Drawing from Wells of inspiration Cady Wells, a modernist who lived in the Pojoaque Valley, created haunting watercolors in the 1930s and 1940s, forming his own dark and electric visual language out of religious folk-art imagery, the rites of the Penitente brotherhood, and the nuclear-bomb work taking place nearby, at Los Alamos.
Wells might be as well known as Georgia O’Keeffe today but for the fact that his darktinted paintings are infamous for reproducing poorly in books and magazines. “When you actually look at his work, the depth of his techniques, the methods he used don’t show up that well in photographs,” said Robin Gavin, a curator at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art who has written about Wells.
Fortunately, Aaron Payne Fine Art is currently exhibiting a wide range of Wells’ work. This is the first of three Wells-oriented shows to hit Northern New Mexico; another career retrospective opens at the University of New Mexico Art Museum in Albuquerque on Jan. 28, and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art shows art from Wells’ collection (and pieces of his own work) beginning Jan. 22.
Last year, Museum of New Mexico Press published Cady Wells and Southwestern Modernism, a handsome monograph on the artist, edited by art historian Lois Rudnick. The author is on hand at Aaron Payne for a reception and book signing on Saturday, Jan. 15, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Aaron Payne Fine Art, 213 E. Marcy St. Refreshments will be served. For information, call 995-9779.
— Casey Sanchez