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Walter Ufer Union League Club of Chicago
Walter Ufer deaccessioned by the Union League Club of Chicago now in Denver Art Museum

Walter Ufer (1876-1936) by Dean Porter

Walter Ufer was born July 22, 1876, in Hilekeswagen, Germany, four years before his parents, Peter, an engraver, and his wife, the former Alvina Meuser, crossed the Atlantic. The point of their destination was Louisville, Kentucky. In 1880, the Ufers sought a better life for their sons, Otto, eighteen, and Walter, four. A year after their arrival, a third son Hermann, was born.[1] Peter, a German craftsman, carver of meerschaum pipes and engraver of hunting scenes in metal, failed to find a market for his work in Louisville. To make a living, he turned to carving furniture and, appropriately for a community relying heavily on the tobacco industry, corncob pipes. He finally established himself, making fishing reels, while developing a talent for engraving gun stocks, an occupation he practiced until his death.


Despite being described as a sickly child, the smallish Walter spent much of his youth working, helping his immigrant family survive. He sold newspapers and, at age twelve, he turned to lighting gas lamps on the streets of Louisville. His father, who taught Walter the art of engraving, and W. 0. Cross, principal of Walter’s Fourth Ward Grammar School, encouraged him to pursue art. Walter provided his classmates with art pictures of plants, birds, animals, and maps. A member of Louisville’s Pendennis Club was so impressed with Walter’s drawings, he bought the young boy watercolors and a sketch pad.


Ufer’s father was an agnostic, and rather than attending church services on Sunday, Walter took art lessons in perspective from William Clark, a student of the Parisian artist Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891).


At sixteen, Ufer became an apprentice to Johann Juergens, an engraver for the Courier Journal Job Printing Company, one of Louisville’s major lithographic firms. He learned the craft of lithography and, importantly, design, on the job and three nights a week in Juergens’s home.


In 1893, the seventeen-year-old Ufer made his first trip to Chicago to see “real art” at the World’s Colombian Exposition. He was overwhelmed by sculptures, paintings, drawings, and engravings, filling eighty galleries and 108 alcoves. Subjects varied from domestic and historical, landscapes, portraits, still lives, mythological and religious. This visual cornucopia impressed him--further fueling his passion for art. The eyes of the world were on Chicago, and compared to the more provincial Louisville, the cultural climate encouraged Ufer to look to the Windy City to continue his career.


However, Europe was to beckon again. While Ufer was in Chicago, Juergens, who had opened his own lithographic firm in Hamburg, found a spot for the hardworking, determined, young artist. On November 2, 1893, Ufer sailed from America on the liner S. S. Columbia.


Ufer began his apprenticeship working days at Langebarlets and Juergens Lithographers and studying evenings at the Hamburg Applied Art School. After nine months he moved on. For three months the journeyman artist worked in Barmen, Cologne, and in other German cities--before being accepted into the Dresden Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Armed with an impressive portfolio of drawings and lithographs he was able to work with the best teachers. Surviving Walter’s study in Germany, are a group of academic drawings of male and female nudes. Although they aren’t particularly distinctive, studies of this nature drawn in the musty halls of the academy were created by practically every artist working in Europe, they are a demonstration of Ufer’s strength and skill as a draftsman.[2] Several of the drawings are signed with Ufer’s monogram which initially appears to be a king’s crown, probably not accidental. It is, in fact, is his signature, a capital “W” cushioned inside the opening of a capital “U”. Ufer’s three year stay at the Royal Academy ended when a lack of capital and his mother persuaded him to return home.


A despondent Ufer returned to the city he despised. Louisville was Via lot of old spinsters talking about it [art] over their cup of tea.”[3] Dresden was a rich and exciting cultural environment, Louisville stagnant, unchanged since he left five years earlier. Ufer again returned reluctantly to the engraver’s table, this time hired by Bruce Haldeman, owner of the Louisville Courier Journal. Walter worked for the Journal for two years, creating Sketch of Turkish Model for the 19 June issue. The caption under the illustration reads: “from an original Charcoal Sketch by Walter Ufer, a promising Louisville artist who has recently completed an art course in Dresden.”[4] (Bonura).


By 1900, Ufer, frustrated with Louisville, returned to Chicago. He accepted a position as a commercial designer at Barnes-Crosby Company during the day while attending the Francis J. Smith School (affiliated with the Académie Julien in Paris) evenings. In 1904, Walter became an art instructor at the Smith School where he met and fell in love with student Mary Monrad Frederiksen (1869-1947). Even though he was convinced that it would interfere with his career, Walter, twenty-nine and Mary, thirty-six, married on 26 April 1906.


After being introduced to her by a mutual friend, Walter described his future bride as looking “... charming even delicately beautiful .... She was well schooled and finely educated.”[5] We have no record of her first impressions of him, although adjectives such as irascible and cantankerous were frequently used to describe his character in latter years.[6]


Their first meeting was an ill portent of things to come. Ever on the defensive, Walter from the beginning perceived in Mary not as a great ally and supporter she was and would continue to be, but a threat to his developing career. He wrote: “I was falling in love. Gracious this wouldn’t do -- I wanted to get to Europe again. Terrible battles went on within me. I wanted to tell her this, yet I didn’t have the nerve to do it. This was agony .... I wanted to tell her .... that I only wanted to paint .... I admitted to myself that I loved her -- but my career -- Gone to Hell![7]


In 1911 the couple returned to Germany, Walter to resume his training in Munich under Walter Thor (1870-1929). Ufer created a second group of figure studies, academic drawings that are different in feeling from his studies created in Dresden during his first German trip. The severity of line, reflecting his early work as an engraver, as well as the German attitude to the line (“he drew with faultless precision”) in his drawings of the 1890s, is missing in his sheets created under Thor’s instruction. Precise outlines are replaced by images created, not by the tip of his drawing instrument, but by the flat side of the graphite stick. There is a decidedly impressionistic feeling to his academic drawings.


Besides drawing from models in the academy, he found rich imagery in the native populations. He created a series of portraits, primarily of peasants. Most of these paintings have disappeared. However, three canvases, a large portrait of Mary, two heads of Tirolean women, and a profile of a young woman, have survived and give the viewer an idea of Ufer’s proficiency as a portrait painter.[8]


Profile of a Young Woman is a beautifully painted canvas. Ufer’s brushwork is masterful in its application of rich and juicy oils, whereas Portrait of Mary is distinguished by its stiff formality. A posed Mary, holding a green vase, lacks the spontaneity of her husband’s paintings where the sitter’s identity is crucial. Walter would exhibit the portrait repeatedly in Chicago, apparently with the idea of selling it but with no success. With his additional training, he returned to Chicago with seven crates filled with these portraits and other paintings and drawings, to become what he hoped would be an artist of national reputation.


Walter returned to America, by himself, on the Kaiser Franz Joseph I in July 1913. In a pattern that would be repeated throughout their married life, the couple would live at different addresses for the next six months. Walter persuaded Mary to remain in Denmark with her mother. Because of his pride, Ufer prevented her from returning to Chicago until he could receive her properly. Walter also seemed to regard Mary as a burden.


He made a brief stop in New York where he failed to find the expected and anticipated acceptance of his paintings. According to Ufer biographer, Stephen Good, he hung a group of paintings at the Artists Packing and Shipping Company and invited dealers, including MacBeth, to see them. Unfortunately, they were looking for established artists, not a thirty-seven-year-old painter who had spent much of his professional career in Germany’s academies. Good, quoting Ufer, wrote, “...he [Ufer] complained that he ‘saw the dealers and none of them wanted to make a deal with me. They all thought well of my work, but they wanted a known man--a famous man and I had to tell them that if I were famous I wouldn’t be looking for a dealer.”[9] An angry and obviously frustrated Ufer left New York, failing to understand the importance that the dealer would later play in his career.


His return to Chicago also proved to be anything but triumphant. He leased a studio in the Beil Atelier Building at 19 East Pearson Street for $50 a month from artist Lawton Parker (1868-1954).[10] Lena McCauley writing for the Chicago Evening Post applauded the artist’s return: “Walter Ufer, another portrait painter, has come from abroad and joined the local colony of artists ... Mr. Ufer ... expresses himself in the virile manner of the progressive school of the younger German painters. His interpretation is refined, yet he is not afraid of bold drawing or color...”[11] McCauley would become one of Ufer’s strongest supporters, her recorded words extolling his virtues as a painter. Walter, recognizing the importance of her friendship and literary support, rewarded her with a gift of a 10.5 by 12.5 oil sketch. Walter often rewarded his friends and patrons with gifts of this nature.[12] Among those invited to see his European work were his former employers from Armour & Company. “The response from this group of men, and from others he contacted, was cordial and congratulatory. More tangible expressions of support, however, were slow in forthcoming.”[13]


Unlike his colleague, Victor Higgins (1884-1949), nearly eight years his junior, who had also recently returned from Europe, Ufer failed to have any of his paintings accepted in the juried shows of the Art Institute in 1913 (he had been unsuccessful in earlier attempts as well). This, and his failure to sell paintings to potential patrons in 1913, further contributed to his insecurity.


While Walter grew depressed by the lack of recognition, Mary continued to support her husband. (She remained stranded in Denmark in her mother’s home when he refused to send her the necessary papers for her return to Chicago in 1913). By the time Mary returned to Chicago in February of 1914, his fortunes began to improve, and career began to move ahead.


In 1914 Art Institute jurors accepted four of his entries: Old Munich, Portrait, Munich Au, and Coletta, the first of fifty-eight paintings that would be accepted between 1914 and his death in 1936 (The Solemn Pledge was exhibited posthumously in 1939).[14]


To make a living, Mary encouraged Walter to paint portraits of Chicago notables. Portrait painting was preferable to returning to the engraver’s table at Armours. Over the next several years, his records indicate that he painted several portraits: Andreas Wackenreuter’s Seven Brothers; Mrs. Walter Wardrop; Chin F. Fain of the Mandarin Inn, Chicago; Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Mayor, and Illinois Governor E. T. Dunne.[15]


Responding to Mary’s recommendation, Walter approached five-term Chicago mayor, Carter H. Harrison II asking him to sit for a portrait. This would be one of Walter’s greatest challenges. Harrison was familiar with Ufer’s work, having seen the artist’s one- man show at the Palette and Chisel Club.[16] Although Harrison admired Ufer’s work, buying two of his European canvases, the mayor reluctantly agreed to sit.[17] Harrison told Ufer that he preferred both Louis Betts (1873-1961) and Lawton Parker over him as a portrait painters.[18] As Harrison was a very busy man, he imposed conditions on Walter. Ufer was to be “on call,” responding at a moment’s notice. Furthermore, Ufer would do the portrait for no payment, except for the prestige of having it hung in city hall. The mayor posed one last condition. The portrait had to be juried into the Chicago Society of Artists Exhibition, or he wouldn’t accept it. Harrison did concede to pay for materials and a frame.


Unfortunately, the jurors for the exhibition rejected the large portrait. Ufer wrote to Harrison describing reasons for the portrait’s failure. Two of Walter’s canvases were accepted, My Indian Model and Taos Trailing, owned, and lent by Oscar F. Mayer and Walter Faithorn, respectively. However, as the jurors were “landscapemen,” the portrait was rejected.[19]


The portrait, like the first of two he would do of Governor Dunne of Illinois, would fail to add to Ufer’s reputation. However, by the time Harrison’s portrait was “rejected” (beginning a long journey that didn’t end until it reached City Hall in 1983), Ufer was establishing himself in Taos, New Mexico, and was gaining recognition for his work.[20]


While Walter was struggling to complete Harrison’s portrait, the mayor and his brother, William Preston Harrison, formed a syndicate in 1914 to send Ufer and Higgins to Taos, New Mexico. In 1917 they sent Ernest Martin Hennings (1886-1956).[21] The Harrison brothers were frequent visitors to New Mexico, stopping in Taos on their return trips to and from California. Carter took photographs of the Native Americans at Taos Pueblo which he exhibited in Chicago.[22] From his experiences, Carter felt qualified to coach Walter on what, where when and how to paint in New Mexico.


Joining the Harrisons were a group of German businessmen-- Andreas Wackenreuter (who would acquire over two dozen paintings), Charles Hermann, Otto Demme, meat baron Oscar Mayer, and William H. Klauer, an industrialist from Dubuque who would. acquire nearly four dozen paintings by Ufer, Higgins, Hennings, and other Taos artists.


Carter Harrison described the syndicate’s program when he wrote: “After suggesting the Indian country as a theme for his luferl painting, I organized a syndicate to finance a New Mexico trip, by taking eight 25 x 30 canvases, and giving him the agreed in advance. I organized a like syndicate for one year for Victor Higgins whose success almost parallels Ufer’s.”[23]


All members, except Klauer, were from Chicago. However, the Dubuque industrialist spent considerable time in Chicago, staying in the Bismarck Hotel, eventually decorating rooms, and storing paintings there.


Ufer made his first trip to Taos at the end of the summer of 1914. Carter directed Walter to Santa Fe, Chimayo, and the pueblos of San Juan, Isleta, and Taos. Ufer completed over thirty ten and a half by twelve and a half inch canvases as well as a group of twenty-five by thirty-inch paintings, mostly portraits painted in Isleta and San Juan.[24]


When Ufer arrived in Taos, he found a small, remote town situated at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The population of Taos was made up of Catholic Hispanics who worked the land; Native Americans, an agrarian society, who also worked as servants, artists’ models, and other menial jobs; and a small of number of Anglos, the artists, bankers, merchants, etc. To the north was the famous Taos Pueblo, Native Americans living in a multi- storied structure as they had four hundred years earlier--without the modern conveniences of electricity or running water. They struggled with two religions, one based on a harmonious coexistence with nature, the second Catholicism.


Six of the Anglos that Ufer met after he arrived were artists, a group who formed the Taos Society of Artists the following year: Bert Geer Phillips (1868-1956); Ernest Leonard Blumenschein (1874-1960); Joseph Henry Sharp (1859-1953); Oscar Edmund Berninghaus (1874-1952); Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936), and William Herbert “Buck” Dunton (1878-1936). In November another Victor Higgins joined the group.[25]


Ufer also met community leaders who would play a vital role in his life in New Mexico. The local doctor, Thomas P. Martin, who Ufer boarded with the first summer (Mary did not come to Taos until 1916), treated him and his fellow artists for a variety of illnesses for over twenty years. His pay was often a ten and a half by twelve-and-a-half-inch canvas. Gerston Gusdorf and his family also built their collections by exchanging goods and services with the local artists. Ralph Meyers, who little is known, was a serious artist who befriended Ufer. Meyers hung his paintings with Ufer and other better-known Taos and Santa Fe artists in the opening show of the Museum of fine Arts in Santa Fe in 1917.


Ufer wasted little time fitting becoming a part of the New Mexico cultural scene. In November, he exhibited seventeen paintings in the reception room of the Palace of the Governors. In an El Palacio article titled “Exhibit by Chicago Artist,” the reviewer called each of Ufer’s landscapes a “gem, although his figures are his forte.”[26] From the beginning, Ufer’s reputation would grow most significantly from his work with the human figure even though he also conquered the moods of mother nature. The reviewer also noted “Mr. Ufer will return to Taos next summer,”[27] a pattern the artist maintained until the late 1920s--in Taos for the painting season, in Chicago during the winter months to hob-knob with his drinking cronies and patrons.


From the summer of 1914 through the fall of 1916, the mercurial Ufer attempted to work with the Harrisons and their syndicate. The members, particularly the Harrison brothers, their value to Ufer came from the counsel they offered him. He responded to their advice. Prior to his annual departure to New Mexico, they placed As early as 1914, failed to fill. This act of omission would be a contributing factor leading to the termination of their relationship in 1916.[28]


Letters from Carter Harrison to Ufer are filled with recommendations, often responding to the problems encountered by the artist. The most important advice Harrison gave to Ufer was “the man who makes himself the Millet of the Indian, who paints him just as he is, as he lives, will strike the lasting note.”[29] On 23 May 1915, Harrison advised Ufer to paint “larger pictures for the shows [juried exhibitions] --the 25 x 30s are lost in an exhibition.” He asked Ufer to paint his “Indians a little darker.” Even though it might “be concession to ignorance… the Chicago public does not know that Pueblo Indians are not as dark colored as the ordinary red man and consequently think you ‘off’ in your color.”[30]


He advised Ufer to paint in colors that show better under artificial light “as his yellows are beautiful by day, but look off at night by electric light.”[31] In the same letter, he also asked Ufer to “try an old church, either the one at Santa Cruz near Espanola or the one at Ranchos of Taos with a bunch of Mexicans coming from mass.”[32] Harrison preferred the “quaint architecture of the church the brilliant sunshine and shadow with the gay colors of the women’s costumes,” all of which would make a good picture.”[33] To save Ufer the difficulty of obtaining models, a problem that the artist complained about in other letters, Harrison indicated the “figures need not be portraits, just suggestion of faces and figures.”[34]


On 16 June 1916 he gave Ufer the advice that would bring the artist the acclaim he had worked so hard to achieve. “Tackle a couple of large canvases for exhibition purposes,” picking out two good motifs,” painting them as good as you know how” and “set them aside for show pictures for some Eastern a well as the Chicago shows,” Harrison again stressed that Ufer should create paintings thirty by forty inches as “small pictures are lost in big shows.”[35]


The Harrison program worked, perhaps more successfully than could have been anticipated. Ufer created larger canvases, selling The Blind Lucero to the Chicago’s Commission for the Encouragement of Local Art $300.[36] At the same time, he became a regular in the juried exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago. After exhibiting My Indian Model, Taos and Trailing, in 1915, in 1916, he exhibited twelve paintings, including The Solemn Pledge-Taos Indians which was acquired by the Friends of American Art at The Art Institute for $750. In 1917, he exhibited nine canvases, selling In Land of Mañana to the Union League Club of Chicago, also for $750.[37] He also sold four paintings, including Going East, to Bill Klauer, for $2,000.[38] Ufer joined several artists working in Taos who sold paintings to the Chicago based Santa Fe Railway. William Haskell Simpson, advertising agent for the Santa Fe Railway, also discovered Ufer, buying Indian for $250, Grand Canyon from El Tovar for $250 and Taos Girls for $50 in 1915. Simpson would buy a fourth canvas from Ufer, The Desert Trail for $425 in 1925.[39] Bert Phillips, “extensively advertised the work of our members and I believe some for this valuable assistance.”[40]


The Harrison brothers also tried to convince Ufer to go to New to paint. “After all that is where American reputations are and that is where the market for cornering the ducats is.”[41] Walter, without Mary, moved to New York in December of 1918 with the intention of an extended stay.


Ufer created only one painting in New York, Union Square – The Battery, a bird’s eye view of the Battery with an army recruiting Ufer framed the scene with tall structures, decorated with American flags, under a cold wintry Manhattan sky. Ufer got caught up in the patriotic fever that affected Americans from coast to coast. In Taos, he and Mary would work with the American Red Cross. Walter, along with several other Taos artists, painted range finders used by the artillery. In New York he followed the example of painters, who like Childe Hassam and Guy Wiggins, painted a city, with skyscrapers serving as polls for the American flag.


Walter’s stay terminated in April of 1919. Before leaving New York, he denounced Chicago, the city that had launched his career: “There is only one art center in America, ‘said Mr. Ufer yesterday. ‘It is New York. Compared to it, Chicago is crude, gross, ugly. When I think of eastern hospitality to art and artist, I shiver at Chicago’s crudity, her grossness, her ugliness.” It is difficult to speculate why Ufer allowed himself to be quoted like this, particularly in the Chicago Tribune, an article with the title “Walter Ufer Likes New York.”[42] It was also a dramatic departure from his feelings about New York when he landed there in 1913 and his second excursion to Europe.


Ufer’s failed relationship with the Harrison brothers, particularly William Preston, undoubtedly contributed to Ufer’s disdain for Chicago. By the end of 1916, they terminated their artist/patron relationship with Ufer. Preston was disgusted with Ufer who had painted him a desert scene instead of the church picture he had ordered. After an exchange of bombastic, inflammatory letters, Preston and Walter parted ways.[43] Carter maintained a relationship with Ufer, primarily through the mails. He, however, like his brother, was finished as a customer for Ufer’s pictures. They had lived up to their agreement, acquiring a substantial number of paintings while helping an artist launch his career and develop a varied support system. Their tastes had changed, and they owned enough Ufer canvases to satisfy their needs. failed to understand the relationship. He tried to extend the artist. Unfortunately, Ufer patron relationship beyond what they intended. The Harrison brothers turned their attention to other artists, whose paintings could be purchased for less than a $100, one being E. Martin Hennings.


From 1915 to 1919, Mary and Walter lived at 854 1/2 North St. in Chicago.[44] Walter like so many artists, spent the painting season in Taos while “wintering” in Chicago. Until 1927, Ufer stayed in the expensive Bismarck Hotel in Chicago, entertaining his cronies, “feeding” potential patrons, while sinking further into alcoholism. By 1928, his lengthy stays in Chicago came to an abrupt halt, his “depression” coming before the Great Fall of 1929.


The organization was “formed for educational purposes, to develop a high standard of art among its members, and to aid in the diffusion of taste for art in general.”[45] Perhaps the most important function, however, was “to bring before the public through [circuit] exhibitions and other means [critical reviews and their own descriptive writings] tangible results of the work of its members.”[46] From 1915 to 1927, they met with considerable success.[47]


Sales varied yearly, ranging from none to nearly a dozen. Fragmentary records suggest that Ufer made three sales during the 1919 circuit, two in St. Louis at the Noonan-Kocian Galleries, and one in one in Kansas City at the Hug & Sarachek Galleries.[48] There is no indication that Higgins ever made a sale while Couse, Sharp and Berninghaus were favored among collectors. Sales, for the most part, were stimulated by the strength of the artists’ following in their respective hometowns. Ufer’s comments undoubtedly hurt his sales in Chicago when the circuit exhibition stopped at Carson Pirie Scott & Company in the teens and early twenties. His press, along with negative reviews, didn’t encourage sales.


Overall, however, the circuit exhibitions attracted attention to the small art colony from northern New Mexico. While the lack of sales was discouraging, the number of one-man shows by Higgins, Blumenschein, and Ufer, resulting from the exposure the artists enjoyed from the circuit exhibitions, was impressive. Because of the extensive press that the Society received, Taos became America’s best known and often visited art colony. Joseph Sharp called the influx of visitors “worse than a plague of grasshoppers,” while Ufer put a sign “KEEP OUT. T. N. T., EXPLOSIVE.”[49] on his studio door, Ufer’s success in juried exhibitions did not go unnoticed. Throughout the teens he won important prizes for his candid, unromanticized images of Native Americans performing routine, daily activities. In Chicago, Erwin S. Barrie at Carson Pirie Scott & Company sold numerous canvases to buyers from Chicago and surrounding communities.[50]


From 1919 to 1924, New York art dealer John E. D. Trask assumed the role of Ufer’s personal agent. Trask had been chief of the Department of Fine Arts at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1914 and 1915. By the time he began to handle Ufer’s paintings, Trask was well-connected in the art community, enabling him to make important sales. He took on the artist with the notion that Ufer should create a type of image with a broad appeal. He felt that every home should have a painting by Walter Ufer, an artist whose reputation was well established.


Trask placed Ufer’s works in several museums, art associations and private collections. Besides Chicago collectors and the Art Institute of Chicago, Ufer’s paintings were acquired by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the National Academy of Design. It wasn’t uncommon for graduating classes to buy art as graduation presents for their schools. In 1921, Ufer’s painting, The Thorn Picker, handled by Trask, was acquired by the Tulsa High School for $300.[51] Ufer’s market was as strong as any artist working in Taos, perhaps in America.


The number of Ufer sales, undoubtedly exaggerated by the artist, lead Ernest Blumenschein, writing in 1954, to claim that Ufer, “drunk with success,” was earning $50,000 a year, a handsome sum for that period. However, sales records in Ufer’s archives fail to support Blumenschein’s contention. His gross income totaled approximately $10,000 annually until the middle 1920’s when the bottom dropped out of his world. A major reason was Trask’s move to Milwaukee in 1924, and eventually his death in 1926. Walter had lost his best promoter and dealer.[52]


During his peak earning years, Ufer did some of his most experimental paintings. Included are Confusion, Fantasies, Present and Past-Confusion, Fructuations, Strange Things. Builders of the Desert is an example of Ufer’s experimentation with Jay Hambidge’s dynamic symmetry in composition. Unfortunately, that canvas was a dismal failure. In the late 1920s, Ufer gave the canvas to Klauer.[53] After justifying the label of “modernist,” a term that expressed a variety of contemporary approaches, Ufer returned to his style which was essentially that of a social realist.


In 1924, Ufer’s production dropped off dramatically, at least paintings that would be attractive to the art market and the market where Ufer excelled for nearly a decade, the museum. Much of his time in 1923 and 1924 was devoted to two commissions, three large canvases, each measuring six by twelve feet, for the Capitol Decoration Project, Jefferson City, Missouri, and six murals for the dining room of Wichita collector, L. R. Hurd.[54] His total income for the three murals was $3,000. They are average illustrations depicting events from Missouri history. Ufer was more interested in depicting history accurately than creating a canvas of artistic significance. The unusual format for Hurd’s “Ufer frieze” wasn’t a suitable space for Ufer’s panoramas. The frieze depicts scenes, loosely connected, drawn from life, in and around Taos. Even though his patrons, Capitol Decoration Commission and L. R. Hurd, were pleased with the artist’s efforts, Ufer spent too much time away from his more traditional easel type paintings. He didn’t have enough paintings to satisfy his dealers, creditors, juried exhibitions, and venue exhibitions for the Taos Society of Artists and the New Mexico Painters. Victor Higgins experienced a similar problem.


Trask’s “retirement” as Ufer’s dealer, and Walter’s struggle to work with new galleries in Chicago and New York that would represent him, signal the beginning of his downfall.


From 1925 to 1929, Ufer, no longer burdened with time- consuming commissions, painted a substantial number of paintings. However, his attractiveness to collectors was fading. Granted he did sell His Wealth to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1926.[55] However, the canvas is one of those dozens of paintings Ufer painted, almost according to formula, his model and companion of twenty years, Jim Mirabol on a white horse, in an arroyo, on a ridge, with or without a female companion, with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the far distance, under a brilliant New Mexico sky.


The Taos Society of Artists held their final meeting in 1926. The dissolution had a profound impact on the careers of Ufer and other members.[56]


Ufer’s participation in the juried exhibitions at the Art Institute mirrors the level of his success. From 1914 to 1919, Ufer exhibited between four and ten paintings annually. The number of accepted entries dropped off dramatically in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1920 he exhibited one painting, Luzanna and Her Sisters, the following year Sun Spots, and Autumn (1922), The Rendezvous and Fiddler of Taos (1923), Builders of the Desert (1924), Luncheon at Lone Locust (1925), Strange Things (1926), A Discussion (1927), At Rest (1928), Callers (1929), and A June Morning (1930). In 1931, Ufer failed to have a painting hung at The Art Institute, the first year that this occurred since 1914. The same was the story in 1932, 1933, and He finally returned to The Art Institute in 1935 when his last painting Bob and Assistant, was accepted.


In the meantime, Ufer’s lifestyle and spending habits were outstripping his earning power. staying at the Bismarck Hotel, looking to make a sale while consuming increasing amounts of alcohol. Even though he maintained his Chicago contacts, he had difficulty selling his pictures. He took pride in boasting to his patron Bill Klauer, how he had continued to winter in Chicago, selling the works of a young Taos artist. A series of letters written on Bismarck Hotel letterhead between 1924 and 1927, reveal that the artist was Kenneth Adams, the twelfth and final member to be admitted to the Taos Society of Artists in 1926.[57] In order to maintain his high standard of living, Ufer convinced Bill Klauer on at least three occasions, 1921, 1924, and in 1929, to sponsor or lend him money [secure loans] through the Union Trust and Savings Bank in Dubuque. In 1929, the loan was for $5,000; $2,000 coming from Klauer, himself, after Black Monday.[58] Ufer refused to recognize a desperate situation. To compound his difficulties, Mary was spending more and more time away from Taos. Despite the tension caused by Walter’s living habits, Mary remained his strongest supporter.


By the early thirties Ufer had lost his battle with alcoholism. He found it increasingly difficult to paint. An artist who once or four canvases. When he was able to paint, the results were but a faint memory of the quality he achieved a few years earlier.


Ufer also spent more time writing letters to his patrons. William Klauer being a frequent recipient of letters, sometimes demanding, always expecting, that pleaded, even begged for financial assistance. Despite rude letters from Ufer, Klauer always came through when the artist claimed that he was down and out. He needed money to pay his rent, insurance, Mary’s medical expenses when she was struck by a cab in New York City and, of course, alcohol. When artists across America were accepting financial assistance from the federally funded Work Progress Administration, a program created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, Ufer’s pride prevented his participation. Ufer also resisted in lowering his prices, even when Klauer exhorted him to follow the practice of New York artists who were exhibiting their paintings at substantially reduced prices.[59]


Ufer’s situation continued to deteriorate, forcing him to take drastic measures. When he did paint the results were so feeble that they had to be an embarrassment even to Ufer. Lacking paintings, he substituted Mary’s paintings to help pay his bills. He, like most of the Taos artists, traded their paintings for goods and services.


The Great Depression and an abusive and alcoholic Walter drove Mary to seek employment elsewhere. and more time away from Taos. She abandoned Taos, spending more. She lived with friends and in hotels in New York, Chicago, and Minneapolis, and gave lectures from a series she had created. The opportunities were few and far between for lectures on Taos artists, and whenever she spoke, her pay was but a few dollars.


Mary wrote to Walter exhorting him to leave Taos and join her in Chicago where, she reasoned, it would be cheaper for two to live.[60] Unfortunately, Walter’s remained steadfast in his conviction that he would again enjoy a national reputation if he continued to paint in Taos. While Mary was looking for speaking engagements and writing letters asking for help with her medical, dental, and clothing expenses, Walter took on teaching jobs to supplement meager earnings from the sale of paintings and loans from Bill Klauer.


Several artists have claimed to have been Walter’s students--most of whom never achieved any degree of distinction. Regina Tatum Cooke (1902-1988), better known as an art writer for the Taos Valley News and El Crepscuto, and Frederick Kimball Mizen (1888-1964), an artist from Chicago, are perhaps the best known. Cooke paid Ufer $36 a month and called Ufer “a wonderful teacher.” She described Walter’s work habits –

working each day on two paintings, one in the morning, the second in the afternoon, and meticulously cleaning his brushes at the end of each day with Ivory soap.[61] Although Cooke was serious about her work, her few surviving canvases bearing the strong mark of his instruction, it wasn’t uncommon for “Sunday painters” to travel to Taos to study with artists who had achieved a national reputations, particularly during the thirties when the artists were trying to survive. Victor Higgins also taught, and newcomer, Emil Bisttram (1895-1976), even established a school that continued well into the late forties. Even though, by 1933 and 1934, Walter was a broken-down artist. Three brothers from Indiana, Carl, Wood, and Gene Woolsey, a retired banker from Wichita, Ed Davison, and the last artist to join the Taos Society of Artists and from Chicago, Kenneth Adams, were profoundly influenced by Ufer. The Woolsey brothers used Ufer’s studio in 1928, the first winter they were in Taos, while Ufer was wintering in Chicago. One of Davison’s New Mexico paintings was titled Ufer’s Alley. He and his wife Faye also hosted Ufer, Higgins, Adams, and other Taos artists, as they passed through Wichita on their way to Chicago.[62]


Ufer supported a variety of causes. He had communist leanings and spent a good deal of time writing to other party members, fund raising, and analyzing Mary’s position as a communist supporter (she was more active than Walter). Walter also took up other causes--a sympathizer of Mexican migrant workers who had been imprisoned and a black artist from Oklahoma who had been denied admission to the Oklahoma Artists Association.[63]


By 1934, Ufer’s situation had worsened. desperation, he agreed to accept federal funding. This required that he had to turn over a painting to the government, which would go into a public collection. Unable to paint, Ufer submitted a painting he had finished in 1930, Blaze and Buckskin. Tragically, the painting is evidence of how far the once fine painter had fallen.


In March and April of 1934, a series of letters between Mary, Walter, and Bill Klauer illustrate the final stages of his illness. Mary wrote to Klauer, requesting help: “it is a matter of life and death: of saving Walter who is very ill.” Walter was unable to provide his dealers in New York with paintings to sell and was not “in condition to take care of his business.” Mary, writing from the Albert Hotel in New York was attempting to save Walter’s life. “Walter has completely broken down. The doctor wrote to me from Taos it might be too late if he was not immediately put into a hospital. Walter does not seem to realize how serious his condition Mary mentioned that she had to go east “in order to hustle for our [their] bare existence which has been menaced for a period of two years heavy expenses and hardly any money coming in.” Walter, at the encouragement of Gustav Baumann, had gone to Pueblo, Colorado to a sanitarium to take the Keeley Cure.


Bill Klauer attempted to help the Ufers with their situation, his own financial affairs threatened by the Depression. He accepted paintings as a part of a settlement to pay off Ufer’s debts while providing the artist with some cash to live on. Mary reasoned that they would need money for two, “because we are two people and would probably be obliged to live separately during Walter’s period of recovery. I stay here or in Chicago and work and Walter go with some friend to recuperate and if possible, paint.”[64]


By the end of April Walter was doing better but Mary doubted that his recovery would “last after he leaves the hospital.”[65] Mary continued to search for financial assistance from Klauer. She wrote, “A few of Walter’s larger pictures left us are being liquidated fast-- one in payment of hospital expenses, one to the U. S. Government because he was paid, broke down, and did not complete his work on the picture stipulated, one to Walter’s Club here in New York [Salmagundi Club].”[66]


According to Patricia Broder, Ufer made two trips to Pueblo, to take the Keeley Cure to dry out. Gustav Baumann took Ufer to Colorado on at least one trip, presumably the last. During that trip, a young child, was killed, probably by Baumann’s car.[67] After his last trip, Ufer never drank anymore, living on Ginger Ale and saltwater taffy.[68]


Following his treatment in Colorado, Ufer’s condition improved. Even though Mary remained away from Taos, Walter picked up life, determined to create one last great masterpiece that would earn him the notoriety he once enjoyed. Benita Peralta, his dedicated cook, and housekeeper for the last ten years of his life, recalled the painting, Bob Abbott and Assistant.


Ufer exhibited the painting at The Art Institute in 1935. He also turned back to Chicago, attempting to get Carter H. Harrison to buy it.[69] However, the former patron who had launched the artist’s career and bought his last Ufer twenty years earlier, saw no reason to buy another. Ufer also wrote to Oscar Mayer, Jr., trying to interest him in some smaller pictures. But, as with Harrison, he failed to acquire additional works by the artist: “I regret that economic conditions with me are still such that I have no funds from which to satisfy my artistic instincts and so cannot consider buying any paintings.”[70]


Ufer also exhibited the work at the Dallas Centennial Exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. For Ufer this was to be his grand finale. In the same exhibition, Victor Higgins exhibited Winter Funeral, E. Martin Hennings The Goat Herder, Oscar Berninghaus Indians at a Baseball Game, and Ernest Blumenschein Adobe Village, Winter.[71]


By July Ufer decided to work for the federal government again. In a lengthy 14 July letter to Olin Dows (chief of the Treasury Department), Ufer described his needs to paint and by 25 July, he was registered and certified for relief through the federal government in Taos.[72] A week later Walter Ufer was dead. After experiencing a ruptured appendix, he died in St. Vincent’’ Hospital in Santa Fe, from peritonitis, on Sunday August 2,1936.


The next day, Mary arrived in Taos from Minneapolis. As per his wishes, Ufer was cremated and his ashes were spread from an airplane by Bob Abbott and Jim Mirabol where he liked to paint, over an arroyo and the morada, north of the Mabel Dodge Luhan attended by his fellow artists, was held in his studio. According to Nelson, Ila memorial service was held in his studio. Around a table with a bouquet of white roses on it, the artists spoke of Ufer. Kenneth Adams made one of the speeches in praise of his first friend in Taos.[73] But Ufer’s significance as an artist and person went beyond the borders of New Mexico. On behalf of the American Artists Congress, Stuart Davis (1892-1964), national executive secretary, eulogized:


“The death of Walter Ufer comes as a great shock and an irreparable loss to all who are sincerely working for the advancement of art in America as a vital and forthright expression of our times. Not content to rest on his achievements as an artist, Mr. Ufer devoted himself heart and soul to the cause of the thousands of artists struggling without recognition security to raise the level of culture in the United States.


As a member of the national executive committee of the American Artists Congress, Mr. Ufer worked valiantly to strengthen the bond of common interest among the great masses of American artists, and with that uncompromising forcefulness that was characteristic of him he advocated the formation of a national artist’s union to protect the living standards of every American artist.


We honor the memory of a man whose spirit was the living expression of that unflinching honesty and integrity which alone can assure the progress of art in America hand in hand with the other forces on which the hopes of the freedom of expression and a higher culture in America depend.”[74]


[1] I am indebted to Carol Bonura, graduate student at the University of Louisville and research assistant at the J. B. Speed Museum, for sharing her research with me on Ufer's early years in Louisville. My thanks to Stephen L. Good of Denver for sharing the Walter Ufer Papers that cover, in depth, the years 1911 to 1927 and 1934 to 1936. Good's chapter, “Walter Ufer Munich to Taos, 1913- 1918,” in the 1983 revised and expanded edition of Laura M. Bickerstaff's Pioneer Artists of Taos, (Denver: Old West Publishing Co, 1983), is the standard work on Ufer's early years in Taos. I am also indebted to the William Klauer Family of Dubuque, Iowa, for donating their Walter Ufer papers to the University of Notre Dame. Those papers cover the period of the early twenties until the artist's death in 1936. Forrest Fenn also shared his letters between Ufer and Kenneth Adams. My appreciation to Teresa Ebie, curator of Southwest art, The Snite Museum of Art, for her research on Mary Ufer, presented at the 1995 Southwest Art History Council session.

[2] The Gerald Peters Gallery acquired over eighty of Ufer's academic drawings from both of his European trips, 1893-1898 and 1911-1913.

[3] Letter from Walter Ufer to Virginia Purinton, 5/16/1935, J. B. Speed Museum Archives, Louisville

[4] Op. cit., Carol Bonura.

[5] Mary's friend, Edith Rackley, also described Mary as "the essence of refinement." Interview with Teresa Hayes Ebie, 3/15/1995, Carlsbad, New Mexico; Mary saw Walter's bad temper during their first meeting. In his letter to Purinton, op. cit., Walter described the encounter. During their discussion, Walter became enraged by what he perceived as Mary's political conservatism. They discussed European politics until Walter "... exploded -- I became furious and we did not speak for about four months."

[6] It is puzzling that a woman of Mary's socially and culturally prominent background would be attracted to a man of Walter's working-class background and ill-temper. A clue may lie in her own family history. Her father, Niels Frederiksen, had achieved a reputation during his lifetime as a poor businessman, perpetually unable to achieve financial stability. He fled financial problems in Europe and came to the U.S., where his pursuits included a failed newspaper, literary magazine, and general merchandising company. He was described as a poor judge of character and a person of naive optimism. The pattern Mary saw during her early years, she was doomed to see repeated throughout the course of her marriage to Walter. For more on Niels Frederiksen see: Mixed Memories from Forty Years in Chicago, Danish American Archives Society, 1913, pp. 66-69; and Danish Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 10, 1933-34, pp. 591-592. Thanks to the Danes Worldwide Archives, Copenhagen, for providing these references, and to Ms. Birgit Scott for her translations of the material.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Portrait of Mary, a portrait of an old peasant women, and the profile of a young woman, are in the collection of the Harwood Museum, Taos.

[9] Op. cit., Good, pp.113-114.

[10] Op. cit., Good, p.113. See

[11] Good, quoting McCauley, Chicago Evening Post, 9/13/1913, Ufer Papers, Stephen Good, Denver.

[12] Ufer used his paintings like cash. He was the master of the barter, exchanging them for a variety of goods and services. He also used them as gifts hoping to influence the recipient. In McCauley's case, he received excellent press throughout the teens.

[13] Op. cit., Good, p.114.

[14] See the records of the Art Institute of Chicago.

[15] There was a generous selection of photographs of Ufer's portraits, recorded by the Art Institute of Chicago photographer, Charles O. Bemm. Ufer/Klauer Papers, Notre Dame.

[16] Exhibition of Paintings by Walter Ufer, March 30-April 6, 1914.

[17] Op. cit., Good, p.130.

[18] Letter to Ufer from Carter H. Harrison, 12/12/1914, Harrison Papers, Newberry Library, Chicago.

[19] Letter from Ufer to Carter H. Harrison, 2/22/1915, Ufer Papers, Stephen Good, Denver.

[20] Op. cit., Good, p.152.

[21] See

[22] Newspaper reference to Harrison as photographer.

[23] Carter R. Harrison, Growing Up with Chicago, (Chicago: 1944), p.329.

[24] Ufer maintained a record of his paintings on index cards. The last card is dated 1927 when Ufer apparently stopped keeping records, at least in card form. Ufer Papers, Stephen Good, Denver.

[25] On July 15, 1917, Ufer and Victor Higgins became the seventh and eighth members admitted to the Taos Society of Artists. Even though they had both already been included in the Society’s circuit exhibitions, it wasn’t until 1917 that they could satisfy the major requirement for membership – three years residence in Taos. Ufer was forty-one, Higgins thirty-three. Other members to follow were: Julius Rolshoven (1858-1930), associate in 1917, full member in 1918; E. Martin Hennings; Catharine Carter Critcher (1868-1964) in 1924, and Kenneth Adams (1897-1966) in 1926.

[26] “Exhibit by Chicago Artist,” El Palacio, 1914, vol. 11, no. 2, p.8.

[27] Op. cit., El Palacio, No. 2, 1914, p.8.

[28] Harrison wrote: "I am anxious for a pueblo picture--and an old church--with mountains in distance and Indians in foreground..." William Preston Harrison to Ufer, 9/26/1914, Ufer Papers, Stephen Good, Denver.

[29] Op. cit., Good, p.126.

[30] Letter to Ufer from Carter H. Harrison, 5/23/1915, Ufer Papers, Stephen Good, Denver.

[31] Op. cit., Harrison to Ufer, 5/23/1915.

[32] Op. cit., Harrison to Ufer, 5/23/1915.

[33] Op. cit., Harrison to Ufer, 5/23/1915.

[34] Op. cit., Harrison to Ufer, 5/23/1915.

[35] Letter to Ufer from Carter H. Harrison, 7/10/1916, Ufer Papers, Stephen Good, Denver.

[36] There is no record in Ufer's sales cards for The Blind Lucero. However, the Archives for the Commission for the Encouragement of Local Artists records this purchase.

[37] Union League Club of Chicago artist files document the purchase of this painting.

[38] After winning the prestigious Thomas B. Clarke Prize at the National Academy of Design for “the best figure painting,” op. cit., Good, p.159, and receiving the acclaim of the critics, Ufer was confident that he could sell the painting to his former employer, J. Ogden Armour. Op. cit., Good, p.167. Armour declined and the painting was sold to William Klauer along with The Bakers of Laguna, Indian Corn-Taos, and Down a Hill in Taos for $2,000. Op. cit., Good, p.168.

[39] Ufer's sales to the Santa Fe Railway are documented in the Santa Fe Railway Archives, Chicago.

[40] Robert White, Taos Society of Artists, (University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM, 1998), p.25.

[41] Carter H. Harrison to Ufer, 10/31/1916, Ufer Papers, Stephen Good, Denver. Both Carter and Preston Harrison encouraged Ufer at different times to work in New York. They were genuinely interested in his following this program. However, we can only speculate as to their motives. Were they being altruistic, offering advice on how he could advance his career? Or were they interested in acquiring paintings created by the artist somewhere besides New Mexico?   It seems unlikely that the latter was the case as even Carter, who had not, like his brother, experienced a falling out with the artist, showed no interest in acquiring Union Square-The Battery, a very fine painting.

[42] “Walter Ufer Likes New York,” Chicago Tribune, 4/17/1919. I am thankful to Joel Dryer of for bringing this article to my attention.

[43] Op. cit., Good, pp.146-148.

[44] The address he submitted to the Art Institute when he submitted entries to juried exhibitions. In 1919, he listed Taos, New Mexico as his address, in 1920 and 1921, 52 East 53rd Street, New York City, 1922 and 1923, John E. D. Trask, New York City (his dealer from 1919 to 1924), and from 1924 to 1935, “no address listed.”

[45] For minutes of the Taos Society of Artists and discussion of the organization, see op. cit., White, The Taos Society of Artists.

[46] Op. cit., White, The Taos Society of Artists, pp.17-18.

[47] Over the period of the organization's existence exhibits were held in New York at E. C. Babcock Galleries, Milch Galleries Kingore Galleries, Howard Young Galleries, and Ferargil Galleries. Other Cities where exhibitions made stops were: Baltimore (1921); Boston (1917, 1918); Worcester Art Museum, December 1922; Pittsburgh (1922); Cleveland Cleveland Art Museum, 1923; Detroit Art Institute, 1922; Grand Rapids, 1919; Chicago 1917, 1918, 1919, Carson Pirie Scott & Co. 1921; Cincinnati, Traxel Art Company Galleries, 1923, 1924; Dayton 1921; Toledo 1921; Indianapolis, 1922, H. Lieber Company Galleries. 1923; Seymour, IN 1924-1925; Nashville, IN 1920; Minneapolis 1919; Des Moines 1917, 1918, 1920; Kansas City 1918, 1919-1921, 1924 Hug & Sarachek Galleries; St. Louis 1917, 1918, 1919, Noonan-Kocian Galleries 1920, 1921, 1923, 1924; Denver 1917, 1921, 1922, Cyrus Boutwell Galleries 1923, Dow Galleries 1924; Colorado Springs 1918, 1919 Clifford Hardy's Galleries, 1920, 1922, Boutwell Galleries; Fort Worth; El Paso International Fair 1924; Los Angeles 1917; Pasadena 1917; San Diego 1921, 1924-1925; San Francisco 1921; Honolulu 1921; Oakland 1924-1925 ; Seattle 1924-1925; Eugene, OR 1924-1925; Medford, OR 1924-1925; University of Montana, 1924-1925 Circuit; Fresno State Teacher's College, 1924-1925; Salt Lake City 1917, 1921, and, Las Vegas, NM. Due to changing recording secretaries, the inconsistencies in the minutes may lead to duplicate or omitted entries. See op. cit., White for minutes.

[48] Op. cit., White, The Taos Society of Artists, p.57.

[49] Mary Carroll Nelson, The Legendary Artists of Taos, (New York: Watson- Guptill Publications, 1980), p.76.

[50] According to Ufer's records, Carson Pirie Scott & Company, sold ten paintings painted in 1916 for a total of $2,625. Ufer netted nearly $1,750 after the Gallery's 33 1/3% commission. There are no records that they sold any of Ufer's canvases painted in 1917 and 1918. However, from 1919 through 1922, this Chicago firm made at least nine sales, including Sunspots, The Riders-Taos Canyon, and The Peddler. Ufer netted about $6,000 after commissions. Ufer's Midwest market remained strong despite his 1919 denouncement of his adopted home. Op. cit., Ufer Papers, Stephen Good, Denver.

[51] Trask had the kind of connections that proved to be of major help to Ufer and guided Ufer and his sales. When Ufer shipped a painting to New York, Trask would have the painting uncrated, photographed by Peter A. Juley, framed, and delivered to the National Academy of Design or a potential buyer. Much of Ufer's success between 1919 and 1924 was due to Trask's efforts.

[52] Ernest Blumenschein, in his introduction to Laura M. Bickerstaff, Pioneer Artists of Taos. This is an exaggerated account of Ufer's earnings. Stephen Good in the revised and enlarged edition of Bickerstaff, set the records straight.

[53] Klauer had admired the painting shortly after it was completed and a few years later, in an uncharacteristic gesture, gave it to Klauer.

[54] For a discussion of these projects please see Dean A. Porter, Teresa Ebie, Suzan Campbell, et. Al., Taos Artists and Their Patrons, Notre Dame: The Snite Museum of Art, 1999, pp. 193-196, and 211-246.

[55] The painting was later deaccessioned.

[56] Ufer's role as a leader in the Taos Society of Artists and in the artistic community has been largely overlooked. Not long after Ufer joined the New Mexico Painters in 1923 (along with Higgins and Blumenschein), he stopped exhibiting with both organizations.

[57] Even though Kenneth Adams came to Taos because of Andrew Dasburg (1887-1949), it was Ufer who became the younger artist's champion. Their relationship is well documented in a series of letters between Ufer and Adams between 1924 and 1927. Even though he had not paid his dues in 1926, he did attend the 12 July meeting of the Taos Society of Artists. During what proved to be the organization's last meeting, Ufer recommended Adams for membership; “Mr. Ufer made the motion to make the election of Kenneth Adams unanimous, seconded by Mr. Couse. Carried.” Op. cit., White, p.102. Even though Ufer was having difficulty in selling his own paintings, he boasted to Klauer that he had sold three paintings for a young artist, who turned out to be Kenneth Adams. Letters from Ufer to Adams are in the collection of Forrest Fenn, Santa Fe; see also Ufer's letter to Klauer, Klauer/Ufer Papers, Notre Dame.

[58] Klauer arranged loans for Ufer through the Union Trust and savings Bank in Dubuque. With each transaction, Ufer provided Klauer and the Bank with a long list of paintings to be used as collateral. Even though the values Ufer declared for his paintings may have been exaggerated, the actual total value was several times more than the loan. As Ufer sold the paintings, he would remove them from the list and use a percentage of the sale to retire the loan. These lists are important as they along with Ufer's sales cards enable us to date his paintings with a high degree of accuracy. Like so many of the Taos artists, Ufer seldom dated his paintings.

[59] A prideful Ufer felt that low percentage discounts would encourage sales. Whereas he was still thinking that patrons would acquire his paintings for the same prices he had received in the early 1920s, in the $1,000 to $2,000 range, Klauer was thinking in terms of selling paintings in the $100s. Walter was also faced with the problem that the paintings that he still had, some were tied up as collateral on loans while others were spread in galleries across America. A frequent complaint made by the dealers was a lack of paintings available for sale, and those that they had were shop-worn. Ufer kept moving paintings from one dealer to the other while Klauer expressed his concerns that the location of paintings that were serving to secure loans were somewhere besides Dubuque, Iowa. His letters to Ufer, frequently requested additional paintings to assure that his investment in Ufer were supported by canvases.

[60] See letters from Mary Ufer to William Klauer, Papers, Notre Dame.

[61] Op. cit., Nelson, p.80.

[62] For full discussion, see Ebie, Porter, Campbell, et al., “Artists Support Artist,” Taos Artists and Their Patrons, pp.317-337.

[63] Letters in Ufer papers referencing migrant workers and Oklahoma artists.

[64] Mary's letters to William Klauer during March 1934, stress Walter's failing physical condition. On 1 March she wrote to Klauer, requesting a prompt reply because was "a matter'

[65] Ibid.

[66] Letter to William Klauer from Mary Ufer, 3/13/1934, Ufer/Klauer Papers, Notre Dame.

[67] Patricia Janis Broder, Taos, a painter's dream, (Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1980), p.229. Gustave Baumann in his report “A Retrospect of Work and the Artists Employed in the Thirteenth Region under the Public Works of Art Project,” ( State Records Center and Archives, Santa Fe, p.23) reported: “Directing an Art Project is simply not a matter of carrying the torch of Art--one must be equally willing to serve as policeman, social worker, psychologist or doctor as the particular occasion requires. After his entry into the project, we found Ufer's ability as a painter had been completely effaced by drink. An effort to solve the problem was made by taking him to a hospital, in the course of which a child lost its life. Both the trip and accident were entirely outside the responsibility of the project, nevertheless, it was one of a number of unforeseen happenings incidental to the responsibility of directing among which this proved to be the most agonizing. Ufer is now back in his studio and at work. If he continues it will in a measure repay for that agony.”

[68] Interview with Benita Peralta. The Ufers' housekeeper and cook of ten years, vividly recalled life in the Ufer household. While Mary was away, it was Benita and Jim Mirabol who took care of the house and chores. Although Ufer was frequently so poor he could only afford bread for his meals, when he had cash, he used it on his friends.

[69] Letter to Carter H. Harrison from Ufer, 1/2/1935, Newberry Library Archives, Chicago.

[70] Letter to Ufer from Oscar Mayer, Jr., 6/8/1936, Ufer Papers, Stephen Good, Denver.

[71] “Artists and…,” Taos Valley News, 6/25/1936.

[72] Letter to Olin Dows from Ufer, 7/14 and 7/25/1936, Ufer Papers, Stephen Good, Denver.

[73] Op. cit., Nelson, 80.

[74] Stuart Davis, as quoted in "Vale," New York Times, 8/16/1936, section 10, p.7.

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