Kloss was born in California in 1903 and lived for nearly a decade in Colorado, but she spent most of her life in New Mexico. During her long career, she recorded the sights that could be seen in her own back yard or just beyond it, in the art-friendly town of Taos.
A genius at capturing atmosphere, Kloss ably manipulates black ink on white paper, as is shown off in pieces such as "Saints Day Processional" (above), a drypoint of a mission church with the congregants coming on foot to attend Mass. This print dates from 1959, but stylistically it looks much older. That's because Kloss established her style, a kind of Southwestern regionalism, when she started way back in the '30s. Kloss never varied from this regionalist style, regardless of what was happening in the art world outside her studio. For her, that was clearly the right move.
Kloss is skilled at drawing, and her compositions are invariably lively and well conceived. Her signature depictions of buildings and of the activities around them are wonderful and fully capture the romance of the region.
The Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center in Pueblo lent the Kloss prints to the CSFAC. The Pueblo institution has an almost encyclopedic collection of her work, the result of a single generous gift from local collector John Armstrong.
This show is one of several attractions at the CSFAC that zero in on art out West. Also on display are photos of the Old West in A Moment in Time, paintings from the same fabled era depicted in Discovering America, and art that was made for tourists in The Way West (see the review).
Gene Kloss: Southwestern Printmaker closes on November 23.