April 11, 2021 Taos, New Mexico

The Harwood Museum of Art

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Saturday, November 3, 2018 - Sunday, May 5, 2019

The Legacy of Helene Wurlitzer: Works From the Harwood Collection

Galleries: George E. Foster, Jr. Gallery of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, Ellis-Clark Taos Moderns Gallery, and Mandelman-Ribak Gallery
Helene Billing Wurlitzer, photo by Kazik Pazovski, 1961Helene Wurlitzer with Eduardo Rael, the young opera singer who introduced her to TaosPortrait of Eduardo Rael by Emil Bisttram, 1946Marcia Oliver, Tide Pools, 2012 water media on canvas
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The influence of Helene Wurlitzer on the Taos community spans from the 1950s to the present day. Through the work of her foundation, she has affected the cultural fabric of Taos and the international arts community. Yet the name of Helene Wurlitzer is not well recognized by many Taoseños. This discrepancy would undoubtedly please her.
Modest in personality and generous of spirit, Helene Wurlitzer was born in 1874 to parents of wealthy means. She spent her childhood out West - in Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. As a young woman she lived in Cincinnati, Ohio and Germany – the birthplaces of her mother and father, respectively. Wurlitzer married and raised her family in Cincinnati.
The women of her family engaged in philanthropic pursuits, and Wurlitzer continued the tradition. A strong supporter of the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, Wurlitzer was the first woman to serve as a member of its Board of Regents. In 1955, the Conservatory acknowledged Wurlitzer’s contributions with an honorary doctorate degree. In 1956, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico was incorporated.
Through her foundation, Wurlitzer ran an artist-in-residence program. She also quietly supported those in need of medical funds, housing and other needs, and provided the land and house for the town’s first animal shelter. Wurlitzer structured the foundation’s original board with representatives of the three dominant cultures of Taos. The current board continues this tradition today.
During her lifetime, Wurlitzer supported artists such as Andrew Dasburg, Patrociño Barela and Agnes Martin. Over the years, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation has offered residencies to close to 2000 artists in music, literature and the visual arts. These artists come to Taos from all over the United States and the world to immerse themselves in a creative sanctuary. When they return to their homes, they bring back the inspiration of the Taos land and people. These artists also shape the Taos community. Each generation, some of the artists fall in love with Taos and make it their home. This is the quiet, enduring legacy of Helene Wurlitzer.