The artist in res­i­dence

The Gus­tave Bau­mann house

Pasatiempo - - ON THE COVER - Paul Wei­de­man

Eleven years be­fore Gus­tave Bau­mann built his house on East Buena Vista Av­enue, the City of Santa Fe de­cided to stan­dard­ize a build­ing form based on the old adobes in town, pri­or­i­tiz­ing his­toric ar­chi­tec­ture to in­crease tourism. Res­i­dents sub­se­quently built houses and com­mer­cial struc­tures in what came to be known as Span­ish-Pue­blo Re­vival style, or sim­ply Santa Fe Style. These struc­tures had por­tales ei­ther in­set in the front or ex­tend­ing all along the build­ing — but Bau­mann, in­stead, plopped a tiny pro­ject­ing porch over his front door.

While he chose to sub­vert the new dom­i­nant par­a­digm in that re­gard, he greatly am­pli­fied an­other qual­ity of many of the older houses, and one that the city fa­thers ne­glected to in­clude in their Santa Fe Style cod­i­fi­ca­tion: dec­o­ra­tion. Bau­mann elab­o­rately carved the wooden posts sup­port­ing his lit­tle porch, carved just one of the lin­tels over the front win­dows (one of the in­stances in which we un­der­stand that he was not overly anx­ious about sym­me­try), and em­bla­zoned the front-door lin­tel with painted dec­o­ra­tions and the let­tered “G.B.” and “MCMXXIII.”

On Nov. 15, 1923, the Santa Fe New Mex­i­can re­ported that “the bach­e­lor artist” Gus­tave Bau­mann had fin­ished his house: “It is unique and wor­thy of an artist. Built of adobe it con­tains no ve­gas [sic] or wooden ceil­ings; heated by hot wa­ter, the ra­di­a­tors are con­cealed be­hind gilded screens in the walls; the hall con­spic­u­ously ab­sent from the old time adobe house is there with this ad­di­tion: day­light from a roof win­dow and elec­tric light at night shin­ing through the roof; there is a big room but at the back of the house; there are In­dian fire­places; there is a sleep­ing porch with can­vas win­dows which do not rat­tle dur­ing a storm. It is the house ex­tra­or­di­nary. In the cen­ter is a vault where Mr. Bau­mann stores his wood cuts.”

The New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum and the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art of­fer tours of the his­toric house on the af­ter­noon of Satur­day, Sept. 29, as part of their “A Gath­er­ing for Gus” symposium, which cel­e­brates the cen­ten­nial of Bau­mann’s ar­rival in Santa Fe.

Bau­mann had lived for the past sev­eral years in an old Methodist church on lower San Fran­cisco Street and in an apart­ment on Canyon Road be­fore he found the site for the house. With a de­sign in mind, he hired ar­chi­tect Tjalke Charles Gaas­tra to pre­pare pro­fes­sional draw­ings, ac­cord­ing to an ar­chi­tec­ture study on the house au­thored by Cather­ine Colby in 2009. Gaas­tra’s other Santa Fe de­signs in­clude the 1920 Cas­sell Build­ing on the Santa Fe Plaza (which was re­mod­eled by John Gaw Meem in 1954 as the First Na­tional Bank), and the

1928 Bishop’s Lodge. The ar­chi­tect’s brother, Ge­orge Gaas­tra, served as builder on the Bau­mann project.

The house at 409 Camino de las An­i­mas (as the street was at some point re­named) has changed very lit­tle since Bau­mann’s time. The para­pets still sport the Ter­ri­to­rial-style brick cop­ing, and the artist’s ce­ment som­brero bird­bath re­mains in the front yard. Dis­tinc­tive el­e­ments con­front the vis­i­tor im­me­di­ately upon en­ter­ing the abode. You first find your­self in an oc­tag­o­nal room with a large oc­tag­o­nal sky­light. On ei­ther side of the door are built-in ra­di­a­tor cov­ers fronted with carved wood blocks that were once used by the Ger­man-born artist to make prints. Above the cor­ner fire­place is a print of the deer-hunt pic­tographs that he doc­u­mented in Fri­joles Canyon. High on the walls, Bau­mann painted a band around the perime­ter of the room with styl­ized shapes based on Pue­blo mo­tifs. Within that band, he painted a tight series of sil­ver discs. In the mid­dle of each one, he set a nail: a prac­ti­cally in­vis­i­ble so­lu­tion for hang­ing prints.

This room was Bau­mann’s gallery, in­tended to dis­play prints and paint­ings for his cus­tomers. The cen­ter of the house has his fire­proof wood-block safe. Be­yond that is a large room with a bank of north­fac­ing win­dows that, for the first few years of the house’s ex­is­tence, served as his stu­dio. A year after his 1925 mar­riage to Jane Dev­ereux Hen­der­son of Den­ver, Bau­mann added a de­tached stu­dio build­ing in the back­yard so they could have an ac­tual liv­ing room.

Bau­mann lived in the house un­til his death in 1971. His artis­tic legacy, be­sides his for­mal art­works and his fa­mous mar­i­onettes, re­sides in this house. He painted thou­sands of marks around doors and win­dows and mold­ings. A won­der­ful wooden tie rack, made in the form of a woman hold­ing an um­brella with one leg and one arm out­stretched, swings out from the wall be­hind the bed­room door.

The pal­ette of col­ors Bau­mann em­ployed on the walls and his dec­o­ra­tive marks rep­re­sent an­other con­trast with what was fa­vored in 1920s Santa Fe — a house’s white walls and dark wood­work. The home has “a very Art Deco qual­ity to it,” said Tim Rodgers, who cu­rated the 2009 New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art ex­hi­bi­tion Pulling Strings: The Mar­i­onettes and Art of Gus­tave Bau­mann, in a 2010 in­ter­view with the His­toric Santa Fe Foun­da­tion. “His ear­lier prints from In­di­ana have some Arts and Crafts ideas, but by the time he’s in that house, he’s em­bel­lish­ing with sil­ver leaf and us­ing an oc­tagon and has that or­ange-green color pal­ette, all of which re­mind me of the Art Deco styling.”

In 1991, his­to­rian Corinne P. Sze in­ter­viewed Anne Al­brink, who owned the Bau­mann house for 33 years be­gin­ning in 1976, for one of the foun­da­tion’s Bul­letin pub­li­ca­tions. Ann Bau­mann, Gus­tave and Jane’s daugh­ter, told Al­brink that the walls used to be washed an­nu­ally with mild Ivory Snow soap and warm wa­ter. “But I’ve never done it since I moved in be­cause I’m afraid to do it,” Al­brink told Sze. She con­fessed that her stew­ard­ship of the house was ba­si­cally “a very ex­pen­sive hobby.” The house, to her, was “like a beau­ti­ful jewel,” she said, but it was also a sig­nif­i­cant re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Bau­mann lived in the house from 1923 un­til his death in 1971. His artis­tic legacy re­sides there.

Al­brink loved the de­sign of the house, in­clud­ing its small kitchen and its un­usual shape with that con­crete room in the mid­dle. “Peo­ple don’t know ex­actly what to ex­pect,” she said. “I love it when lit­tle kids dis­cover that they can run a to­tal cir­cle around in­side the house.”

Bau­mann did two more ad­di­tions in the decade or so after his mar­riage. In 1927, the year that Ann Bau­mann was born, he added a bed­room and a sun­room to the east side of the house. Ten years later, he built a wood­work­ing shop onto the stu­dio. That en­larged build­ing, and a shed to the west, sport un­usual alu­minum “dashed” mold­ings nailed around in pat­terns onto cer­tain doors and win­dows. “He painted these things,” said Alan “Mac” Wat­son, prin­ci­pal of the build­ing-restora­tion com­pany Wat­son Con­serves. “One of his fa­vorite paints was this alu­minum pig­mented paint. He loved these glit­ter­ing sur­faces. He used it on lots of pic­ture frames, as well. We got the last gal­lon of sil­ver-col­ored ra­di­a­tor paint left in Santa Fe to do the re­hab.

“Some peo­ple see these dec­o­ra­tive things and say, ‘That’s so aw­ful,’ but it’s just authen­tic. We’re not go­ing to dis­agree with his aes­thetic.”

Wat­son is board chair­man of the non­profit His­toric Santa Fe Foun­da­tion, which ac­quired the Bau­mann House in March 2009 and per­formed com­pre­hen­sive re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion work. A new boiler was pur­chased and the heat­ing sys­tem switched to hot-wa­ter heat. The orig­i­nal Ar­cola boiler is now used as a ra­di­a­tor, and dou­bles as a steam­punk-look­ing artifact in the liv­ing room.

A re­port by con­ser­va­tor Bet­tina Raphael, who an­a­lyzed the house’s painted sur­faces, says, “Both bed­rooms and the din­ing room have dec­o­ra­tive ef­fects above door­ways, on cab­i­netry and high on the walls that look like they were made by trail­ing a fin­ger through the wet paint to ex­pose the lower, lighter col­ored layer.” All of Bau­mann’s cre­ative marks, and in­deed the very paint on the walls, have been pre­served, even with a coat­ing of nearly a cen­tury’s worth of fire­place smoke and cook­ing va­pors. “I don’t think they’re show­ing their true beauty,” Rodgers said in 2010. “In our minds, the tone of the house may have been a lit­tle closer to the tone of his prints, more bril­liant. Right now it feels smoky and washed-out.”

When the restora­tion work was com­plete, the His­toric Santa Fe Foun­da­tion put the house on the mar­ket, with a com­pre­hen­sive his­toric-preser­va­tion ease­ment added to the deed. It was sub­se­quently pur­chased by Nancy Meem Wirth. “In the ease­ment, the foun­da­tion al­lowed an ex­pan­sion on the west side for an­other bed­room and a kitchen ex­ten­sion,” Wat­son said. “One of the rea­sons Nancy wanted to ac­quire it is that she dis­ap­proved of the idea of some­body adding more to the Bau­mann house.”

Wat­son, ar­chi­tect Bev­er­ley Spears, and vet­eran restora­tion car­pen­ter Grey How­ell spent a year and a half work­ing on im­prove­ments to the house for the new owner. They fo­cused es­pe­cially on up­dat­ing the kitchen and bath­room, but also re­placed ex­te­rior brick walk­ways and re­ha­bil­i­tated Bau­mann’s gates. The fences around those gates are sim­ple and in­ge­nious, made up of rows of short latil­las capped by three boards in an up­side-down trough form. “There are other fences like this on the east side. Some­body did one and it spread,” Wat­son said.

Wat­son told the story be­hind a pe­cu­liar dog door cut into the bot­tom of a hu­man door. The dog door is quite small and has a rounded cutout below it, in the bot­tom rail of the door. “Ann Bau­mann had a dachs­hund named Till, after the Ger­man trick­ster fig­ure Till Eu­len­spiegel. She re­al­ized at one point that Till’s gen­i­tals were un­usu­ally ten­der, so Bau­mann cus­tom­ized that dog door so he [Till] could get in and out with­out bruis­ing his pe­nis.” This was un­doubt­edly one of the most use­ful and thought­ful cus­tomiza­tions of the artist’s unique res­i­dence.

Bau­mann house de­tail pho­tos Paul Wei­de­man Op­po­site page, photo of Jane and Gus­tave Bau­mann House cour­tesy His­toric Santa Fe Foun­da­tion; bot­tom, Bau­mann: A Geo­graph­i­cal Trea­tise To­gether with Greetings From Jane and Gus­tave Bau­mann, 1927, color wood­cut, col­lec­tion of the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.