Supporting the Arts Since 1954
The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico (HWF) is a private, 501(c)(3) non-profit, educational and charitable organization committed to supporting the arts.
Founded in 1954, the HWF manages one of the oldest artist residency programs in the USA. The Foundation’s mission is to “Support the artist and the creative process” and serves as a haven for visual artists, literary artists and music composers.
The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation is located on fifteen acres in the heart of Taos, New Mexico, a multicultural community renowned for its popularity with artists.
The Legacy of Helene Wurlitzer
from the Harwood Collection
From November 3rd, 2018 to May 5th, 2019, the Harwood Museum of Art will be exhibiting works by alumni of The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. This unprecedented event will feature thirty visual artists who have been beneficiaries of the Foundation during the 65 years that it has perpetuated the legacy of Helene Wurlitzer.
Buff Haney: 1965, 1966
Sandra Lerner: 1978, 1989
Marcia Oliver: 1968-1969
Nancy Brown: 1990,1993
Emil Bisttram: 1954-1956 (Board Member)
Hugh Gibson: 1965, 1966, 1967
Patriciño Barela: patronage
Edwardo Rael: patronage
Mildred Tolbert: 1973
Vernon Fimple, 1977, '78, 2003, '06, '11, '17
Artist Residency Program
The Foundation offers three months of rent-free and utility-paid housing to people who specialize in the creative arts. Our eleven guest houses, or casitas, are fully furnished and provide residents with a peaceful setting in which to pursue their creative endeavors.
The Foundation accepts applications from painters, poets, sculptors, writers, playwrights, screenwriters, composers, photographers, and filmmakers of national and international origin.
Applications are reviewed by a selection committee consisting of professionals who specialize in the artistic discipline of the applicant. Numerous jurors serve on committees for each: visual arts, music composers, writers, poets, playwrights, and filmmakers. Jurors, who know nothing about the artist's demographics, score in five categories based purely on the merit of the applicant's creative work samples.
Artists in residence have no imposed expectations, quotas, or requirements during their stay on the HWF campus. The HWF’s residency program provides artists with the time and space to create, which in turn enriches the artistic community and culture locally and abroad.
Touching Artist Lives
For 65 years the HWF has committed to perpetuating Helene's legacy of supporting artists by providing charitable assistance to thousands of artists from all over the world. Past grantees have included painter Agnes Martin, Pulitzer Prize winning writer N. Scott Momaday, award-winning composer Andrea Clearfield, painter and independent filmmaker Cynthia Madansky, amongst many others.
N. Scott Momaday
Visual Arts, 2017
I feel very much honored in being chosen to receive assistance from the Wurlitzer Foundation. Till now I had never sought nor received any real recognition for my work. I did not realize how encouraging it could be. Your kindness has been a positive moral uplift. Your action in this has become the most encouraging event for art in this country that I have ever witnessed. I hope to do worthily. Thank you for all your considerations. 
During my residency at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, I came into a different pace of living and of creativity. Arriving from bustling New York City, I discovered Taos's unmistakeable ease. This place encouraged a spaciousness and clarity of thought in my composing process. Sitting on the porch of my cozy casita, enjoying the scent of petrichor and cottonwoods after one of Taos's summer afternoon rainstorms, I s...
My residency at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation was truly transformative and inspirational. I was able to use my time in Casita Number 3 to finish the manuscript for my book The Magic of Mariachi. The executive director at that time, Michael Knight, was extremely helpful and supportive. Moreover, I came to know and love Taos, which has a very special place in my heart. Saludos and Kudos to the Wurlitzer Foundation!
My six weeks in Taos at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation were incredibly transformative. I "worked like a fiend" and enjoyed every moment, learning so much about the foundation, the city, the culture, the landscape and the region. I can close my eyes and feel it all over again. I met wonderful people, ate great food, planned a party. When I went home I had a new body of work. Thank you so much, HWF, for giving me t...
The residency at the Wurlitzer is a gift I'll always treasure. The magic of Taos continues to influence my life and work. After having spent a very productive three months there, I'm convinced no other place or community on earth cherishes creative spirits with such kindness and generosity.
This residency had a profound impact on me and my work. The Wurlitzer Foundation's mission is a gift of time to artists and I will always be grateful for the space and support this fellowship generously offers. The setting is historic and the landscape is breathtaking. I was there during the winter and it helped me to fall in love with winter....the stillness and quiet coaxed new ways of making work and re-ignite...
[2-16-1973] This period here at the foundation is a unique experience for me - that is, it is the first time in my adult life that I have not felt responsible for myself and/or others, and the fact that I received this grant has had great psychological impetus for me.
...There were lots of people at the opening and both shows look good! - But I'm exhausted and am looking forward to just painting and some peace and quiet again. I shall busy myself preparing for an April show...
I am grateful for the opportunities in my work that the Foundation has made possible.
[from 1973 letter to H.A.S.]
Robert C Ellis
My Wurlitzer Foundation grant has given me the time and freedom to study myself and my painting. It has given me time for concentrated creativity, time to select the best from my experiences both past and present.
Taos is a place filled with magic, and the Wurlitzer Foundation makes that magic real for artists of all kinds. From the first moment I entered the town, saw the fiery sky and the holy mountains, felt the history and the cultures, I knew I was home.
The work period at the Wurlitzer has had a huge impact on me and my work. It gave me back my work flow and it has brought me a more playful and organic approach. I can't live without creating. The fact that I was able to create without the pressure of an upcoming show or having to work my night job, gave me such a breather. Art is Spirit. I saw that in one of Helene Wurlitzer's rooms of the main house, where the D...
Since we came to Taos in April of this year, we have been spending our most happy time in accumulating ideas for our work. During our stay in Taos I would like to make a new phase of my career. Now I am learning everything from the beautiful "Nature" in Taos. This beauty of Taos is probably impossible to capture in a short time...
I have been overwhelmed with the beauty and majesty of New Mexico.
Wonderful gift of space and time to focus on my work.
My time at the Wurlitzer foundation was not only personally and artistically transformational, but the most creative period of my career. It's simply impossible to put into words the experience of living on the campus, surrounded by the sublime beauty of Taos and northern New Mexico. Following the footsteps of some of the world's greatest artists to Taos, with the support and generosity of everyone at the Wurlitze...
A wonderful experience in all categories. New friends, beautiful adventures and the start on a new path in my work.
The summer of 2017 was an invaluable experience, to be surrounded by the beauty of the desert and the energy of the other artists in residence. Once I set up my recording gear and sat down at the grand piano with the sole purpose of writing new music, creativity started filling every corner of the casita. There is something magical about Taos and Helene Wurlitzer's legacy and I would recommend this to every artist...
I am appreciative of and grateful for my time at The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation.
This residency gave me time... three months of time. I was not only able to move forward with new work, but I also had the luxury to finish up those dozens of projects that had been "hanging fire" for years. Invaluable!
I am ever-grateful for the opportunity to be at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. The respect and confirmation for my work early in my career, helped me honor myself as an artist. The gift of unfettered time in such a beautiful place and the sense of community with the other residents, fed my creativity. The experience continues to inspire my artistic life with a sense of openness to this day.
In many respects, my residency at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation saved my life. This is not hyperbole. I wasn't even certain I would be able to accept the residency. My mamma had fallen very ill. She died a few days before I was scheduled to leave. I was beyond devastated. The day after the memorial, my husband packed me up into my Jeep and insisted I take the trek to Taos. And what a trek. I drove into TWO typho...
I feel fortunate to be in residence at the Wurlitzer for many reasons. Not only does it afford me the time to work undisturbed but it also allows me the space in which to be continually inspired by the work of a diverse range of artists, musicians and writers who make up the town of Taos. What greater gift for an artist than to have the solitude to create in a landscape that continually inspires.
This residency time at HWF was such a great experience. The campus provides such a perfect surrounding for creating in peace, with a very positive philosophy and deep concern about each artist well-being. Certainly one of the most productive time of my life !
Now a working artist in Santa Fe for twenty years, I thank Wurlitzer Foundation for introducing me to this most beautiful part of the world. My association with the foundation as well as the other artists has been life changing. I have been working primarily in Encaustic for the last twenty years, and throughout this time the magnificent New Mexico landscape, as well as the Santa Fe art world have been instrumenta...
I was honored and delighted to be awarded the Wurlitzer Residency. Having visited New Mexico over many years, by living and painting in Taos for three months, I was inspired and stimulated by the land, the people, the arts community, and the comradery of my fellow resident artists.
What a privilege to join an elite group of artists, immersed in expression, sharing in fellowship!
I feel very blessed to have twice been a Wurlitzer Foundation Fellow (1997, 2017). My first stay imprinted Taos, and the surrounding landscape, indelibly on my creative psyche. When I returned twenty years later, the feeling only deepened, and has led me into a series of poems focused on the area. I now intend to spend a good deal of my time here; Taos continues to inspire.
One of the best moments of my life, I spent in the Casitas of the Foundation, writing, and then walking and talking with so many friends! Greetings to everyone from Buenos Aires, especially Michael Knight, whom I always remember.
Painting must communicate!
I had to get special permission from the Pueblo Chief; turns out he was watching me from day one, awed that I could stay so still for all those hours each day standing at my easel. I ended up giving him a drawing of Taos Mountain which is his religion, which then became mine the more I drew it. I had been pulling my easel and drawing board all throughout the landscape searching for composition, (on a bright hot p...
Remembering my terrific residency with the Wurlitzer Foundation, luminous sunset memories of Taos flood the mind — the arms-flung-wide light over Taos. I recall peace and clarity of thought, the sense that each studio-casita was a small hive in which wild-buzzing creative ideas were distilled into honey. Best of all, I arrived with storage boxes of handwritten drafts and left with manuscripts and clarity! It was...
My time at the Wurlitzer Foundation was absolutely transformational. The location is idyllic, the support is absolute, and inspiration is everywhere. I loved being able to set my own schedule and to socialize as much or as little as I desired. The wonderful casitas are close enough to the town when you need to run errands, stock up on groceries, get coffee or a bite—but they have the feeling of being off the bea...
I absolutely loved my time at The Wurlitzer Foundation. I can't think of a more inspiring or supportive environment in the country.
My time at the Wurlitzer Foundation was truly transformative. I am deeply grateful for being given the opportunity to have lived and worked in such a beautiful place with such creative people.
My time at the Wurlitzer Foundation has been one of my most productive residencies and rewarding artistic experiences. Northern New Mexico is an absolutely enchanting place that I hope to return to again and again.
I would highly recommend the Wurlitzer Foundation residency to any artist. Helene Wurlitzer knew exactly what she was doing when she structured the program to provide maximum creative freedom, with minimal expectation. The time spent at my casita and with my fellow residents was pleasant, positive and productive. I'm very grateful for the experience.
What a magical and life-altering experience I had, from mid April-mid July 2008. My work is still influenced by those days. Fellowship with so many creative people has led to life-long friendships. I don't recall the number of my casita; it was at the end of Los Panditos. My website is www.dorothyenglander.com Sending the foundation my deepest appreciation, Dorothy Englander
Linda Lightsey Rice
I have been so fortunate to be a resident artist at the Wurlitzer Foundation on several occasions, and these residencies have had a profound impact on my creative life. I completed portions of my second novel here in Taos, and many friendships formed at the Wurlitzer have influenced how I see my own work as well as the role of the artist in general. The near-pastoral setting of the artist casitas, the foundation's...
From the moment I first heard about the Helen Wurlitzer Residency in Taos and made my application I found myself engaged in an extraordinary and unexpected life changing experience. It has had deep and profound effect on me, my attitude to life and my art practice.
I decided to use the three month period to explore 'who am I as a creative woman, when I don't have a project, genre, or any other structure to guide...
Being at Wurlitzer was like a long meditation. It allowed me to reach another level of consciousness and to live and work in this space for over three months. From here flowed my writing, and oh, how it flowed.
It was a great privilege to spend two months in Taos as a fellow at the Wurlitzer Foundation. I finished a novel and generated the first draft of another while in residence. I am so grateful to the Foundation!
Thank you for providing a space of tranquility and inspiration during my various sojourns there. It has always been a relief to arrive at one of the Wurlitzer casitas where I know I can concentrate on my writing and photography free of distractions--so rare and so necessary if one is to get serious about one's work.
When I was invited to attend the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation residency, in 2008, it was a crucial period in my artistic path. I so needed time to reconnect with studio practice and it gave me a great opportunity to trust myself, experiment different things and find new confidence in my work. I also enjoyed very much the casita, the natural environment, cycling, going to the farmer’s market, visiting museums, art...
These three months of legitimate leave were grandiose. I finally tasted the state of serendipity, this opening that allows to discover what we do not seek! The first residency allowed me to reconnect with my child's soul and to understand that the game is a royal road to creativity and trust. And during the second, I was able to work with concentration on a novel that will soon be published here in France.
N. Scott Momaday
This is to greet you warmly and to thank you sincerely for your generous assistance. I do indeed very much appreciate the accommodations you made available to me. Not only were they comfortable; they were exactly appropriate to my purpose, and I got a lot of work done.
To tell you the truth, I miss the rituals of getting out of my Taos bed and opening the curtains on that splendid view of snow falling in the tre...
(Laurie) Franciszka Voeltz
When director Michael Knight told my fellow residents and I that our time at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation was to be used in whatever way best serves work and our selves (whether that meant sleeping for three months or writing every day for ten hours a day or anywhere in between), I took it to heart. It was precisely that kind of non-pressure, generous support and trust that allowed me to push through some major...
Hee Sook Kim
The residency in the Wurlitzer Foundation has transformed my artistic path every time I was in.
The time was just inspiring and atmosphere was magical. I always enthusiastically recommend the residency to my fellow artists. The surrounding with Taos mountain is surreal.
It's very subtle, quick and profound. I'm speaking of the magical transformation, both personally and artistically, that takes place when you arrive in Taos and enter your private casita. This phenomenon has been spoken about and written about by artists of all stripes who have had the pleasure and the honor of being invited to The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation\'s unique settlement. The individual experiences range...
Serenity. Productivity. Generosity... Apt descriptors of the three months I lived and wrote as a poet-resident at Casita #10S. Pink-kissed mornings inspired aubades, the magpies’ constant chatter influenced the aural sensibility of my new work, and the ever-pervasive pinyon distilled an acute sense of olfactory responsibility in my verse... This time—seemingly enchanted and surreal yet nonetheless real--create...
I enjoyed a 5-month writing residency at The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico - 1/97 through 6/97. This was, I believe, the first winter that the foundation's homes were open to residents.
I didn't understand it at the time, but my stay at HWF was the perfect transition stop; it became the crossroads of my life and key to making the decision to leave the corporate world and connect more fully with ...
Colleen Morton Busch
My stay in HWF was a long time ago, just after I’d returned from living in Beijing. I needed a place to lay down the foundations of a manuscript about my experience in China. HWF gave me the gift of time and space, and the bonus of being surrounded by beauty and artistic fellowship. I set that manuscript aside to work on other projects, but recently, I rescued it from a drawer and knew exactly what I needed to d...
Of the residencies I've had, the Wurlitzer was ideally designed. To have my own house, my own studio, and a group of equally independent colleagues made for a situation where I could work intensively in isolation, do things with others when the mood hit, and focus focus focus. Those choices were so important to me. The good length of time, 3 months, also enabled that period of settling in to happen and then a soli...
I cherish the time I spent in Taos and think of it often. I was moved by the mountains, the adobe, the painters, the desert, the hot springs, by the story of Helene Wurlitzer herself -- a woman who found herself in the Southwest, wanting to support the creative lives of artists, writers, musicians, anyone who feels called to create something.
I really became embedded in the Taos area while I was at the Wurlitzer and especially so because my project was about the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. I relished my days of exploring the region,hours of research in the public library and becoming comfortable with a town full of cultural material so different from my Midwestern and New England experience. I became so attached to New Mexico that I determined to "find a ...
I love the quiet and solitude of the casitas. I came to love the town and the state. I found here much to think and write about. It’s become physically necessary to return to Taos as often as I can.
 The Foundation continues to be an important aspect of my work... I always seem to develop new ideas, new themes and approaches while I'm here. Perhaps just as important, I discard the old ones as well.
I am grateful to the Foundation for all it has contributed to my personal growth.
My three months at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation were the happiest, most fulfilling, and most productive of my life. I’ve been home for seven months now, and every single day I think, with great longing, about Taos, my casita, my desk, the view from my window, the mountains, and the walk through town. I miss the sense of time expanding and I miss the light. You’ll see the most beautiful sunsets in Taos, and ...
My first stay was a kind of paradise -- and my second stay was another kind of paradise.
Whenever I think of those weeks and months, I am awash in gratitude.
I have no words to express how wonderful and productive and connected this time has been. I was utterly inspired! Thank you for everything!
With much gratitude and appreciation.
In 2013 I was awarded a 3 month fellowship at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos. This was a profound experience for me as an artist. Time to spend away from my life in Canada, pursue and concentrate on the work, experience another environment and it just allowed time.
The wonderful support and kindness from Michael Knight is a memory that stays with me. I am grateful for the time.
My residency at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos was one of the most profound and life-changing experiences of my life to date. I would encourage every artist to apply for the Residency. The solitude, and the gift of time to reflect, work, and soul search combined with the special energy of Taos provides a truly unique experience!
An amazing residency. Wonderful.
HWF is an amazing oasis where time stops and allows one to focus solely on their work for a few months. With so little distractions, such an amazing environment, gorgeous views, and clear air, I was able to finish many personal projects that were always set aside when in my regular workplace.
I wish a similar experience to all future residents.
Thanks to everyone at the Foundation!
Time, space, place and people - this convergence at HWF was life-altering. The freedom I experienced allowed my work to change in ways I didn't anticipate. Connections to other artists - now friends, has been an added bonus.
My time at the foundation has been an enormous and deeply appreciated gift. Quiet, undistracted focus in the studio allowed my work to grow like a pot-bound tree placed into the ground.
I will be grateful all my life for the gift of time provided to me by the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and for the profound kindness of Nic Knight and my fellow artists in residence. This is a special place to grow.
Supporting Future Artists & Diversity
In addition to residency grants further enhancing its commitment to the arts, the HWF offers academic scholarships to graduating high school students who wish to enter college as art majors. Each year, with support from the Caruso Family Foundation, at least two emerging art students from the Taos community are selected to receive the scholarship.
In 2009 the HWF began collaborating with the Chesley/Bumbalo Foundation to bring such playwrights as Ben Benne, Mashuq Deen, and Rae Binstock to campus to work on LGBTQ theater.