Visitors are often stunned by the original artwork from the “Taos Six” hanging in our Taos Founders Room. Museums in small towns like La Junta usually do not carry original work from such significant artists. These original six artists, formed the Taos Society of Artists and helped turn the Taos Art Colony into one of the most significant art communities in the world.
A Fortunate Accident
The youth of the Koshare program stumbled upon the founders of the Taos Art Colony on one of their first out-of-state trips.
The historic trip occurred in the 1930s when the scouts traveled to Taos, New Mexico. They spent much of their day walking up and down the dusty unpaved streets in Taos. The boys eventually arrived at a house with a small sign out front which read “Phillips’ Studio.”
Puzzled expressions turned to curiosity as the boys asked their Scoutmaster, Buck Burshears, “Who’s Phillips?” Buck did not have an answer to the question. Their curiosity grew as they pondered silently until one of the kids spoke up and dared another to ring the doorbell.
Not knowing what to say when Phillips appeared Buck recalled, “They stood like fools.” When an elderly man answered the door, Buck apologized for the boys ringing the doorbell and then added, “Mr. Phillps, as you can see, we can’t buy your paintings, but we’d sure like to see your paintings.
The kids made a lot of lifelong friends and have received an education in art that they couldn’t get anywhere else just by marching right up to a door and introducing themselves.
The elderly man, with a welcoming grin, encouraged the boys to enter the studio with a wave of his hand as he said, “Swell, come on in boys!”
Buck and the boys spent a few hours in Phillips’ Studio as he showed them dozens of his paintings and gave them a lecture on the techniques used in his artwork.
By the end of their time with Phillips, the youth of the Koshare Program desperately wanted to own one of his paintings. In later years, the Koshares purchased two paintings by Bert Phillips. In reference to one of their acquisitions, the Koshares have been told the painting may be the greatest and perhaps the finest of Phillips’ works.
The Koshares would eventually discover that the door they knocked on belonged to the famed artist Bert Geer Phillips, who was a founding member of the Taos Art Colony. The youth would eventually become acquainted with several of the artists of the Taos Art Colony and they would acquire original artwork from the six founding members of the group.
These founders fostered the emergence of a major movement in American painting. By inspiring and luring artists from all over the world to establish studios in the community, the Taos Art Colony helped to establish Taos, New Mexico, as one of America’s foremost art communities.
Today, the Koshare Museum houses and features the original artwork, collected by the youth, from the founders of the Taos Art Colony in the special Taos Founders Room within the museum. In addition, several pieces from New Mexican artists from Taos and Santa Fe hang throughout the museum.