Dorothy Stewart and her sister, Margretta Dietrich, moved to Santa Fe in the mid-1920s and took up residence on Canyon Road. The sisters grew up wealthy in Philadelphia; in Santa Fe they turned their home into an art studio and gallery as well as a hotel and girls’ school. They called it El Zaguán, a sprawling property that is now owned by the Historic Santa Fe Foundation. Stewart was an illustrator, painter, and printmaker who became part of the social circle of creative women living in New Mexico at the time — Maria Chabot and Agnes Sims among them. Her work was strongly influenced by the local Hispanic and Native American cultures. In 1930, the Irish memoirist and war vet Ernie O’Malley came to Santa Fe from Taos, and the two became friends. That year, Stewart asked him to drive with her to Mexico so that she could continue a series of Mexican-inspired prints she was making. O’Malley was curious about indigenous and political art in post-revolution Mexico, so he joined the escapade. They spent eight months traveling and, when they returned, they collaborated on a book of her prints that featured his writing. The book was never published, but the prints went on to hang in O’Malley’s home in Ireland, to which he returned in 1935.
O’Malley’s son, Cormac, is an Irish historian and custodian of his father’s archives and art collection. He lectures frequently on his father’s legacy: his role in the Irish Civil War and his writings. Cormac O’Malley talks about his father’s relationship with Stewart in “Dorothy Stewart and Ernie O’Malley: Santa Fe’s 1930s Residents — An Artist and A Poet,” at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 21, at Historic Santa Fe Foundation’s El Zaguán (545 Canyon Road, Ste. 2). Admission is free for foundation members, $10 for public. Reservations are required; 505-983-2567, historicsantafe .org/events.