Fine art

'Moderns from the Vault'

Special retrospective from the Peter Rose Gallery of New York shows in Taos

By Robert Cafazzo
Posted 5/17/18

The art collection of Alexandra and Peter Rose is magnificently eclectic. A treasure chest of art spills into their home in Taos, too much to display on the walls. Instead …

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Fine art

'Moderns from the Vault'

Special retrospective from the Peter Rose Gallery of New York shows in Taos


The art collection of Alexandra and Peter Rose is magnificently eclectic. A treasure chest of art spills into their home in Taos, too much to display on the walls. Instead it is stacked in every room, leaning here and there.

Their passion as collectors of art, books and objets d'art surrounds them. Exactly how much art and what they'll be showing today through Monday (May 17-21) at the Stables Gallery was recently still very much up for debate between the two of them as they planned exactly what to exhibit.

An opening reception for the show is planned Friday (May 18), 5-8 p.m. The Stables Gallery of the Taos Center for the Arts is at 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

The Roses are helping raise funds for Holy Cross Hospital by offering a portion of the proceeds from sales of this important art collection to benefit the hospital. After reading recent stories in The Taos News about the hospital and its needs, Alexandra Rose had the idea to create a fundraising event from their own personal art collection.

This presentation is also meant to showcase a lifetime of collecting art together.

Established in 1972, The Peter Rose Gallery remained a staple in New York City for the next 40 years. The collection primarily speaks of a time when the Roses lived in New York City during the 1970s. "We have so many things. We are getting old, and now it's time to let some of it go for a good cause. It also gives our adult children a chance to understand the depth of our collection. Our expectations are high. We are excited, and a little scared," Alexandra Rose said.

While watching her husband Peter sort through their vast art collection, every now and then Alexandra states emphatically, "No, I don't want to sell that." Mostly Peter will acquiesce, confirming, "We won't be selling it." They may need a second-party curator to come in and break up the stalemates.

The Roses are thinking it through, talking it over and at times trying to remember which one of their daughters will want to keep which particular works of art. The process is not easy.

Featured will be a 12-foot-long David Simpson "Rainbow" painting directly across from the doorway at the Stables Gallery. This is complemented with a few of Simpson's abstract works on paper. Artworks by Simpson are in top museum collections across the world. Peter Rose has been showing his paintings from the very beginning of both their careers.

Fans of abstract expressionism will want to linger at artist Robert Motherwell's 1970 "Africa Suite" series. The Rose collection includes four of these. Motherwell's restrained lyrical brushstroke in these works may keep you pondering.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can float away into a misty dreamscape of the soft delicate "Nocturne, the River at Battersea, Early Morning" (1878) by James McNeill Whistler, a smoky view of the River Thames.

A drawing by Jean Charlot, "Madonna and Child," creates a classic vision for all time. This is a simply stated and masterfully drawn mother and child, pieta-like through the simple use of pencil. Viewers may recognize a similarity to the classic works of R.C. Gorman.

A single work of the "Fraction" series by Larry Bell will be offered. The upcoming Larry Bell "Hocus, Focus and 12" exhibition at the Harwood will include 50 of these works on paper.

A sampling of photographs by Eugene Atget and Berenice Abbott will be included. These are examples of some of the best work in photography exploring the nuances, of light and shadow. Atget and Abbott were two of the proponents of photography as a visual art form.

The artist Maurice Sterne may be best known for bringing Mabel Dodge Luhan to Taos. He was married to her from 1916-1918. The two drawings included by Sterne are from his "Bali" series. It is a treat to see these in Taos. Viewers will be able to see for themselves that he was a talented and dedicated artist.

"Mexican Grandmother" (1936) is a lithograph by Nicolai Fechin, another of the artists with a strong connection to Taos being featured at the Stables. This is a strong example of Fechin's drawing skills. This particular print had at one time been on short-term loan to the Taos Art Museum at Fechin House.

The Peter Rose Gallery has the largest collection of artworks by Anatoli Zverev. Considered the founder of Russian expressionism, the Russian Art Foundation named him a National Treasure. Impressively there is even a Zverev Museum in the center of Moscow. Twelve drawings by him will be on display at the Stables.

What sums up the exhibition best is the screenprint "ART, Bowery Portfolio" (1969) by Robert Indiana. It isn't the better-known iconic imagery of stacked letters spelling "LOVE," which made the artist famous. Instead, the scrambled letters spelling ART says it all about this couple and their love for each other and their love for art.

Even now Peter and Alexandra still can't help themselves from purchasing more art. They see the beauty in their collections, the learning, the experiences they've had together and their relationship with the artists. Recent acquisitions of art by Max Baseman, Cliff and Barbara Harmon, and a few more of the Larry Bell "Fraction(s)" keep them engaged in the Taos art scene. For now these will not be shown at the Stables. These artworks are still near and dear to the Roses' hearts and speak to them of their twilight years in Taos.

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