SANTA FE, N.M. — An optimist, a seer, a magnetic personality and a self-described phoenix — that is how family and friends are remembering artist Margarete Bagshaw, who died Thursday at the age of 50.
The Santa Fe resident was the third generation of female painters in her family, with groundbreaking Santa Clara Pueblo artist Pablita Velarde her grandmother and Helen Hardin her mother.
The works of all three women are displayed in the Golden Dawn Gallery, 201 Galisteo St., opened by Bagshaw in 2009. She and her second husband, Dan McGuinness, also worked with other artists to open the Pablita Velarde Museum of Indian Women in the Arts on Cathedral Place in 2012.
The couple celebrated their fifth anniversary two weeks ago. “We had a big dinner party and she was the star attraction,” McGuinness said Friday. “In the last five years, we’ve surrounded ourselves with the most incredible family of friends. A ‘family’ dinner could be eight people to 28 people.”
Bagshaw was diagnosed with a brain tumor and suffered a stroke nine weeks ago, leading to her death.
McGuinness said she seemed to have a sense something was coming, writing her own memoir in 2012, despite people teasing her for doing it at such a young age, and oversaw biographies of her mother and grandmother. That same year, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe also displayed a solo career retrospective of Bagshaw’s work.
A modernist in the painting world, Bagshaw’s work often used brilliant hues in abstract patterns, layering paint and often incorporating Native American iconography on canvases that sometimes extended to 12 feet wide. She did things in a big way, in art and in her life.
“Painting in complex compositions that feature a dynamic color palette, her work is instantly recognizable. Her large monumental canvases honor the work of her mother and grand mother and are truly a testament to the significant place the women of her family hold in the art world..,” says the Golden Dawn Gallery website in describing her work.
She often worked on several paintings at a time, comparing the work to a chess master moving down a row of tables playing multiple games.
Kate Nelson, author of the Helen Hardin biography, wrote in a tribute to Bagshaw, “… she emboldened her friends to dream big and strive past their supposed limits. She donated her time, money and heart — even a kidney, in 2002 — to various causes and people.
“She held a rock-hard work ethic and lived with gusto. She threw lavish dinner parties, loved dogs (especially Maggie the goldendoodle), and indulged an unapologetic weakness for cute shoes. Her laugh could melt icicles.”
McGuiness called Bagshaw “without a doubt the most spiritual person I ever met,” adding that she was anti-religion. “She saw things differently, in more ways than one.”
Besides her husband, Bagshaw is survived by her children, Helen and Forrest Tindel. Her body has been cremated and only a small, private memorial service will be held, McGuinness said.