THE RALPH T. COE LEGACY - Instruments of Passion


El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe
555 Camino de la Familia
Santa Fe, NM 87501

times & ticket prices:

Admission is free with the purchase of tickets to
The Santa Fe Show

2013 exhibit dates:

August 9th-31st

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THE RALPH T. COE LEGACY - Instruments of Passion

The Santa Fe Show Objects of Art, joins with El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, to present a highly significant loaned exhibit that will open in the El Museo Gallery in conjunction with the Benefit Preview of The Santa Fe Show and remain on exhibit at El Museo Cultural through August 31.

The Ralph T. Coe Legacy, Instruments of Passion, presents more than 25 works assembled from Santa Fean "Ted" Coe's personal collection of Native American and ethnographic objects curated by Bruce Bernstein, (formerly Director of the Southwestern Association of Indian Arts, Assistant Director for Cultural Resources at the National Museum of the American Indian, and Director of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe) and Taylor A., "Tad," Dale, (internationally known ethnographic dealer) both of the Ralph T. Coe Foundation for the Arts.

Coe was one of this country's most scholarly private collectors of Native American art as well as being a highly respected museum professional. With fine arts degrees from Oberlin and Yale, Coe served at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the National Gallery, Washington, DC; and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. He was director of the Nelson-Atkins from 1977 until 1982, when he turned his energies to full-time collecting.

The Santa Fe Show/El Museo Cultural exhibit will be a culmination of Coe's collecting over his lifetime – not only looking at his early acquisitions but those which came later in his career to provide a glimpse of his personal mission, a mission to be carried on by the Santa Fe based Ralph T. Coe Foundation for the Arts. Works shown will be from Africa, North America, and Oceania and will suggest that art and culture cannot be separated. Coe believed the one inspires the other to learn and to pen one's mind to expanding knowledge and understanding.

In a 2010 obituary for "Ted" Coe, fine art journalist Jason Edward Kaufman, who had interviewed him extensively wrote: "Mr. Coe's interest in American Indian art began in 1956 when Richard Brilliant, a fellow graduate student at Yale, suggested he read a book on the subject by Miguel Covarrubias. Soon afterwards he bought his first piece, a totem-pole model he spotted in the Manhattan shop of Julius Carlebach. Eventually he accumulated more than 1,000 objects spanning North America from 3,000 BC to nearly the present day — totem-pole models, masks, moccasins, leather shirts, tobacco pipes, baskets, pottery, textiles, and other items. His scholarship of Indian material was extraordinary for its time, and resulted in his curating two landmark exhibitions: "Sacred Circles: Two Thousand Years of North American Indian Art" was shown at the Hayward Gallery (London) as part of the American bicentennial in 1976 and in Kansas City the following year; "Lost and Found Traditions: Native American Art, 1965-1985," an unprecedented examination of contemporary Indian work, toured museums across the U.S. a decade later. Both exhibitions heightened aesthetic appreciation of American Indian art."

Coe also curated a Metropolitan Museum of Art show of works from his collection "The Responsive Eye: Ralph T. Coe and the Collecting of American Indian art," in 2003.

Coe lived in Santa Fe from 1984 until his death in 2010 and the city will be the home of the Ralph T. Coe Foundation for the Arts.