Art and Literature in Santa Fe - 5/23/14

On June 1st, local author Lynn Cline will be talking in St. Francis Auditorium about her book, Literary Pilgrims: Life in the Santa Fe Writers’ Colony. If you aren’t familiar with the history of Santa Fe, then you might not realize that the Santa Fe “writer’s colony” was deeply intertwined with the “art colony” in the early part of the twentieth century. There are several reasons for this. Santa Fe was a small city (population 11,176 in 1930) and artists and writers are both creative types with similar interests. The artists and writers of early 20th century Santa Fe published their work together, banded together politically to affect local legislation (particularly in the area of historic preservation) and even married each other.

Two power couples of this era stand out as prime examples of these artist/writer connections: artist William Penhallow Henderson and his wife, poet Alice Corbin Henderson and artist Gerald Cassidy and his wife writer Ina Sizer Cassidy. Ina Sizer Cassidy served as the Director of the Federal Writer’s Project from 1935-1939 and wrote articles about art and artists for New Mexico Magazine. She was also extremely active in the community, participating in the New Mexico Association on Indian Affairs, the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, the Historical Society of New Mexico, the Folklore Society of New Mexico, and was active in the Daughters of the American Revolution. Her husband, Gerald Cassidy was one of the first painters from the east to live and work in Santa Fe and two of his works are currently hung in the galleries. The Hendersons moved to Santa Fe only a few years after the Cassidys. Like Gerald Cassidy, William P Henderson was a painter married to a writer who was also active in the perpetuation of New Mexican traditions and customs. Alice Corbin published several books on poetry, the last of which, Brothers of Light: The Penitentes of the Southwest, was illustrated by her husband.

William Penhallow Henderson
Holy Week in New Mexico
Support: 33 x 41 in. 
Oil on panel
Gift of Mrs. Edgar L. Rossin, 1952


The relationships between artists and writers in Santa Fe are too vast for one blog post to cover entirely. If you are interested in learning more, there are a number of books that delve deeper in the topic. In addition to Lynn Cline’s book, Marta Weigle's Santa Fe & Taos: The Writer’s Era 1916-1941 and Sharyn Udall’s Spud Johnson & Laughing Horse are excellent resources.

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