Hannah and Louisa McElwain met in the New Mexico desert drawn together magically – which for Hannah is a common experience in “the land of enchantment.”
Hannah loves to paint in the Abiquiu area and especially in the desert where Ghost Ranch is located. Georgia O’Keeffe also loved to paint there.
One day, Hannah remembers, while setting up to paint at Ghost Ranch, a white pick up truck pulled up. A lady got out, stuck out her hand and said, “Hi, I’m Louisa McElwain.” At that time Louisa was one of Hannah’s art idols, and she had magazines in her own truck with photos of Louisa’s paintings. Flushed with a star struck shock, Hannah choked a greeting and soon retreated to a space she normally would not have painted because she was not about to paint next to Louisa McElwain !! Later, as the day ended and they admired each other’s paintings, Louisa said, “Wow! You certainly aren’t inhibited by what’s there!” They then talked for about an hour, and Louisa invited Hannah to visit her home and studio in Espanola. It was the beginning of a marvelous friendship. Throughout the next year, they painted together, shopped for primitive antiques for Hannah’s adobe near Abiquiu, and went on adventures searching in the desert for places to paint and for old abandoned adobes.
Hannah loved old trucks and tractors and inspired Louisa to paint with her at Sams Tractor Repair Shop in Espanola.
This series resulted in a two women
Tractor Painting show at Manitou
in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2007.
A fascinating expression of their friendship were two tractor paintings co-created simultaneously by Hannah and Louisa. You can see the intriguing blending of their two styles. These co-created paintings were shown in Santa Fe at Louisa’s “Retrospective.”
(See the works of both Hannah Shook and Louisa McElwain at EVOKE Contemporary Gallery)
Drawn to Hannah’s painting vibrancy, Louisa also had her own experiences of channeling nature’s energy. She told Hannah of times in the desert while painting where she would feel the energy so much that her legs would be shaking in tremors, and she could barely keep standing at her easel and continue painting.
It’s been five years since Louisa went on to new vistas, and Hannah still misses her.
LOUISA REDFIELD MCELWAIN MAY 8, 1953 – FEBRUARY 26, 2013 of Espanola, New Mexico.
Born Nashua, New Hampshire.
See the works of both Hannah Shook and Louisa McElwain at EVOKE Contemporary