Gallery Views: An Homage to E. Irving Couse

May 2nd, 2022


Homage to E. Irving Couse
The third from a series of themed exhibitions drawing on the talent of celebrated Blue Rain Gallery painters

In this special themed exhibition, celebrated Blue Rain Gallery artists paint tribute to a famed founding member of the notable Taos Society of Artists, E. Irving Couse (1866 – 1936). Painters such as Dennis Ziemienski, Matthew Sievers, Erin Currier, Nathan Bennett, Kathryn Stedham, and Rimi Yang—to name just a few—will each select an original composition painted by Couse during his career, and they will pay tribute to the masterwork through their own adaptation and reinterpretation of the original composition.




Eanger Irving Couse was born in Saginaw, Michigan where he was first exposed to Native American culture through the local Chippewa/Ojibwa tribes. He received a formal art education in New York and Paris. His style of painting was greatly influenced by his training in Europe. While in Paris he met his wife, who’s family had a ranch in Washington State. His time spent visiting his wife’s family in Washington State created an opportunity for him to connect with the Yakima, Klikitat, and Umatilla tribes of the region which influenced his first painting of Native Americans. After his studies, Couse spent his time living between New York and Taos, New Mexico. He learned of Taos through a conversation with a friend, Ernest Blumenschein, resulting in his arrival in Taos in 1902. This arrival in Taos, was a turning point for Couse and his art career, eventually leading to his full-time move to Taos in 1928. Couse regularly painted portraits and staged scenes of the Taos Pueblo Indians engaging in casual acts of leisure such as sitting by the fire with blankets, surrounded by pottery, or kneeling by the river with a bow in hand. He was endlessly intrigued by his subjects and sought to capture them in earnest, yet the scenes he painted were mostly staged.


During his long career, he gained the most recognition for his Indian paintings which were reproduced on the calendars of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Company. Couse never felt superior to his subjects and never failed to combine reality with sympathetic understanding. This was a distinguishing characteristic of his work.

Couse was was one of six founding members and the first president of the Taos Society of Artists, a group established in 1915, between friends and fellow painters with similar interests in painting and the region. Fellow founding members Oscar E. Berninghaus, Joseph Henry Sharp, W. Herbert Dunton, Ernest L. Blumenschein, and Bert Geer Phillips collectively made this group the regional art legend it is known as today. The group disbanded in 1927, but during their twelve-year existence, they encouraged each other, challenged each other, and sought to find a national stage for the kind of western painting they had developed.


This exhibition is the third in a series of six scheduled theme exhibitions that cast a spotlight on the pioneering members of the Taos Society of Artists. We present Taos Six Collection: An Homage to E. Irving Couse two years after the debut exhibition of An Homage to Oscar E. Berninghaus, and one year after the exhibition of An Homage to Joseph Henry Sharp. We look forward to scheduled future exhibitions that continue the Taos Six Collection theme: An Homage to W. Herbert Dunton in 2023, An Homage to Ernest L. Blumenschein in 2024, and An Homage to Bert Geer Phillips in 2025. The Taos Society of Artists has captivated many art enthusiasts and collectors over the years. It created an allure that put Taos, New Mexico on the map, both nationally and internationally, as an important art destination. As gallerists that have enjoyed the vitality of the art market in Northern New Mexico for nearly 29 years, we of course feel a certain reverence toward the legacy of the Taos founding painters.



Taos Six Collection: An Homage to E. Irving Couse gives collectors and art enthusiasts alike an opportunity to simultaneously celebrate the past and present. View the show catalogue here.




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