Enchanted Mesa, 1902
Frank Sauerwein (1871-1910)
oil on canvas
Gift of Willis Adams Marean in memory of the artist, 1920.
Enchanted Mesa captures the mysterious red light of a New Mexico sunset dramatically reflecting off an enigmatic mesa. In a perfect synthesis of the sights and legends that lured artists to the Southwest, this painting alludes to the intertwining of art, anthropology, and Native legends at the end of the 19th century.
The Enchanted Mesa—known as Katzímo and located three miles from Acoma Pueblo— is the subject of an incredible legend. Around 1910, the Fred Harvey Company published this succinct version of the tale on the back of a color postcard:
The name Mesa Encantada arises from an old legend or tradition. Centuries ago the people of what is now Acoma dwelt upon the summit of the Mesa, to which a single trail led. A part of the cliff over which the trail led was undermined thru erosion and fell when every one except a few old and sick women were at work in the fields below. After that, the present site was built upon, and the mesa in time came to be regarded as "encantada" or as we would say, haunted.