the Governor's Arts Award Winners

Edward "Gus" Foster


2021 recipient, Individual Contributor to the Arts

Edward "Gus" Foster started his professional career in 1963 as an assistant curator in the prints and drawings department of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Within a brief period of five years, he rose to head curator and head of his department. Some of his early curatorial efforts were shows with such seminal artists as Ed Ruscha and Robert Rauschenberg.

After the success of these early shows, Foster moved to Los Angeles in 1972. During his time in L.A., he became acquainted with many other prominent artists in that area, some of whom would relocate to the Taos area in the 1970s. By 1975, Gus too had moved to Taos, embarking on a photographic odyssey and sharing a studio with his friend Larry Bell (a leading artist in the Light and Space movement as well a Governor's Award recipient).

Foster traversed on foot documenting the landscape and vistas of this awe-inspiring country with his unusual panoramic camera, his profound ability to focus on things that others miss only became more pronounced. Over time, he began to take an interest in Taos' Harwood Museum of Art and eventually donated private property he owned adjacent to the museum. He, his sister, and mother donated money to the museum for the establishment of the George Foster Jr. Gallery (in honor of his father).

Later, Foster was elected to the governing board of the Harwood where he helped spearhead fundraising for building the new museum wing on the property he had donated. This expansion made it possible for the museum to gain accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums. This afforded new opportunities for the Harwood to work with major art museums and collections. His association with the Harwood Museum led Foster to become involved with the University of New Mexico Foundation as a trustee. He also became a member of the museum's Collections Committee and helped guide that collection into the contemporary age. As a result of his unusually discerning eye, Foster's private collection included the work of artists working in New Mexico. He gradually expanded his collection to include Ken Price, Larry Bell, Ron Cooper, Kevin Cannon, Jim Wagner, Lee Mullican, Ron Davis, Robert Ellis, Bea Mandelman, and other artists working in a new era of New Mexican visual arts.

After 35 years of amassing this collection, Foster donated the Gus Foster Collection to the Harwood in 2013. A compendium of 391 works of art by more than 80 artists became part of the permanent museum collection. This extremely benevolent gesture was celebrated with an opening show in 2014, featuring 121 pieces from the Gus Foster Collection. He continues to collect the working artists of New Mexico with the intention of eventually donating even more work to the museum. This sustained patronage has enabled many working artists to continue with their craft and to mature aesthetically in new directions.