Editor's note: The Sangre de Cristo Arts & Conference Center provided source material to Resource Library for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Sangre de Cristo Arts & Conference Center directly through either this phone number or web address:
The Best of the King Collection
August 11 - October 27, 2007
Explore this beautiful western art collection donated to Sangre de Cristo Arts & Conference Center by Francis King in 1980. He recognized that through the eyes of these artists we could gain insight into the spirit and history of the region. Works of The Taos Ten are included in this exhibit. Following is text from the exhibition galleries:
The Francis King Collection of Western Art: A Brief History
Francis King was born in Pueblo, Colorado, on July 30th, 1902 to George Edward and Minerva "Minnie" King. He graduated from Centennial High School in 1920. After graduation, he began working with his father, George E King, founder of King Lumber.
After the flood of 1921, the lumber business boomed. The industries that decided to remain in Pueblo required rebuilding, as did the homes of the flood victims. To prevent such a disastrous event from recurring, the Pueblo Conservancy District was created. The District initiated a project of building a cement retaining wall to rechannel the Arkansas River and contain future flood waters. This project required the goods and services that King Lumber was in business to offer. Francis' job for four years was making sure that there was enough cement for the contractors of the conservancy project to complete their portion of the wall. The environment of a booming town, Western folklore, his father's example, and his personal experiences helped Francis to learn to appreciate the West, its history, the integrity of its inhabitants, and the rewards of hard work.
Shortly after his marriage to his first wife, Katherine Jackson, in 1930, they began collecting art. Motivated to purchase a piece of art simply to adorn the walls of their new home, they set out for Taos. Through numerous trips to galleries, advice from artists and other collectors, and literature, the novice collector quickly became educated in Western art. They began their collection with the purchase of Thomas L. Lewis's painting "Lower Hondo Valley".
Because of his interest in Western art he was for many years a member of the Gilcrease Museum Association in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and a member of the Cowboy Hall of Fame Association in Oklahoma City.
Francis retired from King Lumber in 1965 at age 63, but remained Chairman of the Board. Mr. King was a great supporter of Pueblo, and through the years was active in many community organizations, having been president of the YMCA, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Rotary Club.
Throughout the years, Francis accumulated a visually rich and historic collection of Western art. Mr. King was first approached as a donor in 1978 by a trustee of the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center who recognized the value and significance of the collection to this region. On February 22, 1980, Francis King signed documents officially donating his collection of Western Art to the Board of Trustees of the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center.
The collection, valued at over two-thirds of a million dollars, originally consisted of one hundred paintings and one bronze sculpture. At that time, it was one of the largest gifts ever given by an individual to the city and county of Pueblo. Today the collection has grown to over 250 pieces, valued at over 1.6 million dollars.
The collection spans over one hundred-fifty years of our Western history and represents a rich diversity of styles and subject matter. It begins with artist Joseph Hitchins in 1825, and includes such greats as Gerald Cassidy, John Clymer, Gerard C. Delano, Frank Tenney Johnson, William Moyers, O. C. Seltzer, and Harvey Otis Young.
Also noteworthy are all of the Taos Society of Artists, representing the Western American art colony: Kenneth Miller Adams, Oscar E. Berninghaus, E. L. Blumenschein, E. Irving Couse, Herbert Dunton, E. Martin Hennings, Victor Higgins, Bert Geer Phillips, Joseph H. Sharp, and Walter Ufer.
Through the eyes of these artists, we gain an insight into the spirit and color of the West, vividly recreating the world of the open-range cowboy, the Indians, the buffalo, the trappers, traders and scouts, the settlers, the railroads, the rugged mountains, plains and deserts -- a romantic and picturesque record of a period unique to America.
Pueblo native, businessman, and philanthropist Francis E. King passed away June 9, 1991, at the age of 89.
The Taos Society of Artists
Taos Valley is a wide, flat plain in northern New Mexico, lying between the Sangre de Cristo mountains and the Rio Grande river. In 1898, two men, Ernest L Blumenschein and Bert Phillips, visited this region which was so ethnographically and geograpically rich. These were the men who began the Taos art colony. When they arrived, only about 25 Anglos resided in the village. Thirty years later the little town was known worldwide as a center where artists lived or visited.
In 1912, the year New Mexico became a state, six men founded the influential professional club called the Taos Society of Artists. They were: Joseph Henry Sharp, Bert Phillips, Ernest L. Blumenschein, Oscar E. Berninghaus, E. Irving Couse and W. Herbert Dunton. In later years they invited Victor Higgins, Walter Ufer, E. Martin Hennings and Kenneth M. Adams to become members. Catherine Carter Critcher, the only woman, was also invited to be a member due to her many visits to Taos from the East coast. The ten men became commonly known as The Taos Ten. All of the Taos Ten are represented in the Francis King Collection of Western Art.
The original members of the Taos Society of Artists attracted many followers to Taos. Among those followers were Barbara Latham, Ila McAfee, Gene Kloss, and Emil Bisttram. These artists works are represented in the King Collection as well.
The Francis King Collection of Western Art - A Sampling
Credit lines pending for these images:
Hat First Boots
Sop & Taters
Editor's note: RL readers may also enjoy:
Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Sangre de Cristo Arts & Conference Center in Resource Library.
Visit the Table of Contents for Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.
© Copyright 2007 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.