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 Hella Broeske Shattuck  (1906 - 1994)

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Lived/Active: New Mexico/South Dakota / Mexico      Known for: landscape, pueblo figure and genre

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Hella Broeske Shattuck
An example of work by Hella Broeske Shattuck
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
During Hella Broeske Shattuck's 50-year artistic career in New Mexico she was widely admired and honored for her interpretations of Native American, Hispanic, and New Mexican society and culture. As part of Mabel Dodge Luhan's artistic circle, Shattuck's work represents the style characteristic of that period landscapes celebrating the luminescent light and color of the region as well as intimate depictions of local customs, festivals and landmarks. Shattuck's love and admiration for the people and landscape of Northern New Mexico is evident throughout her work.

Shattuck was born in Frederick, South Dakota on July 4, 1906. Her parents were both Finnish immigrants and her father, Rev. Peter Keranen, served as a pastor in the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church. Her father changed parishes often, moving the family from South Dakota to Wisconsin, Minnesota and Oregon. Always a talented artist, Shattuck's musical abilities were encouraged by her father and she eventually became a classically trained concert pianist. While pursuing her musical talents, Shattuck also held a passion for painting a talent not encouraged by her family, but one to which she would remain deeply committed throughout her life.

Shattuck began her artistic training in Minneapolis and continued her studies under Clyde Leon Keller when the family moved to Portland, Oregon. After marrying Fritz Broeske in Portland in 1934, the couple drove to Santa Fe, NM by motorcycle and decided to remain. Once in Santa Fe, she quickly became involved in the art scene and took this opportunity to study painting with several local artists, primarily Odon Hullenkremer. Together, they were asked to create the illustrations for the book, The History of New Mexico, written by George Hammond and Thomas Donnelly. In 1936, Shattuck participated in the invitational alcove show at the New Mexico Museum of Art. By 1938, her work was featured in a number of additional exhibitions and she was named "Future Artist of New Mexico." She would later be asked to paint several murals for the Franciscan Hotel in Albuquerque, NM.

After her divorce in 1946, Shattuck moved frequently throughout New Mexico - taking every opportunity to explore all that her home state had to offer. Fluent in Spanish, she took particular interest in the Hispanic communities of Northern New Mexico - relishing in their rich customs and traditions. Shattuck also displayed a strong connection for Native American subjects. During a sketching trip to the Isleta Pueblo, Shattuck became fascinated with the landscape and immediately sought permission to become an artist in residence at the Pueblo. Eventually, she would live for extended periods at both the Laguna and Isleta Pueblos. It was at the Isleta Pueblo in 1949 that she met her second husband, August Shattuck, a health educator and Isleta native.

The Shattucks would later reside in Taos at the famed "Pink House," owned by Mabel Dodge Luhan. This move marked the richest and most productive period of her career. Shattuck was greatly influenced by the renowned artists in Luhan's circle and many of her works reflect the style of that period. Shattuck also took this opportunity in Taos to make frequent visits to the festivals at the Taos Pueblo, which she often depicted in her work. Since photography or painting was not allowed directly on the reservation, Shattuck did most of her work in the privacy of her home demonstrating her acute memory of specific details and events. Her canvases and ink sketches, therefore, faithfully capture the spirit of Indian rituals and dances.

In 1962, Shattuck would help found the Taos Opera Guild and, for a time, was a Board member for the Santa Fe Opera. In 1975, she was appointed a member of the Bicentennial Commission of the State by Governor Bruce King. She received many awards from organizations such as the National League of Pen Women and is listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in New Mexico, Two Thousand Women of Achievement and the National Social Register. Throughout her life, she received repeated invitations to art exhibitions in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos, Las Vegas, NM, Portland, OR, and New York City.

Hella's earliest canvases and sketches were signed "Hella Keranen" or "Hella Broeske." After her marriage with Broeske ended, she most frequently signed her work simply as "Hella," but larger works often bear her full signature, "Hella Broeske Shattuck". Her works have been included in the collections of the New Mexico State Museum, The Finnish-American Heritage Center at Finlandia University, Mary Washington College, and numerous private collections throughout the United States and abroad.

Shattuck and her husband eventually settled in Albuquerque where she remained until her death in 1994.

Submitted October 2003 by Alima Jimenez for Owings Dewey Fine Art, Santa Fe

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Hella Shattuck is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Taos Pre 1940

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