Golden Dawn Gallery is the Exclusive Estate Representative for both Pablita Velarde and Helen Hardin.
The Gallery features the work of Pablita Velarde, Helen Hardin and Margarete Bagshaw
They are the only known three generational family of full-time, professional, female painters.
Margarete Bagshaw passed away on March 19, 2015
Her grandmother, Santa Clara Pueblo painter Pablita Velarde, became part of a first wave of artists fueling a national demand for traditional Native art. Her mother, Helen Hardin, joined a second wave of artists bridging traditional and contemporary art. Carried into a third wave, Margarete saw herself not as a Native artist, but as a Modernist whose works sometimes imbued elements of Native iconography, but always celebrated abstract geometric patterns and luminous layers of color.
Raised between both women’s homes in Albuquerque, Margarete once wrote that her first memory, still in the crib, was the smell of fresh paint. Despite that influence, she resisted joining “the family business” until 1990, when insomnia inspired her to open a sketchpad. Her works found quick footing in art shows and galleries.
In 2006, she moved to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands to be with her new love, Dan.¬† There, the seascape exploded her palette into a kaleidoscope of colors-turquoise, coral, brilliant whites and the richest reds. She learned to scuba dive and helped build ISW, a major recording studio. She and Dan returned to New Mexico in 2009.¬†
Endless optimists, they ignored the recession and opened Golden Dawn Gallery near the Santa Fe Plaza to carry her work as well as Helen’s and Pablita’s. The gallery soared. Margarete’s work took flight.¬†Her canvases grew as wide as 12 feet. Her process became a full-body exercise of hands, arms and legs. She applied layer upon layer of oil paint, scratching, combing and burnishing it. Mixing math and mysticism, she manifested an interior world of katsinas, avanyus, pharaohs, feathers and, most famously, a chorus of women, their mouths opened in prayer, chant or song.
“I see myself as a phoenix,” Margarete wrote, “rising from whatever ashes life has dropped me into. … I am here, thriving and loving my life.”
She began her Mother Line series with a haunting portrait of three katsinas representing herself, her mother and grandmother. It catapulted her popularity as well as her confidence. Big, bold paintings-elegant, ethereal and sometimes saucy-became her trademark, along with an extraordinary pace that often found her working on numerous paintings at a time. “It’s almost like the old guy in the park playing chess with 20 people… moving from table to table, doesn’t miss a beat…always knows what’s going on with the next table,” Dan McGuinness said in a 2011¬†El Palacio Magazine¬†article.
In 2012, a watershed year, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe mounted a solo career retrospective,¬†Margarete Bagshaw: Breaking the Rules. She wrote a memoir,¬†Margarete Bagshaw: Teaching My Spirit to Fly, and oversaw publication of the biographies¬†Pablita Velarde: In Her Own Words, by Shelby Tisdale, and¬†Helen Hardin: A Straight Line Curved, by Kate Nelson. From March to June, she painted 10 large canvases that became known as her “chapter paintings” and an entire Indian Market show of another 18 paintings. With the support of artists, scholars and donors, she and Dan opened the Pablita Velarde Museum of Indian Women in the Arts at 213 Cathedral Place in Santa Fe.¬†Investing her energy into the Pablita Velarde Museum underscored her deep commitment to helping women rise; in 1988, as a 24 year old, she was a founding board member of the New Mexico Women’s Foundation.
In the course of her career, Margarete’s work was exhibited at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., the Ellen Noel Museum in Odessa, Texas, and dozens of other museums across the nation. From Feb. 6 to March 6, her work was included in the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center’s KiMo Theatre Gallery exhibit,¬†Impetus Seekers: Integral Innovations of Pueblo Women Artists, in Albuquerque.
Throughout it all, she emboldened her friends to dream big and strive past their supposed limits. She donated her time, money, heart-even ¬†a kidney, in 2002-to various causes and people. She held to a rock-hard work ethic and lived with gusto. She threw lavish dinner parties, loved dogs (especially Maggie the goldendoodle), and indulged an unapologetic weakness for cute shoes. Her laugh could melt icicles.
Perhaps most remarkable was her interior life-a world invested with lengthy and sometimes labyrinthine dreams that she used as inspiration and guidance in her everyday activities.
In recent months, however, she seemed to slow down. At times, she spoke of a future that did not include her. The reason soon roared forth. A tumor had colonized her best feature: that brilliant brain. We watched as, soon, conversations wandered among sweet and soulful, clearly astute, and delightfully comic. The end came astonishingly fast. She felt little pain. She died at her home outside of Santa Fe, Dan holding on to her, surrounded by the family of friends she had transformed with her love. Mi-Kyoung Song and Patty Urone’s minute-by-minute care was deeply appreciated, along with Jimmy McGuinness’s sunny spirit and constant ability to get things done. His arrival always elicited a gleeful “Uncle Jimmy” from Margarete. Throughout Margarete’s illness, Cindy Ewing carefully kept track of what belonged where, and Rebecca Fitton cleared the air.
Margarete will be cremated. Dan asks that those who wish to remember her do so by donating to Muza Kids: A Year in the Arts, a nonprofit organization that helps low-income children experience museums and the performing arts (muzakids.org, 17600 Montebello Road, Cupertino, CA 95014; EIN: 46-1405883).
Before her illness, Margarete had prepared two panels for her next works, applying early layers of paint that appeared similar enough that, one day, I asked her if they were to become a diptych. No, she said, they were headed to vastly different places, though she held their ultimate destinies in her head alone. Whenever she painted, she often said, she heard the voices of her mother and grandmother, the rustle of the ancients. Through her work, she could commune with them.
“Painting is our language,” she wrote in her memoir. “Used by and understood by all three of us. … We communicate past to present, present to past. They both left unfinished paintings on their tables. … What was left unsaid?”
The newest panels remain behind, unfinished. In some other realm, the conversation continues, a three-part harmony that bounces, canyon to cloud and back, far beyond our ears.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† -Kate Nelson
Margarete’s Museum Show video