“He lets us feel the chill ourselves…”
Altermann Auctions really timed this sale well, at least from our perspective. The height of summer or early fall are a perfect moments to imagine sinking into a freezing cold river. In this 1970 painting, Hulings has his cake and eats it too: the shadow in the foreground shows off the cold water and snow in icey grays, while the clear evening sunlight in the background warms up a palette of glowing amber trees.
A Watery Protagonist
The composition is deceptively simple. It’s a pure landscape with no human or animal figures to distract from the character of the river, which is alive with movement. Hulings has created the perfect serpentine pattern to keep our eyes moving with the flow of the water, and a series of pine trees and distant mountains create interest in the background and suggest that it flows on indefinitely, which it almost does. It’s unusual to find a Hulings painting that contains no warm-blooded figures, but he really places us into the scene in a way that would be more difficult to accomplish, should he have included someone for us to relate to. Instead, he lets us feel the chill ourselves.
As a tributary of the Rio Grande, the Chama River starts in Southern Colorado and touches many of the landmarks of New Mexico, including Santa Fe National Forest, several state parks and Los Alamos. The Chama has the good taste to stop by some seminal visual artist’s homes as well, including Georgia O’Keeffe’s in Abiquiú; contemporary artists are still featured in Chama Valley studio tours each fall.
UPDATE: This piece has sold! Twilight on the Chama is available with Altermann Galleries. We’d be happy to make a connection for you if you’d like to enjoy the beauty of the Río Chama year-round.
Snow in August
We have another beautiful Hulings’ painting you can cool off with on a hot day in our archival print collection: Kaibab Trail-Winter.