01-11-2008, 10:15 AM
From the Santa Fe news paper:cool:
once there go to page 28, Pasatiempo, and fri 1/11/2008
Elizabeth Cook-Romero I The New Mexican
Inking long range
Leon Loughridge spent the formative years of his childhood at the Diamond A Cattle Company ranch west of Wagon Mound, New Mexico. The land there is a huge volcanic field more than a mile above sea level.
Although Loughridge left the wind and immense open space of those high, rocky plains to attend high school in Santa Fe, his understanding of New Mexico’s history and landscape was shaped by walking in ruts cut during the 19th century by wagon trains on the Santa Fe Trail. As a young boy he discovered Native American arrowheads half buried among tall grasses and collected shards of broken pottery left behind by both Indians and Anglo traders. His grandmother often told stories about New Mexico history, so even back then, Loughridge understood the significance of the artifacts he found while wandering near his home.
In a recent phone interview from his Denver studio, Loughridge recalled visiting the cattle company’s headquarters at Gallinas Camp, a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. There, from a rock outcropping, Loughridge could look north and see Fisher’s Peak, which is just outside of Trinidad, Colorado. By facing south, he could see Starvation Peak, near San Miguel. Such open spaces taught Loughridge to use distant landmarks to orient himself in the landscape. “ I remember going back East and feeling claustrophobic because there were too many trees,” he added. “I wanted to see something.”
Loughridge’s woodblock prints of the Santa Fe Trail convey his sense of ease in wide, open spaces — no small feat in works that are less than 8 inches square. Loughridge has created a limited- edition book that combines those prints with his writings about the trail, his family’s history, and excerpts from historical writings. Woodblocks of the Santa Fe Trail, The Mountain Branch Through New Mexico is released in a signed and numbered edition of 43. A show featuring the book as well as individual prints opens on Friday, Jan. 11, at Gerald Peters Gallery.
Several of Loughridge’s prints depict landmarks that helped settlers, traders, and Native Americans position themselves in the landscape.
Las Vegas and Hermit Peak shows the familiar mountain seen from a grassy hill. Long shadows and soft grays, yellows, lavenders, and greens communicate that the sun is low in the sky, but Loughridge doesn’t reveal whether the day is beginning or ending.
In Pecos Mission, the crumbling adobe church looks more like a rocky outcropping than anything made by human hands. As in most of Loughridge’s prints, the ink is so thick that the dark sides of scrubby pines and the deep- blue undersides of clouds have ridges that stand out from the paper. Loughridge acknowledges that his habit of using thick ink horrifies some printers. “ Commercially, there is way too much ink on my prints, but I love the tactile, textual quality,” he noted.
Loughridge’s technique is called reduction woodblock printing.
Although some prints have more than 16 colors, he usually makes each image with only three blocks. After printing the lightest colors, which cover the largest areas, Loughridge cuts more of each block away and uses it to print several layers of middle tones. He prints dark colors last, using blocks that have little printing area left. “It’s more like painting than doing traditional woodblock printing,” he said. “It’s interactive all the way through the process.”
In Looking East From “The Raton,” Loughridge places the horizon in the lower half of the image and uses careful gradations of blues — from a pale warm tone near the earth to light cerulean near the zenith. That expanse of sky provides a sense of proportion for the light-gray mountains in the distance. Colors get cleaner and brighter in the foreground, but there are no true darks or brights in Looking East. Loughridge suggests the crystal*clear vistas of Northern New Mexico with a narrow range of colors and tones. Studying the print, it becomes obvious that a touch of darker green or brighter blue would destroy its spell.
Loughridge develops his color combinations through walking the land and observing, not through theories. “There are times in the spring when you would swear you are in Hawaii; it’s lush, green, and beautiful,” he said about the lava-strewn land around Wagon Mound.
Loughridge began this suite of prints about the Santa Fe Trail when he returned to Wagon Mound to bury his aunt’s ashes. “ Oh my goodness,” he said, “ when I went back I remembered everything. As kids we were just turned loose — if we wanted lunch, we came home for lunch.” If he and his brother didn’t come home at midday, nobody worried. “We had dogs that traveled with us, so we were safe.”
As Loughridge speaks about his boyhood he usually returns to talking about the trail. “There’s a huge difference between the Oregon Trail and the Santa Fe Trail. On the Oregon Trail there were a lot of families moving West to settle down. There was only one reason to be on the Santa Fe Trail: to trade, make money, and get back to Missouri and spend it.”
The deep ruts, pottery shards, and arrowheads Loughridge examined as a boy left him with a life-long love of history. He finds it easy to look at present-day New Mexico and imagine how perilous the Santa Fe Trail once was. “The mountain branch was considered the safer route, but where do you water your animals?” he said. “The trip from Raton down to Cimarron doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but once you leave the Canadian River, which was called the Red River back then, the next water is about 12 miles away at Armijo Creek. And that takes a day on wagons. They needed guides to show them where the water was.”
Loughridge’s knowledge of history makes him think that people and the land are caught in ancient cycles. “You realize a lot of things have changed,” he said. “ We have better vehicles, and we have cellphones — but it’s pretty much the same. The Gallinas Camp is still in the middle of nowhere. It’s 7,500 to 8,000 feet up on that plain, and when the snow comes, you’d better be ready. So, it hasn’t changed that much.” ◀
▼ Woodblocks of the Santa Fe Trail, The Mountain Branch Through New Mexico, work by Leon Loughridge
▼ Opening Friday, Jan. 11; exhibit through Feb. 16
▼ Gerald Peters Gallery, 1011 Paseo de Peralta, 954-5700
Leon Loughridge: Apache Chapel, woodblock print, 7.5 x 7.5 inches Top, Dry Cimarron Valley, woodblock print, 7.5 x 7.5 inches
Pecos Mission, woodblock print, 7.5 x 7.5 inches Below, cover and inside of Woodblocks of The Santa Trail, The Mountain Branch Through New Mexico Courtesy Gerald Peters Gallery
Las Vegas, woodblock print, 7.5 x 7.5 inches
01-11-2008, 05:02 PM
Thanks for posting that Matt:thumb::beer:
01-11-2008, 07:35 PM
Perry's dad was nice enough to show me how he makes some of these and the press. It's very cool and he's a real neat guy to talk to.
01-14-2008, 08:32 AM
If you go to the Stock Show make sure to check out his work in person. It is on display in the Coors Art Exhibit (3rd floor Hall of Education).
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