The Western Wyeth
Only one of the famous family’s fourth generation paints, but he’s traded Eastern fields and streams for the open range.
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We certainly connect Wyeth art and the Brandywine River, but with the Rio Ruidoso? Yup. One branch of the family has lived in New Mexico for nearly three-fourths of a century and, like their Eastern cousins, a passel of them paint. Call it the Hurd mentality.
The continental divide began in 1938, when Peter Hurd, a student of N.C. Wyeth, moved with his wife Henriette—Wyeth’s daughter—from Chadds Ford to San Patricio, New Mexico, near Hurd’s hometown of Roswell. The Ruidoso River rips through their 2,400-acre Sentinel Ranch, where two of the Hurd’s three children, Michael and Ann Carol, and her second husband, Peter Rogers, still live. Ann Carol’s son, Peter de la Fuente, grew up there. All are artists in their own right. Western artists.
“I’m not in any way a Brandywine painter or a Maine painter. I’m a Western boy,” says de la Fuente, 39. De la Fuente is the only member of the Wyeth family’s fourth generation who currently paints.
Maybe first generation N.C. Wyeth was a Western boy, too. His first published works illustrated stories about the West, and souvenirs from his several trips to Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico are fondly displayed today in his Chadds Ford studio.
There is no Ruidoso River Museum to celebrate Western Wyeth art, but de la Fuente and his uncle, Michael Hurd, both run galleries that feature works by family members. De la Fuente’s Wyeth-Hurd Gallery is in Santa Fe, just a few blocks from the New Mexico Art Museum that is home to a number of his grandparents’ paintings. Michael Hurd’s Hurd-La Rinconada Gallery is on Sentinel Ranch, a four-hour drive south. Both galleries surprise East Coast visitors who always wander in, amazed to find the Wyeth name so far afield.
Chadds Ford quaint it ain’t, but the Santa Fe storefront projects its own adobe ambiance. Eastern folks will readily recognize a Helga print by Andrew Wyeth, though most paintings on these walls feature sheds, sagebrush and coyotes instead of springhouses, forests and foxes. Horses painted by Ann Carol and Peter Rogers hang amid Big Sky vistas by Peter Hurd and by de la Fuente himself.
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