The New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe is featuring an exhibition entitled Gustave Baumann and Friends Artist Cards from Holidays Past curated by Jean Moss and Thomas Leech who also co-authored a book of the same title, which has been published by Museum of New Mexico Press.
Moss and Leech did a remarkable job of designing both the exhibition and book. If you plan on visiting Santa Fe before the end of March, we highly recommend that you visit this small but wonderful show.
Baumann’s first known Christmas card dates to 1905 but it wasn’t until 1913 when he was established in his studio in Brown County, Indiana, that he produced another. Cards followed over the years and most were carved and printed by Baumann. When his schedule was tight he would arrange for Willard Clark, fellow Santa Fe printmaker, to letterpress print his cards.
The early cards reflect the regions that they were produced in. The cards from Baumann’s Brown County days illustrate the people and landscape around Nashville, Indiana. After he moved to the Southwest, Native Americans, Hispanics, rodeos, ceremonial dances, and the flavor (ristras of chile) of Santa Fe, influenced Baumann’s designs for his cards.
In the mid 1920s, Baumann’s cards focused on domesticity. The card for 1925 featured the German inspired dining room in his home. His card for 1927 was a geographical treatise showing his residential lot with the newly built studio behind the house. His daughter, Ann, was born in 1927 and his 1928 Christmas card illustrating diapers on the clothesline provided this weather forecast for Santa Fe and vicinity: Generally fair and cool with moderate humidity in the laundry/perambulator unsettled/ studio quiet/ much snow in the mountains.
Baumann’s holiday cards from the next four decades would on occasion reflect world events. The design of a volcano for the cover of his 1937 Hollerday Greetings was certainly influenced by the super volcanic eruption that occurred at the site of Yellowstone National Park on July 18, 1936. His card for Christmas 1944 with the words “we remember you” is a tribute to the soldiers fighting in World War II. In 1957, Baumann produced a card with an expectation of a “Bleepless New Year as of long ago” since the Russian satellite, Sputnik, launched on October 4, 1957, had ceased sending its beeping radio signals once its batteries died. His “Happy New Era” card of 1967 designed with hearts certainly relates to the “summer of love” and the “dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”
So much time and creativity was invested in each card and it would have been a treat to be on the receiving end.
The gallery has a few of Baumann’s holiday cards posted on our website and they can be viewed along with his color woodcuts if you click on this link: Gustave Baumann.