Friday, April 3, 2009

Harold Joe Waldrum, "Morning Light"


Morning Light
Aquatint etching, 1991

Joe Waldrum is best known for his paintings, aquatint etchings, and linocuts of the adobe churches and mud-hewn moradas of New Mexico. His color-saturated paintings have minimal lines, but he has mastered the use of light and shadow to portray these sacred places. For several years Waldrum made his “window series:, which were works with the “painting as a window” type of composition. Just as Matisse, Magritte, and other artists have been drawn to that format, so was Waldrum. The churches of New Mexico proved to be a passionate subject for him as he depicted the spiritual and mysterious aspects of these earthy structures in his works.

Harold Joe Waldrum was born in Savoy, Texas on August 23, 1934. He earned a college degree in music from Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, and a master’s degree in studio painting from Fort Hays State College in Kansas. Waldrum taught art and music in the public schools of Kansas for sixteen years. In 1970 he moved to the hill country of Texas and then in 1971 to Santa Fe, New Mexico. After he killed a man during a break-in in his studio, Waldrum moved to New York for a time to escape the man’s angry relatives. By 1979 he had returned to New Mexico and began painting the churches. He lived on a remote ranch and raised mules. In 1994 Waldrum had a book published with provocative essays, photographs of his “Mountain Ranch” mules, and color reproductions of his work. Joe Waldrum died in 2003 in his beloved New Mexico.

Quotes from the artist:
“There is a beautiful place in the United States of America. It is in northern New Mexico between the two mountain ranges. This place is called “The Cradle”. Its people, the land, and its elements are special and peculiar. I find the genius of this place reflected in the churches”.

“When my analyst in New York identified me as socially schizophrenic, I felt better knowing that my malady had a name; and when I first saw the mountain range of the thieves...I felt better knowing there was a place for the socially schizophrenic to live.”

This information compiled from articles from Artspace Quarterly, the online gallery of Rio Bravo Fine Arts, and the online archives of AskART.

-- Lois Smalley