Alexan­dre Hogue,

Pasatiempo - - Alexander Hogue -

was to imag­ine a great fig­ure un­der the gar­den. …Many years later when I was re­search­ing Taos In­dian folk­ways and re­li­gion … I found that th­ese In­di­ans had an iden­ti­cal con­cept of a great fe­male fig­ure un­der their fields — the Earth Mother, who is fer­til­ized by the sky father, Po-se-yemo, sym­bol­ized by the sun.”

Dust Bowl is less al­le­gor­i­cal. A barbed wire fence runs the width of the paint­ing and sticks out among mounds of blown sand. But a break in the fence draws at­ten­tion to tire tracks that lead one’s eye to a farm — pre­sum­ably aban­doned — sil­hou­et­ted against a blood-red sky buck­led down in the mid­dle by a white-hot sun en­cir­cled by a yel­low aura. Above the sun is blue sky fast be­com­ing oblit­er­ated by the on­set of dusk or an ap­proach­ing dust storm. Ei­ther way, the scene is omi­nous, even sur­real.

Those fa­mil­iar with Ge­or­gia O’Ke­effe’s paint­ing The Red Hills With Sun (1927) may de­tect sim­i­lar­i­ties to Hogue’s Dust Bowl. Both paint­ings have like color schemes, a cen­tral place­ment of the sun, and fea­ture prom­i­nent white orbs con­tained by yel­low auras. Whether or not Hogue was aware of O’Ke­effe’s ear­lier work is not known, but both spent time in West Texas — par­tic­u­larly Palo Duro Canyon — where each wit­nessed such dra­matic nat­u­ral phe­nom­ena. For Hogue the lo­cale was “a place where the sun rises and sun sets and the cloud ef­fects are the envy of the world, and where a man is made to feel ut­terly small and help­less by the Staked Plains.”

Hogue was born in Mem­phis, Mis­souri, the youngest and only boy of six chil­dren. His for­ma­tive years were spent in Den­ton, Texas, where his father was a min­is­ter. His mother was an am­a­teur painter and a grad­u­ate of the Virginia Fe­male In­sti­tute. Its teach­ers echoed the pro­gres­sive teach­ings of John Dewey, who em­pha­sized the use of form and mass over line — a method adopted by Hogue. Fol­low­ing high school in Dal­las, Hogue took a cor­re­spon­dence course in com­mer­cial art, which led to a one-year schol­ar­ship to the Fed­eral School of Com­mer­cial De­sign in Min­neapo­lis, where he also worked at the Bureau of En­grav­ing. Dur­ing that time he be­came skilled at let­ter­ing and at­tended a life draw­ing class at the Min­neapo­lis In­sti­tute of Art be­fore mov­ing back to Texas to be near fam­ily and seek job op­por­tu­ni­ties in Dal­las.

Be­tween 1921 and 1924, Hogue worked for three de­sign firms in New York. His free time was spent tour­ing mu­se­ums and gal­leries, plus study­ing me­dieval script styles and Per­sian cal­lig­ra­phy at the New York Pub­lic Li­brary. He also par­tic­i­pated in open stu­dio ses­sions at the Art Stu­dents League. De­spite be­ing in New York City at a time of re­mark­able artis­tic ac­tiv­ity and ur­ban growth, Hogue pre­ferred the cli­mate, the col­ors, and the wide-open-spa­ces of the South­west. He ac­com­pa­nied Texas artist Frank Reaugh on sum­mer sketch­ing trips through West Texas from 1921 to 1923. Hogue fur­ther fed his South­west long­ings, con­duct­ing sum­mer art classes at Texas State Col­lege for Women in Den­ton and at the YWCA in Glen Rose near Dal­las.

Be­gin­ning in 1926, Hogue be­gan his an­nual so­journs to Taos from Texas and be­came part of the Taos art com­mu­nity. He min­gled with the Taos So­ci­ety of Artists but never be­came a mem­ber. “Be­cause Hogue’s time in New Mex­ico was sea­sonal, he didn’t im­merse him­self as thor­oughly as some Taos So­ci­ety artists did in the spe­cific land­scapes or in­hab­i­tants of New Mex­ico. His was a more gen­eral, land­scape-based in­ter­est in the South­west, with more fo­cus on Ok­la­homa and Texas,” said Udall. None­the­less, Hogue was “an ex­cel­lent am­bas­sador for the artists of Taos,” states Dean Porter, for­mer di­rec­tor of the Snite Mu­seum of Art at the Univer­sity of Notre Dame in In­di­ana, who was ac­quainted with the artist. “Ba­si­cally, [Hogue] brought Dal­las to Taos and Taos to Dal­las.”

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