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Original Prints by Willard Clark


Historic Santa Fe Foundation presents Original Woodcuts by Willard Clark

Exhibition opens at El Zaguán, 545 Canyon Road, Suite 2, on Friday, August 5th from 4-6pm and continues through August 29th, 2016. Dr. Robert Bell will speak about this exhibition of Willard Clark prints at a members-only talk on August 16th at 3pm.

Willard Clark was born near Boston, Massachusetts, in 1910, but grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where his father was President of the Argentina branch of General Motors. Willard’s summers were spent studying painting and drawing at the Grand Central School of Art and the Hawthorne Art Academy. One of his inspirations for the woodcuts for which he became famous was an uncle who made carved wooden ships in the bottle for the Smithsonian Institution.

Clark had worked a little as a graphic artist, but his dream was to become a portrait painter. In 1928, it was with that pursuit in mind that he headed to California. On the way, he stopped in Santa Fe to visit friends. He was very taken with the beautiful landscape and felt at home in the Spanish language and culture of the small town. He decided to stay and bought a press to begin a printing business. He then taught himself the art of the woodcut and wood engraving.

In 1930, he married Bertha Berchtold and built a small adobe house where he had his print shop downstairs. He would do the printing and create his own illustrations – woodcuts that he created in the evenings and printed during the day. A modest man, Clark characterized himself as ‘just a craftsman’ His training as a painter helped him render very intricate subjects as wood-engraved illustrations, and he continued to paint through out his life. He kept a commercial print studio in Sena Plaza until 1943, where he sold his original oil paintings alongside his commercial prints. This shop is often called “Santa Fe’s first art gallery.”

Clark spent the war years as a machinist in Los Alamos, which seems to have triggered a real love of creating objects. In the early 1980s, Willard retired from this work, and reconnected with his printing, which resulted in his masterwork of wood engraving, Recuerdos de Santa Fe 1928 -1943, a limited edition hand-printed visual memoir of the artist’s early years in Santa Fe.

About the members-only lecture on August 16th:
Working from prints for the collection of Drs. George and Sheryl Talbot as well as his own collection, Dr. Robert Bell will be discussing a general overview of Willard Clark's work as a Santa Fe printmaker and Clark's development of a unique visual vocabulary related to Santa Fe that begins with commercial work, which later was re-envisioned as fine art. Dr. Bell will also be discussing the development of Clark's magum opus - the Recuerdos de Santa Fe - with examples of the famous book on hand.

Dr. Robert Bell is a local eye surgeon, and one of the foremost collectors of etchings and fine art prints in the country. Dr. Bell befriended Willard Clark in his later years, and the majority of the prints by Clark in his collection were acquired directly from the artist. He has established a major Print Study Collection at Highland University, and he is a major benefactor of the Harwood Museum in Taos. Dr. Bell often speaks to standing room crowds on the history of printmaking at Argos Gallery, the Museum of New Mexico and other venues.

The Historic Santa Fe Foundation (HSFF) is a private, non-profit membership organization founded in 1961. HSFF is dedicated to the preservation of Santa Fe’s historic buildings and neighborhoods. Our mission is to preserve, protect and promote the historic properties and diverse cultural heritage of the Santa Fe area and to educate the public about Santa Fe’s history and the importance of preservation. Historic Santa Fe Foundation offices are located in El Zaguán, 545 Canyon Road, Suite 2, Santa Fe, New Mexico. More information can be found at

Contact: Melanie McWhorter at or call 505.983.2567 for more information or images.