Arts and Life: Finding Mentorship and Community in Santa Fe

Greta Chapin McGill - July 12, 2013

"Living in Santa Fe is an exercise in applying my mind to the understanding of an artistic life."

Living in Santa Fe is an exercise in applying my mind to the understanding of an artistic life. I get up excited to see who and what the universe brings to my attention. My Southwest experiences have been unique to say the least. 

The people I have met will be lifelong friends. So many interesting people who are partners in life and creativity. I would like to share some of these power-filled creative partnerships.

While living at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, I met water colorist Pomona Hallenbeck. This turned into one of those serendipitous meetings which color my life. Connecting with Pomona was inspirational for me in learning to mix, blend and use the landscape colors of Ghost Ranch. Pomona drives into Santa Fe with her friend Marge in a lemon yellow vintage VW.  Through her I met Helen McLeod. Pomona told me if there was anyone I needed to know in Santa Fe--it was Helen.

I found her in a big house near the center of town, which also serves as her husband Bill’s studio. It is truly an artist compound. Visiting Helen and Bill's sprawling home is what I image the atmosphere of Mabel Dodge Luhan’s house to have been like years ago in Taos.

Bill Georgenes is an inspiration. An artist, philosopher, mentor, teacher and all around huge personality here in the City Different.

Bill studied at Massachusetts School of Art with an MFA from Yale University and has been a working artist all of his 83 years. He lives in the framework of his creativity. He never compromises on the time and effort he spends perfecting his work. I think for me his most amazing accomplishment is working in artistic restoration at the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, Mass., where he restored Rembrandts and Monets. Having recently been mesmerized watching the restoration of frescoes at Santa Croce in Firenze, Italy I know what an intricate and specialized arena of art this is.

These days he is confined to a speedy red jazzy mobile chair that he maneuvers with precision. Bill’s work ethic is astounding. He works all day, everyday in his studio. A studio filled with unique sculptures made of found toys and huge intricate canvases. His work has been shown here in Santa Fe, but his home gallery is in La Jolla, Calif.

You never know who you will meet at one of their famous dinner parties or just stopping by. Helen McLeod can host an impromptu dinner party in seconds and her vodka gimlets are superb. Helen can answer any question about any book, poem or essay and is an authority on anything D.H. Lawrence and publishing in general. I spent unforgettable evenings with these two.

Bill is my life coach, mentor, teacher and go to guy for any technical questions about art and the business of art. After 83 years his life is a never ending story. One I can listen to all the time. I see my life as a journey of learning. Meeting Helen and Bill is like taking a class in what the outcome of a creative life partnership can be.

Great and eclectic friends, a home filled with memories of all the people who have passed through...books, paintings sculpture, cats and found treasures. They have contributed to my Santa Fe flavor and style in a huge way.