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Gene Kloss
(1903 - 1996)

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The artist we know as Gene Kioss was born Alice Geneva Glasier in 1903 in Oakland, California. Her earliest memory was of the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. As a young girl she took piano lessons and became proficient enough to play live during silent movies. She attended local schools, and proceeded on to the University of California at Berkeley where she graduated with honors in art in 1924.

During her final semester at Berkeley, Gene attended a seminar in etching. At this seminar she was given a small plate to work at home, but she had trouble applying the ground. After messing up her mother's kitchen with several attempts, she went out and purchased a two dollar book entitled How to Make an Etching. Using this book she completed her plate, and returned with it to class. Her professor inked the plate, and Gene turned the big wheel of the press. After pulling the print her professor exclaimed, "If this is your first etching, you are going to be an etcher," which was all the inspiration she needed to embark on a long and notable career as a printmaker.

Following this seminar, Gene completed several prints which she shopped to various galleries in San Francisco. She was turned down at each one. Her final attempt was the famous Gump's department store, where her etchings were accepted for sale. These early prints are signed A. Glasier, and had an original price tag of five dollars a piece.

The following year, in 1925, Gene took a couple of short courses at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, which would be the last of her formal education. That same year, she married a youngpoet named Phillips Kloss, at which time she shortened her middle name, Geneva, to become Gene Kloss. Together they embarked on a honeymoon journey, driving south through California, across Arizona, and on to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where Phil's brother had a ranch. From Las Cruces, the young couple continued north to Taos. Gene made many sketches throughout this trip, and while camped in Taos Canyon they cemented a small portable press to a rock, printing several of the 52 plates she completed that year.

After the honeymoon trip, the young couple returned to California, but visited Taos regularly over the next two decades. A critic in California, writing about one of her exhibits, referred to Gene as "the artist who commutes to Taos."

While living in the Bay Area, Gene and Phil became friends with a group of artists, writers and musicians who gathered to share and critique works. Gene would take her prints, and Phil would recite his poems. One young man in the group was training to be a concert pianist, and also enjoyed photography. During one of their evenings together, he told Phil that he thought photographs should be like Gene's prints -- ranging from pure white to absolute black. That young man later gave up his musical aspirations in favor of photography. His name was Ansel Adams.

Gene continued to produce prints of California, and during visits to Taos she captured scenery, portraits and regional ceremonies, including Native American and Penitente rituals. She also completed paintings in both oil and watercolor. The quality of Gene's work was well recognized, and she was chosen as one of three artists to represent New Mexico at a Paris exhibition in 1935. She also completed several prints for the Works Progress Administration.

In 1965, they moved to southwest Colorado, providing new hiking territory and new material for sketches and etchings. Ouray, Telluride, Silverton and Mesa Verde were all of interest. Gene and Phil purchased a pickup truck with a camper so they could stay overnight at these places. Their first night in the camper was spent in an isolated spot west of Lake City, Colorado. It was a very noisy night, full of violent rain and hail, but the next morning provided a fine view of low clouds lifting from the peaks. Nearly two decades later, this memorable night was documented in the piece, "Canyon Clearing from Thunderstorm." After a few years in Colorado, they returned to New Mexico where they built their final home in the sagebrush northeast of Taos.

Gene and Phil became acquainted with many people in the northern New Mexico pueblos. Adam and Marie Trujillo, and their family at Taos Pueblo, were perhaps their closest friends. Adam, whose Native American name was Red Deer, modeled for several of her prints. He posed for both "Taos Eagle Dancers," which Gene considered her most perfect aquatint, and with his son Pat for the piece, "Shield Dancers." While in Taos as visitors or residents, Gene and Phil attended many ceremonies at Taos, Cochiti, San Felipe, Santa Ana and Santo Domingo. Gene politely refrained from sketching during ceremonies, but she had an acute visual memory and was always welcome in the pueblos to sketch when no ceremony was being held.

 

Harco Gallery updates our online inventory as new works become available, however if you are looking for a specific work not in our online inventory, contact us.


Age Old Rhythm

 

Indian Friendship Dance

 

Sunlit Cove

 

Penitente Fires

 

Indian Moonlight Song

 

Turtle Dance at Sunrise

 

Rocky Mountain Village

 

Moonlight Circle Dance

 

Eve of the Green Corn Ceremony-Domingo Pueblo

Late 19th and early 20th century American art with an emphasis on the 1930s since 1977
international fine print dealers association