|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
Applegate, an author, painter, potter and woodcarver, lived in Santa Fe
for only a decade, but he had a profound impact on the city and the
cultural region. The things that make Santa Fe a "city different"
today, such as the Pueblo Revival architecture, the intermingling of
Spanish, Indian and Anglo cultures, and the celebration of art, are the
very things Applegate admired and defended.|
Books on American
arts and crafts note his efforts to revive Spanish Colonial art, but
make no mention of his own studio pottery or his work with Hopi
potters. Likewise, scholars who have read his books of southwestern
folklore know nothing about his fine woodcarving. Museum curators who
admire his contributions to their collections of Indian pottery and
Spanish Colonial art are often unaware of his devotion to Pueblo
Applegate moved to New Mexico from
Philadelphia in 1921. In New Mexico, he exhibited his work more
frequently than he had back East, due largely to the nurturing artistic
atmosphere of Santa Fe and the open-door policy at the Santa Fe Museum
of fine Arts. His style evolved constantly during the decade he lived
in Santa Fe, as he experimented with different forms, techniques and
media. While he devoted most of his talent and energy to painting,
Applegate also tried his hand at etching, wood or linoleum block
cutting, woodcarving, adobe sculpting and even religious art in the New
Mexican Hispanic tradition. Still, it is as a painter that he is best
Although the paintings of the Santa Fe modernists,
including Applegate, displayed abstract qualities, the majority of
paintings made in the early 1920s were representational. While it would
be several years before Raymond Johnson became New Mexico's first
well-known abstractionist, Applegate and the other modernist artists
examined and focused on the geometric elements in nature, emphasizing
them in their designs, as well as conveying their emotions toward the
objects and scenes they painted.
Three of the Santa Fe artists
whom Applegate first accompanied on sketching or painting trips, were
B.J.O. Nordfeldt, Andrew Dasburg and Josef Bakos. Like Applegate, the
three were influenced by Paul Cezanne.
The artists living in
Santa Fe in the early 1920s had limited contact with the better-known,
more traditional ones residing in Taos. Although several of the Taos
Society's members, including Ernest Blumenschein and Victor Higgins,
showed enthusiasm for the work of the Santa Fe modernists, the Taos
Society collectively was known for its realistic, traditional,
On June 6, 1923, Applegate, Bakos,
Gustave Baumann, Ernest Blumenschein, William Penhallow Henderson,
Victor Higgins, Nordfeldt and Walter Ufer met at Nordfeldt's studio and
organized the New Mexico Painters. They exhibited their work in eastern
and mid-western galleries and museums, as well as in the West and
regularly at the Santa Fe Museum of Fine Arts.
By June 1924,
five more artists had joined the New Mexico Painters---John Sloan,
Randall Davey, Andrew Dasburg, Theodore Van Soelen and Walter Mruk.
They exhibited, in this year, at the San Diego Museum, Los Angeles
County Museum and Art Institute of Chicago.
By the mid-1920s,
Applegate abandoned oils almost entirely to devote himself to
watercolors. He concentrated on landscapes, but also painted town and
street scenes, Indian ceremonies and rural Hispanic villages. His early
watercolors are characterized by the use of dots for vegetation,
serpentine strokes for hills and bold splashes of brushwork for the
sky. Later, his paintings took on a somewhat Oriental feeling, with
more delicate, calligraphic brushwork, possibly inspired by Japanese
prints he owned.
In this period more than any other, Applegate's
paintings show a relationship to some of Cezanne's from the mid-to-late
1880s, especially the French artist's depictions of Mont
Throughout his career, Applegate's palette
stayed in the dark range, with blues and greens offset by blocks of
fiery rust. He often went over the darker colors in his watercolors
with a wash to lighten their intensity. Brief touches of bright paint,
sparely applied, draw the viewer's eye to some simply-executed detail,
such as a tree, heels of a wagon, or field. People, burros and man-made
objects were often a compilation of black geometric shapes, simply
facets of the overall design. The resulting work is generally bold and
direct, with an economical use of brushwork.
The New Mexico
Painters last show together was in 1927. Afterward, Applegate's
paintings continued to appear in major shows, including the annual
exhibition of watercolors in the spring of 1927 at the Art Institute of
Chicago and a one-man show at the Denver Art Museum. In the last years
of his life, Applegate's interests broadened to such an extent that he
was forced to devote less time to painting, but he never abandoned it
entirely. The watercolors he painted during his last years reveal a
dramatic shift in technique and vision. The artist most responsible for
this change was John Marin, who spent the summers of 1929 and 1930 in
Taos. Marin painted more than 100 watercolors during his residence in
Taos, and his influence is apparent in the work of many New Mexico
had been incorporating many of Marin's stylistic techniques in his work
long before the latter arrived. But after seeing Marin's work,
Applegate began to take his technique further. He adapted several of
Marin's mannerisms, and his painting became freer and farther removed
from representational art. His strokes became broader and more vivid; a
storm, for example, was now a heavy, diagonal slash of paint. Colors
were much bolder than in his earlier watercolors, which, for all their
richness, look positively faded compared to the later ones.
often placed the landscape in the center of the canvas, with balanced
white space serving as a Marinesque border or frame. He fractured
images, enhancing their expressiveness. He switched from adobe-colored
papers to a heavily textured, vivid white paper from which the colors
jump out. His landscapes became stark and minimalistic, capturing
nature's raw power in expressionistic strokes.
Applegate sent his paintings to exhibitions right up to the time of his death in February 1931.
Southwest Art, July 2001
Daria Labinksy and Stan Hieronymus, Frank Applegate of Santa Fe, Artist and Preservationist
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Born in Atlanta, Illinois, Frank Applegate was an art teacher and
accomplished sculptor and painter, doing many Indian subjects in New
He was a student of Frank Forrest Frederick at the
University of Illinois in 1906 and for two years of Charles Grafly at
the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he also exhibited
watercolors. He had further study in Paris at the Julian Academy
under Charles Verlet.
From 1908 to 1920, he taught and headed
the department of sculpture, modeling and ceramics at the Trenton, New
Jersey Industrial Art School. He then moved to Santa Fe, New
Mexico where he gained much respect as a painter, sculptor, and
He first made the trip to New Mexico in 1921 when he took his family to
see the famous Santa Fe Fiesta. He was so taken with the
environment, that he moved there and became an adviser in matters
related to Indian culture. He asserted that Indian crafts and
Penitente carvings should be treated as collector's items and not just
curios. Ultimately he turned to painting to record Indian life.
lived on Camino del Monte Sol among a line of pueblo huts inhabited by
other artists who called themselves "Los Cinto Pintores." Other
members of that group were Fremont Ellis, Will Shuster, Walter Mruk,
Josef Bakos, and Willard Nash. Applegate was close to these men and
also backed some of them financially.
He was an exhibiting member of the New Mexico Painters Society, and in 1929, wrote and illustrated Indian Stories from the Pueblos,
subject matter with which he was familiar from working closely with the
Hopi Indians of Arizona, with whom he developed a new formula for
making pottery from the few remaining clay deposits.
Peggy and Harold Samuels, "The Illustratred Encyclopedia of the American West
Doris Dawdy, Artists of the American West
|Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, I:|
|Frank G. Applegate|
Born: Atlanta, Illinois 1882
Died: Santa Fe, New Mexico 1934
New Mexico painter after 1921, sculptor, ceramist
He was the pupil of Frank Forrest Frederick at the University of
Illinois where he was educated in 1906. He studied two years at
the PAFA under Grafly and at the Julian Academy in Paris under
Verlet. He then taught sculpture, modeling, and ceramics at the
Trenton (NJ) Industrial AS, 1908-20.
In 1921, Applegate came to Santa Fe, devoting himself to
painting. His house was on Camino del Monte Sol, in line with the
adobe huts built by Los Cinto Pintores, Mruk, Bakos, Nash, Ellis, and
Shuster. He was “their close friend and sometime financial
helper.” He became a member of the New Mexico Painters society in
1923, exhibiting extensively.
He wrote “Indian Stories from the Pueblos” in 1929.
Resource: Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West.
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