The Painting Journeys of Buffalo Kaplinski
By Harmon S. Graves
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Buffalo Kaplinskiís roots were firmly established in Taos, New Mexico in the late 1960s. The same illustrious blue sky joining the earth tones of New Mexicoís sweeping landscape that proved irresistible to the Taos Society of Artists in the early 1900s tugged at Kaplinski. He abandoned a stagnant illustratorís career path in Chicago and his palette of subdued urban colors, and burst into this still-sleepy community of struggling artists, rebozo-clad old Spanish women, Pueblo Indians, and tourists mostly passing through on their way to Santa Fe. He shared a Bohemian life style and painting forays deeper into the American Southwest with such other now well-recognized artists as Ned Jacob, George Carlson, and Len Chmiel. Although serious in their approach to art, comical episodes naturally erupted in their life and travels which are shared with the reader.
Kaplinskiís sense of place never allowed him to languish and be content to paint eloquent pictures of the Southwest which have always been sought after by his collectors. He discovered that the challenges of pristine scenes and architectural complexes made by man or found in nature throughout the world fostered new compositions, a constantly changing palette, and provided his collectors a cornucopia of images of intriguing places with an abundance of color. Such places and their people are seen through the eyes of the artist, whose sense of humor and often unconventional modes of travel lead inevitably to the unexpected.
If one were to ask what Kaplinski has added to American art, the answer is apparent from the scope of his work. He has taken his considerable skill to places that many have ignored and may discover too late. Our good fortune is what he was provided for us to enjoy today.
HARMON S. GRAVES is no stranger to contemporary and historical fine art and Native arts. He is the past president of the Douglas Society, a supporting arm of the Native Arts Department of the Denver Art Museum. He has authored articles in which he has addressed art and related legal issues, and contributed to R.G. Bowmanís book, Walking With Beauty, The Art and Life of Gerard Curtis Delano. As a practicing lawyer in Denver, Colorado, he has represented art galleries, dealers, artists, and others involved in the creative process. Recently he undertook the enforcement of rights held by a foreign producer to film illustrated manuscripts and other treasures of the Vatican Library. His sense of place approaches that of his longtime friend, Buffalo Kaplinski.
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