Friday, November 25, 2016

NEW MEXICO DIARY -- O (A minimalist artist -- the canyon road to Taos -- a brand-new National Monument -- Agnes Martin -- a road not taken -- mine and mountain pass -- The Moreno Valley and E-Town -- a gunslinger and a serial murderer -- San Francisco de Assisi --Another chapel -- What is beauty?)


(A minimalist artist – The Canyon Road to Taos – A brand-new National Monument – Agnes Martin – a road not taken – a mine and mountain pass – the Moreno Valley and E-Town – a gunslinger and a serial murderer – San Francisco de Assisi – A chapel – What is beauty?)




Critical consensus was that the spiral ramps at the Guggenheim Museum were too coercive for the large Agnes Martin paintings exhibited in her recent retrospective. Martin’s paintings invite extended contemplation; they are too subtle to be appreciated in a glance. Indeed, quick look at one of Martin’s late paintings shows reveals or next to nothing – a slightly luminous, field of cream-colored paint edged with the faintest of shadow. Only closer inspection reveals the grid of graphite lines inscribed into that field, or overlaying, or, perhaps, half concealed by a translucent layer of paint. Martin’s works are very hushed and still, and require patience. You can’t effectively see them propelled up the ramp coiled around the museum atrium or driven downward by the sloping inclines – the museum’s architecture is, to put it succinctly, too propulsive for Martin’s quietly reticent work to be shown to best advantage. And, the effect of her retrospective was further diminished by an art world stunt – one of the little, inconveniently small toilets embedded in the Guggenheim walls, dark and nasty little enclosures that fully deserve the term water closet, was equipped with a solid gold potty. (The 18 carat loo is the work of Maurizio Cattelan and part of an installation called "America".) Of course, Manhattan’s art crowd lined up to shed their excreta in this golden toilet, making a long line that wrapped across the sober, and dismayed, front of a half-dozen of Martin’s painting, obscuring them between a column of vulgarians masquerading as art lovers. It is reported that the wait to use Cattelan’s toilet is about two hours.

I would like to tell you that I sought out Martin’s work in New Mexico. There is a gallery in Taos that holds seven paintings by Agnes Martin – therefore, I should persuade you that I went to that place, the Harwood Gallery, to see those pictures.




I left Santa Fe in morning’s half-light, the sky only half-opened and the desert rats at the C-Store still trembling under their horse-blankets in the dawn cold. The desert rats were sitting with legs outstretched on the sidewalk in front of the store. Inside, two girls behind the counter were bantering back and forth in Spanish.

I drove past the freeway retaining walls decorated with images of snakes and lizards and tortoises. I passed the exit to the outdoor opera amphitheater. Light gradually filled the basin to the north of Santa Fe. The ring of mountains were affixed to the horizon by messy, pinkish badlands striated with shadow.

From Espanola, I took the canyon road to Taos. It was Sunday morning and public radio was playing gospel music interspersed with Buddhist chanting. The Rio Grande gorge was still shadowy, shadow spilling down from the high barren hills to darken the deep valley where the river ran silver between boulders and landslide debris. I stopped at the headquarters for the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The parking lot was empty. The chemical smell in the toilets made my eyes water. A sign said something about a battle between dragoons from Taos and the Jicarillo Apaches. The battle took place near the river, under the formidable desolate mountain at the head of the valley. The mountain blocked the river or diverted its course so that it flowed in a narrow, stony sluice around the flanks of the big bluff.

The road angles diagonally up the side of the valley and emerges on the grey and vast Taos plateau. From the crest of the hill, I can see north for many miles – the Rio Grande chasm zigzags across the plateau. At this hour, the east canyon wall is leaden with deep shadow while the rim of the west cliffs are lit by a flare of sun raking across the plain. The huge sage-colored plain is treeless and high mountains to the north and east are black rising to dark domes of rock. It’s a heroic view, a vantage that encompasses all of the earth – I can see to Taos spread out under the mountain, the country lanes arrowing in toward the city with haciendas and ranch-houses set at intervals like shards of ceramic pottery.

On the canyon road, you reach Taos from Santa Fe very quickly – it’s not yet 9:15.




Agnes Martin was born in 1912 in Macklin, Saskatchewan (north parallel 52 degrees 20 minutes). She came from Scottish Presbyterian stock. When a sister was pregnant and had some medical difficulties, she moved to Bellingham, Washington to assist her. She studied at various colleges in the west and New York, taught art from time to time, and received a fellowship grant to support her painting in the mid-fifties. She used the money to move to Taos where she worked for two years. Then, she returned to New York City. She met Ad Reinhardt, the abstract expressionist painter, and he seems to have served as a kind of mentor to her. Until 1967, she had a studio at Coentles Slip in New York City. During this time, Martin worked scrupulously to develop her style. She was a ferocious critic of her own art – it is said that for every ten canvases she painted, she cut nine of them up with her mat knife. During this time, she worked to eliminate any figurative impulses from her paintings, gradually simplifying her images until they became geometric and fully abstract.

In 1967, Reinhardt died and the Coenties Slip was demolished. Martin had some kind of breakdown and, then, left New York, driving around the country and living in her car for 18 months. She ended up at a tiny town in north-central New Mexico, Cuba. She built an adobe house with her own hands and lived in that village for nine years. It is said that she stopped painting and didn’t do any work for seven of those years. She moved to Gallisteo, New Mexico in 1977, another tiny town, again built her own home from adobe, and painted there for 16 years. It was in this place that she met Bruce Nauman, the conceptual artist, who she sometimes described as her best friend.

In 1993, Martin was 81 and felt that her health was failing a little. She moved to Taos, still painting daily. She lived until 2004. Seven of her late paintings are owned by Taos’ Harwood Gallery, a part of the Univeesity of New Mexico. The paintings are displayed in a special gallery built with an overhead oculus. Until her death, Martin would often come to visit the paintings, sitting quietly in the room with them. Agnes Martin lived alone and had no romantic liaisons known to anyone. She was schizophrenic and endured electro-shock therapy on several occasions. In 2003, she boasted that she had not read a newspaper for fifty years.

Martin’s famous grid paintings were made in New Mexico. These paintings depict metaphysical states of experience that are the closest thing in art to an encounter with Plato’s ideal forms – pure unconditioned beauty. Martin told admirers that the paintings were made with "(her) back to the world" – that is, not influenced by any external sensation or image. She said that she would sit quietly in a rocking chair and eliminate all conscious thought from her mind. With her mind emptied, Martin explained that inspiration would come to her – she seems to have regarded the inspiration as wholly separate from her personality or capabilities, an infusion of radiance from some other realm. Martin inspiration represented the paintings, complete in themselves, and very small – they appeared to her mind as the size of a postage stamp. In her notebook, Martin would transcribe the image meticulously, precisely how it appeared to her in a tiny drawing also the size of a postage stamp. She would, then, scale the image up to the size of her canvas using mathematical proportions to design the finished painting.

Martin thought music was the purest and most complete form of art. She said: "From music, people expect pure emotion. From art, people want explanation."




After passing through Taos, I drove north on 522 along the west flank of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The road runs just above the high chaparral at the edges of the pine forests spilling down from the peaks. I passed the turn-off that leads up into the gently rolling foothills to D. H. Lawrence’s ranch and his tomb made from poured concrete in the tall Douglas fir. (When I visited Lawrence’s grave ten years ago, a big silver-colored UFO was nosing around the place, dipping and diving over the mesas.) At Questa, I turned and ascended into the mountains – the highway follows a river-bed past some towering sentinel cliffs up toward the alpine meadows where the stream originates.

A couple miles up the canyon, there is the strange and disheartening spectacle of an amputated mountain, the raw oozing torso of a peak cut into a ziggurat of steep, exposed ramps. At the base of the mutilated mountain, a high chain link fence encloses some ugly-looking white structures, sheds, I suppose, for the big earthmovers that carved the peak into its present form and, above the place where tailings and the steep rock slopes on the opposing slope almost seal off the canyon, there are some crushers mounted on a terrace overhead, an empty parking lot, and some trailer houses linked together to make a kind of office. The operation seems to be closed and, furthermore, ashamed of itself – there’s no sign anywhere naming the mine or specifying what kind of ore has been extracted from this mountain. In fact, there are no signs of any sort, not even no trespassing markers. A map tells me that this is a molybdenum mine. What is molybdenum? The mountain has been flayed to its exposed yellowish tendons and huge inclines of spoil hang like ominous clouds over the road. There is no retaining wall and, in any event, I don’t know what kind of structure could protect the curving highway from landslide if rain were to dislodge tailings overhead.

Red River is uphill beyond a half-dozen curves in the highway. The town occupies the narrow valley between mountains and seems eerily deserted. Ranks of ski-chalets with Alpine-style peaked roofs stand next to main street, a big shuttered colony showing no sign of life. The tourist strip is desolate, a couple of souvenir places, some restaurants closed for the season, and many bars with false-front facades and faded Old West feel to them – a marquee in front of one tavern says "Ride Pepe the Bull – Fame or Shame?

At the west end of town, the road climbs steeply out of the valley. The top of the hill is the pass marked with a modest sign showing the elevation and an Arctic Cat snowmobile dealership. From that height, the highway slopes downward crossing an immense and beautiful park, the sort of voluptuous, endless green meadow that attracts hobby-ranches owned by Hollywood celebrities. This lush green meadow, lying indolently like a naked maja, between high mountain peaks, has a name – it is the Moreno Valley.

Nestled far from the highway at the edges of the steep pine-clad slopes, I can see a few opulent mansions, one every couple miles or so and there are a few jeep tracks cutting out across the meadow, slipping between marshes and wet spots in the hollows of the rolling hills. To the east, a big benign mountain rises, bare shoulders and bare summit – this is Mount Baldy at approximately 12,500 feet. Towering over the valley on the south, I can see the jagged lance-point of Wheeler Peak, the highest mountain in New Mexico. On this warm day, under translucent skies, the big meadows of the Moreno Valley seem to me to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, a mild, kindly, forgiving kind of landscape well-watered by noble summits rising above the tall grass and wild-flowers. When I traversed this area ten years ago, I remember a sign advising travelers about the history of the area. The sign alluded to a macabre event – some kind of serial murderer who haunted the valley and slaughtered travelers passing through this area. I looked for the sign on this transit of the valley but didn’t find it roadside.

The highway droops down to more meadows now climbing up toward Mount Baldy. There is a strip of restaurants and gas stations at an intersection where the traveler can choose to drive north to Colorado or south to Taos. This is Eagle Pass. In the midst of the grass lands rising to the east, a long quicksilver smear brightens the valley – this is a lake impounded behind some inconsequential dam, eighteen or twenty acres of water inundating the low part of the valley. At the intersection, a roadside marker tells the story of Elizabethtown or E-town, a settlement that once occupied the middle of the Moreno Valley but that is now entirely vanished. It was this marker, previously located higher up the valley, about four or five miles from the intersection, that told the sinister story of the serial murder. There is nothing about any killings in this marker. The sign simply says that in 1866 a mining town was platted in the Moreno Valley, Elizabethtown. During the gold rush, E-town boasted 7000 residents, two or three hotels and many saloons and brothels. Photographs show me that as late as 2004, some masonry arches remained of one of E-town’s hotel, but those structures have now been knocked down by snow-loading and nothing remains except some scattered yellowish bricks. The historical highway marker was once located adjacent to those arches – an old log cabin, another relic of the town, stood a half-mile away on the Wheeler Peak side of the meadow. No trace remains today of the log cabin.

From the E-Town sign at the intersection, it’s only six miles south, past the Angel Fire ski-resort airstrip, to the hairpin curves climbing to Pechado Pass. This is the pass over the ridges rising up to Wheeler Peak and the descent to Taos. It’s only a few switchbacks to the top of the hill, an elevation increase of 600 feet perhaps, the road descending the long, dry canyons to Taos is 15 winding miles and a loss of 3000 feet.

Sometimes, the most interesting features in a landscape are those that are invisible. Winter is brutal in the Moreno Valley and season after season of deep snow crushed into oblivion the timber towers of the mine workings on Mount Baldy as well as the stick-built carpentry of E-Town. Elizabethtown (founded 1866) was New Mexico’s first incorporated town – that is, its first village laid out according to norms of Anglo city planning with fee title to real estate held according to the rules of the old Northwest Survey Act. The story is that a Ute Indian was sick and, possibly, dying in a cabin near the headwaters of the Red River. A prospector nursed the Indian back to health and was rewarded for his generosity by being shown a place where there were "pretty stones", an arroyo on the west-facing slope of Mount Baldy. The prospector, with several associates, blazed a Douglas pine on the mountain heights with the words DISCOVERY TREE. People talked as people will and a gold rush followed. E-town was built and the entire Red River diverted for a distance of 41 miles to provide water to the sluices high on the slopes of Mount Baldy. The project was elaborate consisting of tunnels and overhead trestles but it didn’t really work – only a tenth of the water diverted ultimately reached the gold fields.

To the east of E-Town lies Colfax County. In 1872, several New Mexico politicians, backed by money from Holland, formed a syndicate and purchased a huge tract of land extending from Cimarron at its east boundary to Elizabethtown in the west. The syndicate headquarted in Santa Fe (the so-called Santa Fe Ring) served eviction notices on several hundred ranchers, small farmers, and prospectors living on the property that it owned. The pioneers weren’t willing to voluntarily vacate their homesteads and so the Santa Fe ring retained thugs to drive them off the land. A number of the so-called "squatters" as they were named by the Santa Fe ring were shot dead defending their homesteads. A local Methodist minister, Rev. Franklin Tolby, riding the circuit in north-central New Mexico, sided with the pioneers and preached some fiery sermons on their behalf. Gunslingers hired by the Santa Fe ring dry-gulched him near Cimarron. Another circuit-riding Methodist minister, Oscar McMains, demanded vengeance and, so, the squatters formed a militia called the Colfax County Ring. The Colfax County Ring murdered several men reputed to be hirelings of the Santa Fe oligarchs. More gunfighters swarmed into the area on the payroll of the Santa Fe Ring.

Ultimately, Pastor McMains met with Clay Allison, a local "shootist" not affiliated with the syndicate. Allison was a psychopath, discharged from service in the Civil War, because of his violent and "manic" tendencies. Involved in several shoot-outs with Federal forces in his home state, where he was a terrorist employed by the local Ku Klux Klan, Allison had fled to New Mexico territory in 1870. He had a clubfoot and dressed flamboyantly and his exploits were famous. He invited an enemy to dinner, let the man finish his steak, and, then, shot him dead – when questioned about this, Allison said that he thought it would be inhumane to send a hungry man to hell. In another famous case, Allison is said to have summoned his foe to a local graveyard, dug a grave, and, then, descended into the pit with his adversary, both men armed only with a Bowie knife. Allison was happy to assist the Colfax County Ring particularly since he liked losing causes and enjoyed championing the underdog.

A man named Vega was accused of assassinating Reverend Tolby. At the head of lynch mob, Allison captured Vega. When Vega refused to admit involvement in Tolby’s killing, Allison tortured him with the enthusiastic participation of the mob. Reverend McMains was appalled and fled. Allison, then, moved the war to Cimarron where the Santa Fe Ring stabled its hired killers. A number of shootings and ambushes occurred and, some historians estimate, that as many as 200 men were killed. When the incorruptible Lew Wallace became governor, trials were convened and some of the violence quashed.

The Colfax County war was waged over the old Maxwell Land Grant. This was territory around the Moreno Valley and extending toward Cimarron that Lucien Maxwell had owned but that was contested by the Dutch investors and the Santa Fe Ring. When gold was discovered around Mount Baldy, Maxwell granted deeds to prospectors and pioneers and these were the combatants involved in the fighting. Ultimately, territorial courts ruled that the Santa Fe Ring’s land rights were subordinate to the Maxwell Grant and that the "squatters" had legitimate title to their land. But periodic ambushes and vigilante hangings continued until the 1920's.

In the course of the Colfax County War, Clay Allison was implicated in many killings. In one case, he shot a man dead and, then, a couple days later, got drunk, stripped naked, and did a war dance over the place where he had killed his enemy, a red bow neatly tied around his penis. When things got too hot for Allison, he fled New Mexico to Pecos, Texas where he bought a ranch. He wandered about the west, on one occasion facing down Wyatt Earp in Dodge City, Kansas. In Cheyenne, Allison had a toothache and had to have one of his molars extracted. Allison thought the process was unduly painful and, so, he knocked down the dentist and used a pliers to wrench a molar out of his jaws.

Married, with several small children back on the ranch, Allison tried to go straight. While transporting a heavy load in his buckboard wagon, a wheel broke. Allison climbed under the heavily laden wagon to fix the wheel. The wagon collapsed on him and running gear almost severed his head. Clay Allison was 47 when he died.

A picture of Clay Allison taken around the time of the Colfax County War shows a handsome man with slit eyes and a bushy black beard. Allison is wearing garishly striped trousers and, with his left hand, he holds a crutch with a padded top – the fabric on the crutch’s pad is also striped. Allison used a crutch because of his club foot, a deformity with which he was born. The gunfighter holds the crutch proudly as if it were some kind of exotic, and deadly, weapon.


One-hundred and fifty years ago, it was a long two-day ride from Taos over Pecado Pass to Elizabethtown. Midway between the two villages, a big, burly pioneer named Charles Kennedy owned a lodge where weary travelers could spend the night. Unfortunately, Kennedy was a serial killer who murdered his guests.

In late September 1870, an Indian woman, bruised and battered, staggered into Elizabethtown. She said that her husband, Charles Kennedy, had killed their son and attempted to murder her. Apparently, a traveler met Kennedy along the trail. Kennedy invited him to his isolated lodge where the two men began to drink. The wayfaring stranger asked Kennedy if he saw many Indians in the hills where he lived. Kennedy’s small son was sitting next to the table and he blurted out: "Can’t you smell the one papa put under the floor?" Kennedy drew his revolver and shot the traveler. Then, he beat his son to death. He knocked his Indian wife down, kicked her a few times, and, then, continued drinking to the point that he passed-out. She escaped from the cabin and made her way to E-Town.

As luck would have it, the Indian woman told her story in a saloon where Clay Allison was boozing with Davy Crockett, a nephew and namesake of the famous Tennessee frontiersman. Allison and Crockett put together a posse and rode out to Kennedy’s lodge. Still drunk, Kennedy was stirring a fire-pit in which blackened human bones were found. The posse tied Kennedy up and dragged him back to E-Town.

A circuit judge appeared at a Grand Jury hearing on October 3, 1870 and the issued an order that Kennedy be held in custody until his trial. The Indian woman testified to the Grand Jury and said that her husband may have killed as many as 14 travelers.

A rumor spread through town that Kennedy had hired a lawyer from Santa Fe and that the attorney intended to spread around enough money to buy the alleged murderer’s freedom. Clay Allison got drunk, incited the other patrons in the saloon until they formed a mob, and, then, led an attack on the local jail. Someone through a rope around Kennedy’s mid-section and Allison, reportedly, galloped back and forth on E-Town’s main street dragging the man until the alleged murderer had been rubbed to death. The crowd hauled what was left of Kennedy to the town outskirts where a group of Catholics stood at the gates to their cemetery barring interment of the corpse in their graveyard. A shallow trench was dug and Kennedy was slopped into it. The next morning, Clay Allison is supposed to have dug up the corpse, decapitated it, and, then, carried the head Cimarron. He stuck the head on a post in front of the town’s hotel, daring the local folks to remove the grisly relic. The head was supposed to have remained in that place for several months.

How much of this is true is anyone’s guess.

(Other accounts say that Charles Kennedy had a large cabin on the trail to Taos at the mouth of Fernandez Canyon. Fernandez Canyon is one of two outlets leading from the high park of Moreno Valley to the outside world. In some stories, Kennedy is charged with attempted murder when one of his putative victims escaped with serious injuries. A trial was convened but Kennedy eluded conviction. Later, Kennedy’s Indian wife is supposed to have come to E-Town with a bag of charred human bones. This led to Kennedy’s second detention and another trial. At that trial, a young lawyer named Melvin Whitson Mills successfully defended Kennedy. He was again released from jail but found hanging from "a pine limb" a couple days later. His body was cut down and dissected by a physician named Bradford and, then, allegedly sent to the Smithsonian Institute "where it can be seen today" – so says a genealogy site devoted to Melvin Mills and his heirs.)




Highway 64 is the modern road that runs from Eagle Nest over Pecado Pass to Rancho de Taos Junction on the south side of the Wheeler Mountain ridge. The road winds down from the frigid pine forests on the summit through a shallow canyon cut by the Comanche Creek – this is Fernandez Canyon. At Taos junction, the traveler is a only a couple hundred yards from the one of the most beautiful churches in the United States, the adobe mission church of San Francisco de Assisi.

The church crouches like a great, noble sphinx in a plaza surrounded by other old adobe buildings. When I first saw this church fifteen years ago, the buildings surrounding the massive, lion-colored church were five and dime shops, offices for the local parish, humble local businesses, a lawyer, perhaps, and an insurance agency. The plaza arcade is now upscale – expensive boutiques and places retailing western art and galleries full of five-thousand dollar curios.

It was Sunday morning, fore-noon: the church stood among a throng of parked pick-up trucks. The great belltowers, more like geological features, than structures made by human hands cast their long shadows over the vehicles.


Seven paintings by Agnes Martin occupy a kind of chapel at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos. The art museum is about a block west from the highway that bisects the town, a structure that is shaped like a pueblo with three stories stacked atop one another and vigas extruding from a turquoise-colored frieze. Martin’s paintings are large, about ten feet tall, and simple: ribbons of pale paint cross the light blue canvases; in some of the pictures, the cloud-tinted white strips are the prevailing element, extending laterally across the field of the canvas – in other paintings, the blue background becomes foreground, the white mist expanding so that the blue elements of the picture no longer predominate, but appear as arm’s width white bands crossing the canvas. You must look from picture to picture to grasp the subtle interplay between the creamy white bands appearing against the blue background and other canvases in which the blue becomes stripe marking a foggy but radiant white backdrop.

The gallery has a peculiar shape – the ceiling is complex, possibly a dodecagon, pierced by an oval central oculus open to the sky. Some track lights are bolted to the polygonal ceiling and each large painting occupies a single facet or white wall of the chapel. Directly under the oculus, there are four cubes, richly honey-colored – these were made by the artist, Donald Judd and they are intended to serve as benches. The cubes are not attached to the floor and they can be moved aside readily – indeed, an early morning yoga class uses the place and, when exercising in that room, pushes the four cubes toward the door to put them out of the way and, also, to block entrance to those not in the class. The gallery’s floor is polished wooden staves, light-colored and smooth as a dance-floor.

Agnes Martin used to come to the studio and sit quietly on the cubes pushed together in the middle of the floor under the pale wash of blue sky light falling through the oculus. There is a video of her coming into the room and sitting there to contemplate her paintings –the pictures were made on the occasion of Martin’s 90th birthday and she is a massive, heavy set woman who walks gingerly on hips that are not entirely functional – her hair is grey and cropped, cut the way a truckdriver might wear his hair.

The rest of the museum is small. There are some interesting Santos and a penitente Death with bow and arrow in a cart with hideous square wheels. Indians grimace at you from dusky canvases and there are paintings of katchina dancers and canyons.

Some people come into the museum and step for a moment into the Agnes Martin gallery – the air seems too thin and rarefied for them in that room and, so, after glancing at the pale arctic paintings, they retreat. Others walk blindly to the center of the room and its honey-colored cubes, not daring to experience the paintings until they have taken a place on those benches under the warm and austere light descending from above. Then, they look at the paintings, turning from canvas to canvas, and may remain in the room for ten minutes or more. A cloud may pass over the sun and, then, suddenly, the room becomes colder and the paintings seem more remote, something viewed from an immense distance. When the cloud frees the sun, the pictures seem to come closer and become brighter and, even, whisper a little to one another – the white strips are the color of angel’s wings. When it is bright in the gallery, the light cast through the oculus makes the visitor feel as if he or she is a kind of sculpture, also on display and a part of the exhibit.



When I drove through Taos, it was still early on a Sunday morning and the Harwood Museum would not open unti 11:00 and I had miles to go and promises to keep and so I drove onward, through town.

Barricades blocked the road to Taos Pueblo. I didn’t go to the museum and have never been there.

North of town, I saw the arrow of buildings pointing up the arroyo to the canyon where the road ascended to the ski resort. There are no trees on the dry, high plateau and so the shapes of villages and towns and commercial strips are entirely naked to the eye. I thought that I should turn at the intersection where there was a flashing yellow and take the eight mile road to the top of the mountain and the Bavarian Lodge under the summit of Wheeler Peak. It’s a place that I have thought about and, even, seen in my dreams.

But I had to be back in Santa Fe by two-o’clock pm and so I didn’t visit that place.

When you are on vacation, it seems that you are always so terribly rushed.



Agnes Martin’s dealer at the Pace Gallery in New York, a man who looks like Bob Balaban, told a story about the artist.

The dealer had come to visit her in Taos with his eight-year old granddaughter. Martin had a rose in vase in her studio.

Martin pointed to the rose and said: "Is the rose beautiful?"

"Yes," the little girl said.

"What makes it beautiful?"

"The way it looks," the little girl replied.

Agnes Martin took the rose and put it behind her back. "Is the rose still beautiful?" she asked.

"Yes," the child said.

"You see that the rose is beautiful because of what is in your mind. That’s where beauty will be found," Agnes Martin said.

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