999) moved to Taos in the 1950s, where she opened a gallery with her husband and mentored young artists. She moved to Santa Fe in the 1970s. The artist was known for her vivid portraits of the Pueblo people, and was particularly interested in traditional Native dancers. Other historic New Mexico artists featured in the auction include Fremont Ellis, John McHugh and Hannah Holliday Stewart.

Check out the European, American and Southwestern Art Auction on Artfact to browse all 116 lots, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to see more highlights from the sale. The auction ends on November 17 at 7:00 pm.