UNM's Harwood Museum of Art Announces Major Gift from The Mandelman-Ribak Foundation

Share Article

Former Harwood director, Bob Ellis, and his late wife Caroline Lee, honored with the naming of lobby gallery

White Sun, Bea Mandelman

When Bea and Louis arrived in Taos they were completely captivated by the landscape and culture

Ten years in the making, an agreement has been reached for the receipt of a major gift from The Mandelman-Ribak Foundation in Taos to the Harwood Museum of Art of the University of New Mexico. The multifaceted gift includes the addition of a new gallery wing to the museum; the naming of two new galleries; a permanent endowment and plan for care, exhibition and scholarship; and the gift of a collection of 72 Beatrice Mandelman and 61 Louis Ribak artworks, the largest comprehensive collection of their work currently held by any public institution.

Beatrice Mandelman, (1912-1998) and Louis Ribak, (1902-1979) whose foundation has made this gift possible, were contemporaries in New York of artists Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky and Jackson Pollock. Married in 1942, they first came to Taos from New York in 1944 and helped establish the region as a destination for many of the artists who would become known as the "Taos Moderns," an allied group including Ed Corbett, Andrew Dasburg, Agnes Martin, Oli Sihvonen, Clay Spohn and Charles Stewart among others. In 1947, Mandelman and Ribak founded the Taos Valley Art School that attracted scores of artists to the area as well as students from the Taos Pueblo, further validating Taos as a unique and vital art colony.

Long-time friend and counsel to Ms. Mandelman, and co-founding Director and spokesperson for The Mandelman-Ribak Foundation Board of Directors, Larry Taub, is delighted that a partnership has been forged with the Harwood Museum in Taos, where Bea and Louis made their home.

"There were other institutions that expressed interest," says Taub, "but ultimately the Harwood became our first choice to house the collection. Because Bea and Louis chose to live in Taos there is a very special connection with the area. In addition, the Harwood's focus on keeping the core collection together will allow art historians and the general public to have access to some of their finest work at a single location. Bea and Louis were at the center of an important movement in American art that developed in Taos. This gift creates a perpetual home for the Taos Moderns and provides a showcase for their important and influential work. In the years to come, we see The Mandelman-Ribak Gallery as a jumping-off point to a wider world of national and international exhibitions featuring Mandelman and Ribak, the work of other artists of their generation, as well as the work of contemporary artists."

The announcement of the gift comes as the construction phase of the Harwood's expansion continues on schedule with a grand re-opening set for late 2010, and with it, the dedication of The Mandelman - Ribak Gallery featuring an inaugural exhibit of a selection from the gift of 133 Mandelman and Ribak artworks to the Harwood Museum's permanent collection. The artworks selected for the exhibit span the eight decades of the artists' careers, from the 1920s through the 1990s, and demonstrate the inter-related aesthetics and the individual artistic expressions of Bea Mandelman and Louis Ribak, two of the most prominent "Taos Moderns." A catalogue is planned to commemorate the inaugural exhibition and the gift of the Mandelman and Ribak artworks to the Harwood Museum.

In 1999-2000 Harwood Museum Director, Bob Ellis, along with Board President Gus Foster, first proposed to The Mandelman-Ribak Foundation that a selection of the artists' works be gifted to the permanent collection of the Harwood Museum. Over the next 10 years the gift has come to include not only works of art but also an endowment to help care for, research, and exhibit the collection. In addition, the gift funds a new gallery to be named for Mandelman and Ribak, and an adjacent lobby gallery to be named in honor of Mr. Ellis, and his late wife, Caroline Lee. The Mandelman-Ribak Gallery will host changing exhibitions of modern and contemporary art and periodically, exhibitions of Mandelman and Ribak works.

Harwood Museum Director Susan Longhenry stated, "The Harwood Museum of Art is honored and grateful that The Mandelman-Ribak Foundation has entrusted us with this very important collection and has invested in the future of the museum through this extremely generous capital gift. Beatrice Mandelman and Louis Ribak are two of the most important artists comprising the Taos Moderns. Indeed, the story of the arts in Taos cannot be told without them. We share The Mandelman-Ribak Foundation's commitment to preserving, celebrating and perpetuating that legacy."

"When Bea and Louis arrived in Taos they were completely captivated by the landscape and culture," says Taub. "Drawn to the Southwest by Ribak's mentor John Sloan, their home quickly became the artistic crossroads of the community. This gift will enhance and preserve Bea and Louis' legacy, while also providing a place for contemporary artists to be shown at the Harwood."

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Andrew Flack
Visit website