Saturday, September 5, 2015

THE MARTIN BOWDIN GALLERY IN THE PURGATORY - PART 2:

Eldon Brown family at Martin Bowden's
home, Photograph by Eldon Brown,
from John and Daphne Rudolph.

Continuing the story of Martin Bowden, the hermit painter of the Purgatoire River. Bowden had a homesteader style house on the canyon rim made of laid blocks of rock where he lived with his little dog.


Pronghorn antelope with Eldon
Brown's daughters. Photograph by Eldon
Brown, from John and Daphne Rudolph.

"Charlie Beshoar, owner of the Model store where Bowden came to trade, swears the hermit could speak five languages, "maybe six if you count the way he talked to animals. 'What did the man look like?' I asked Charlie. "His eyes were black. Black and snappy. He had a mustache and beard, and they was always trimmed neat as a banker's fur. And he washed his overalls every week. We got a hell of a lot of old bachelors down here, but we never had many nice, clean old bachelors. For company he had a little bull terrier that went everywhere he did." (Leasure 1983: 24)


Bald eagle in flight. Photograph
by Eldon Brown, from John and
Daphne Rudolph.


Rattlesnake. Photograph by
Eldon Brown, from John and
Daphne Rudolph.

"Not only did early artists use rock walls of the region for their canvases, but so did recent residents. An excellent example is found along the upper reaches of the Purgatoire in a side canyon that is a modern day art gallery. An artist, Martin Bowden, lived there and painted the canyon walls with numerous images of animals and historic Americans. An eagle is painted high on a cliff face, and a larger-than-life rattlesnake is painted coiled on a rock beside the trail." (McGlone et al 1994:85)


Prongorn, mountain goat, deer, and
calf, with Eldon Brown's daughters.
Photograph by Eldon Brown, from John
and Daphne Rudolph.

"Modern art gallery in a side canyon of the Purgatoire River. 
Martin Bowden retired to a lonesome life in the canyon in 1911, and lived there until his self-inflicted death in 1958. Known as the "Hermit of the Purgatoire", or "Picasso of the Purgatoire," he painted about 40 life-sized figures of animals and people on the sandstone walls with brightly colored house paint." (McGlone et al 1994:92)

Rider. Photograph by Eldon Brown,
from John and Daphne Rudolph.

These lovely pictures are of considerable appeal, and, given their age, are now classifiable as antiques. These photographs will now be preserved in the Colorado Rock Art Archive at the Pueblo Regional Library in Pueblo, Colorado. Thank you Daphne and John.


REFERENCES:

Leasure, Bob
1983    Painted Beasts, pages 12-13 and 23 - 25, the Denver Post Magazine, June 26, 1983.

McGlone, Bill, Ted Barker, and Phil Leonard
1994    Petroglyphs of Southeast Colorado and the Oklahoma Panhandle, Mithras Inc., Kamas, UT.

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