Saturday, November 28, 2015

Living History - Homes of Los Cinco Pintores

Irregular doorway at the Shuster House
If like me, your running or cycling takes you on the occasional rip down Canyon Rd or ascent of Camino Monte Sol, these waypoints pass right through much of Santa Fe's modern history. The roads are intimate and trail-like, the lighting is good, and there are several miles of fine art and architectural design for review and reflection. Along Camino Monte Sol itself, there are the literal homes of some of the artists that brought modernism to Santa Fe and established our capitol as a serious creative hub, and for a time this year nearly all of the original homes of Los Cinco Pintores were on the market in tandem.

The five pintores were Jozef Bakos, Fremont Ellis, Walter Mruk, Willard Nash, and Will Shuster, and four of the five were young and unencumbered enough when new to town that they set about building their own homes from adobe brick, right alongside one another on what would become Camino Monte Sol. None were trained in carpentry or architecture and as the stories go, the 'mud huts' they put up were not easily confused with works of fine art. One story has it that one of the men left his wall-in-progress to lend a hand in the construction of his buddy's wall across the way. He returned to find his own shoddy wall collapsed upon the ground and set about re-building it. Mruk didn't bother with this foolishness and instead bought Frank Applegate's original place nearby (Applegate being an artist and trained architect). Shuster's home is the easiest of the four to spot because it's adorned with his signature and a Zozobra painted mailbox. Mruk/Applegate's is the most impressive. All homes have been heavily refurbished, added to, and upgraded since their dubious foundations were first laid down. Charles Poling collected a nice summary of the Pintores homes, originally published in New Mexico Magazine.

Applegate/Mruk House
Applegate eventually sold to Mruk then bought and refurbished the Francisco de la Pena house down the way on El Caminito. The Thursday night run with the local (Striders) running group zips right by this hidden piece of history before climbing Camino Rancheros. De la Pena was a retired Mexican army sergeant who fought at the Battle of the Alamo then relocated to Santa Fe in the mid 1800's. The most recent owner of this amazing compound was gallery owner Gerald Peters. The Applegate/De la Pena house is also on the market and may be the most magnificent property I've ever visited in Santa Fe (via Showhouse SF this Oct).

Applegate - De la Pena Compound c. 1930s
Gustave Baumann, a personal favorite of mine, built his non-descript place just off of Old Santa Fe Trail around the same time as the others. His place, which was also recently on the market, has a distinctive GB inscribed keystone above the threshold along with several other decorative additions from the artist.(L, Baumann woodblock holiday card, R, Baumann House etching by Tom Miller)

Note:  I recently received an email from artist Tom Miller asking that I include a credit with his work (Baumann home etching, above). Miller - 'I did it (the etching) when I was living in Santa Fe for two years, in 2015/2016. It was completed at Argos studio in Santa Fe, a wonderful studio and gallery up by Dulce and Body. It's worth a visit'. 

I generally make it a point to include credits when possible with re-published images. Often I pull from Google Images which provides no source. Support our artists, credit their work, invest in their efforts.
Fremont Ellis House 586 Camino del Monte Sol (c. 1922)
Jozef Bakos House 576 Camino del Monte Sol, (c. 1923)
Willard Nash House 566-568 Camino del Monte Sol, (c. 1922-23(?), also known as the Goodacre House) Walter Mruk House 558 Camino del Monte Sol, (c. 1921, original Applegate home)
Will Shuster House 550 Camino del Monte Sol, (c. 1922-23(?))

Gustave Baumann House 409 Camino de las Animas (c. 1923)
Applegate Compound 831 El Caminito (c. 1700's; also known as the Francisco de la Pena Estate)

Related Posts:
 - Street Art and the Painted Desert Project
 - Shepard Fairey's Newest Artwork
 - Not Seen on Treadmills - Scholder's Orange Dog
 - Art Filled Sky

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