The Couse Foundation of Taos has announced that The Lunder Foundation of Portland, Maine is providing a grant of $600,000 in support of the Taos Society of Artists archive and research center that will be located in the Mission Gallery building at 138 Kit Carson Road.
The building, according to the announcement, is being acquired by The Couse Foundation later this year.
“After the building is rehabilitated and repurposed it will be known as The Lunder Research Center,” the announcement states. "Additionally, at the request of The Lunder Foundation and with the unanimous support of The Couse Foundation’s board of directors, the main gallery and reception room in The Lunder Research Center will be named in honor of Dean A. Porter. Mr. Porter is the former Director of the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame and is a nationally known scholar and author who has devoted much of his career to scholarship relating to the Taos Society of Artists. Mr. Porter serves as an Advisory Director for The Couse Foundation.”
The Lunder Foundation is a philanthropic organization that has provided major support to Colby College in Waterville, Maine, including the Colby College Museum of Art and The Lunder Institute of American Art, among other beneficiaries.
“This grant from The Lunder Foundation is by far the largest single gift in the history of The Couse Foundation,” Carl Jones, President of The Couse Foundation, said in a prepared statement. “It is a significant endorsement of our vision and will ensure the realization of our goal to create a research center of national importance at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site."
Peter and Paula Lunder, principals of The Lunder Foundation, have stated, “We are very pleased to be able to support this project, which we feel is an important addition to the resources available for the study and appreciation of American art.”
The Lunder Research Center will be the repository for documents and art created, and artifacts collected, by the 12 members of the Taos Society of Artists and scholarly materials relating to the group. These materials include original documents and personal correspondence, photographic prints and negatives, sketchbooks, original works of art, and Native American ethnographic items. The facility will also be home to a research center and library for scholars, students and authors who wish to conduct research relating to the Taos Society of Artists and its individual members.
“The Lunder Research Center will be a major enhancement to the campus at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site and will further elevate the reputation of Taos as an artistic community of international importance," the announcement reads.
In 1915, six American-born, European-trained artists founded the Taos Society of Artists with the mission to promote the authentically American, Native art and culture of the Southwest. The group grew to include 12 active members and several more associate and honorary members.
The Couse-Sharp Historic Site reflects the original goals of these artists and continues to promote their mission, according to information about the site. It site includes the home and studio of Eanger Irving Couse, the garden designed by his wife Virginia, the workshops of his son Kibbey, and the two studios of his neighbor and fellow artist, Joseph Henry Sharp. Couse’s studio and darkroom are maintained in a state very close to how he left them upon his death in 1936.
The site also brings to light the contributions of the models from Taos Pueblo and other indigenous groups who sat for their paintings, as well as the Native artists whose work was collected and used by both artists. Sharp’s later studio, built in 1915, was completely restored in early 2017 and now contains a permanent rotating exhibition of his artwork, personal effects, and Native art he collected and used in his paintings. His earlier studio, converted from an 1835 chapel, hosts changing exhibitions of artwork and contextual material related to the TSA.
All public areas of the site can be toured by appointment, which can be made on its website (couse-sharp.org) or by calling the site office at (575) 751-0369.