Two museums, the Meadows Museum and the Centre Pompidou, are featuring the work of Barbara Maples, a well-known printmaker. On loan from Bywaters Special Collections to the Meadows Museum’s Fossils to Film: The Best of SMU’s Collections, is Maples’ Taos Fiesta. In addition, she is one of several female artists featured in the Centre Pompidou’s exhibition, Elles font l’abstraction (Women in Abstraction), opening in May 2021.
Born in Temple, Texas, Barbara Lucile Maples (1912 – 1999) graduated from Mary-Hardin Baylor College in Belton, with a BA degree in 1933. Six years later she received a MA degree from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. She began her teaching career in Temple and Fort Worth before joining the Dallas Independent School District in elementary and secondary art from 1937 – 1964. In 1965, Maples became the Assistant Professor of Art Education, and in 1974, Associate Professor of Crafts Design at SMU. She taught at the University until retiring in 1978.
In the mid-1980s, when interest in Texas Regionalism re-emerged, Maples encouraged the exhibition, The Texas Printmakers, at the Meadows Museum at SMU. The 1990 exhibition again highlighted the group. The exhibition catalogue, written by Dr. David Farmer, former director of DeGolyer Library at SMU, and guest curator, Paul Rogers Harris, is available in both the Hamon Arts Library and Bywaters Special Collections.
Maples practiced painting, photography, and metalsmithing, but was known as a printmaker. She joined the Printmakers Guild (renamed Texas Printmakers in 1952) in Dallas and served as its president from 1945 – 1946. Her color block print, Taos Fiesta, presents an image of the historic carousel, Tío Vivo (Uncle Lively), a main feature at the Taos Fiesta. The carousel is turned by hand-operation of a cog wheel to the accompaniment of Spanish music from fiddle and guitar. It was built in Germany, and originally owned and operated by a traveling circus. In the late 1800s, it was discovered abandoned and broken in the mountainous community of Peñasco in Taos County. In 1938 the Taos Lions Club purchased and restored the carousel with the help of the Taos Society of Artists. Members Oscar Berninghaus and Ernest Blumenschein repainted several of the horses. Other artists and photographers used the carousel as a subject in their work. A mystery writer in Santa Fe, Dorothy Hughes, wrote Ride the Pink Horse, basing the theme on Tío Vivo. In 1947, Robert Montgomery directed and starred in a movie based upon the novel.
Tío Vivo continues to be a highlight of the Taos Fiesta.
Blog post: Ellen Buie Niewyk, Curator, Bywaters Special Collections.
Barbara Maples, Taos Fiesta, ca, 1947, color block print on paper, 14.25 x 13.25 in. (36.20 x 33.66 cm). Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Gift of Susan Kennon Carruth in memory of Barbara Maples.