Sunday, August 21, 2011

Two Artists

Daragh Vaughan was born in Ireland. Like many who come to Truth or Consequences he is a transplant from another part of the world. Delmas Howe, born in El Paso, is not. He grew up in Truth or Consequences. After a career that took him to New York, he returned to the southwest, to Texas in 1975 and to Truth or Consequences in 1984.

Daragh at the keyboard
Both Vaughan and Howe were on display yesterday in different settings.

For Vaughan it was Saturday work as usual at the Truth or Consequences Farmers' Market, singing a three-and-a-half-hour set of folk, rock, pop and Irish ballads under blue skies before a milling crowd of hundreds shopping fresh produce, baked goods, woolens, crafts, tarot readings and haircuts.

His songs include original compositions including at least one celebrating his adopted home town. When it's over he sits on a stone step smoking a cigarette. "Great set," someone says.

"I'm glad you liked it," he says. "I'm really glad you liked it."

Meanwhile a short distance away at 110 East  Broadway the Rio Bravo Fine Arts Gallery is putting final touches on a by invitation only exhibit of Howe's enormous body of work.  It is impressive. Cowboy nudes in Greco-Roman settings line the walls and fill several rooms. The crowd including buyers from Albuquerque and Santa Fe  moves slowly from room to room, taking it in, and refreshing themselves with food and drink. Howe himself is on hand to greet visitors.

The Three Graces
He seems comfortable. This was not always the case. The unapologetic celebration of male nudity by a gay artist was not well received 40 years ago, and was one reason he left New York unable to make a living.  Today it is a different story. At the exhibition Howe prints and originals are on sale for $40 to upwards of $10,000 and more. He is the recipient of numerous awards and the subject of a 2004 film documentary, The Truth or Consequences of Delmas Howe, which in part explores not just his art but living in TorC.

Recently, this past June, one of Howe's early masterpieces, The Three Graces, 1978, was acquired by the Albuquerque Museum and put on display.

" 'The Three Graces' were my first attempt to combine southwest iconography with Greek and Roman mythology," Howe says. The painting was also the cover of a British arts magazine the year after it was done.

Cowboy Angel II
Howe's paintings would continue to delve further into the semi-classical, semi-mythical juxtaposition of Hellenic grandeur and American southwest and gay motifs.

"I see the cowboy as just about the only thing that approaches romantic mysticism in America," he is quoted as saying.

Howe continues that exploration to the present. His Cowboy Angel II painted in 2009 is priced at $15,000. It is a large canvas on oil, 70" by 44".

Howe himself, now 75, stands genially, tall and erect, among the crowd of buyers and well wishers. He shakes hands heartily.

"It's a terrific exhibition," someone says to him. "Thank you so much."

"I'm glad you like it," he says. "I'm really glad you like it."


No comments:

Post a Comment