Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

How I Came to New Mexico and learned about Art and Life



What a Gal! Margaret married well known art collector C. Bland Jamison in the Taos home of Leon Gaspard. Gaspard’s wedding gift to the bride and groom was a wonderful Russian snow scene with
a large group of men and women in colorful peasant dress crossing a bridge.  (This was one of my favorite paintings on display in her Santa Fe home. )  As I remember her telling of the story is that C. Bland wanted to sell some of his large collection of Western paintings and sculptures, including some Remington and Russell bronzes.  Their plan was to run the gallery together.  His wedding present to her was an ancient carved Irish emerald ring…a love story.

In1964 they rented a store front directly opposite the La Fonda Hotel, installed flood lights to enhance the artwork.  The gallery also had a downstairs display room.  One week before the opening C. Bland fell down the stairs in the gallery and died.  Almost immediately Margaret was informed of the huge amount of debt Mr. Jamison had incurred.  Without blinking, she decided number one to pay off the debt in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and number two to open the gallery as scheduled.  Truth is she loved fine art, but had no idea of how to run a gallery.  She decided to learn.  She was the first fine art gallery in Santa Fe – and for ten years she exhibited many well-established artists, all the while seeking out and nurturing new talents.

This is where it all began, Santa Fe’s first major art galleries.  Margaret Jamison and Jean Seth (Canyon Road Art Gallery) were pioneers – strong women who loved art and artists.   Margaret was a trusted confidant and friend to her artists – most of all she was kind and treated people fairly.  A gallery owner with great integrity.  Margaret exhibited and sold many of Ernie’s welded sculptures.  They had great success together.

Over the years Margaret became my good friend and mentor.  I remember a fairly large canvas I painted of a large green door in Cerrillos.  She took it on consignment and hung it downstairs in the gallery.  At the time I thought it was on par with a Rembrandt – as I write this I am embarrassed to realize she was being quite kind.  She was a social butterfly, loved a dirty joke and could belt out the blues on request.  If she wanted a quiet evening, she would come over for dinner and spend some time with my children  – they loved her and called her Aunt Margaret.  She is remembered with great love and affection.

More stories about Margaret in later posts – she was bigger than life!  I still miss her!

Credit: Margaret Jamison, oil portrait by Taos artist, Julian Robles.