Taking Note of Oscar Beringhaus

My Great Uncle, Joseph Brooks lived on the farm that my dad was raised on near Kansas City, MO. He tended the chickens and had his own room off the kitchen where he would show me drawings and small watercolors that he would do around the farm. When I was older and serious about art I found out that he had gone to art school at Washington University in St. Louis after World War I. He became a commercial artist in St. Louis doing newspaper ads, labels and brochures mostly in ink and gauche. I inherited a lot of the work he did during those years. One that sticks out is the Clabber Girl Baking Soda label that is still being used today. Sometime in the thirties he moved back to the farm because of  family demands.  He had always talked about his Life Drawing teacher in art school, Oscar Berninghaus and told lots of stories of Berninghaus living with and painting Indians in New Mexico, strapped to the top of a train riding throughout the West to get a better view and sketch when the train stopped.  Later, in art school, I found out how important the artist Berninghaus was and I studied his work at the St. Louis Museum and the Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City.  My uncle gave me his life drawings from school saying that Berninghaus would often sit down at his drawing to show him a point and end up doing the whole drawing.  Oscar E. Berninghaus, Taos, New Mexico: Master Painter of American Indians and the Frontier West by Gordon Sanders.  Berninghaus composed beautiful paintings of Taos Indians in the midst of their element, surrounded by large cottonwood trees, the Pueblo, working with horses or putting up hay. He had a great sense of color that really caught the light of Northern New Mexico.

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