(Paul) Brooks Willis

b. 1903 –Farmington, NM
d. 1981–Santa Fe, NM

Education

Willis lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the location of Broadmoor Art Academy where a number of Santa Fe and Taos artists had been either students or faculty during the time when northern New Mexico was gaining prominence as an art center. Since Willis was later appointed Director of the Harwood Foundation in Taos and was a University of New Mexico Art Department instructor, it is possible that he attended Broadmoor.

Brooks Willis was among the younger artists affiliated with the New Deal Federal Art Projects. There are few biographical markers tracing his activity prior to and during the New Deal period in New Mexico

In 1936, Willis is mentioned as teaching students. It is known that he was involved in collaborative mural painting projects during the New Deal FAP in New Mexico. Willis’ eclectic painting style moved from impressionist to modernist and cubist styles; his landscapes and architectural abstractions were simplified to spare, flat planar surfaces. Buildings were rendered as transparent planes of light and landforms as geometric masses.

Brooks Willis later studied art in Paris prior to World War II and joined the American Volunteers Ambulance Corps in France during that time. Willis lived in California from the early 1940s for several decades but returned to New Mexico during the remaining decade of his life.

Museums

Los Angeles County Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque, NM
University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, NM
New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fé, NM
Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH
The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK
Exhibitions
Santa Barbara Museum, Santa Barbara, CA
M.H.de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA
Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Seattle Art Museum Seattle, WA
Federal Art Projects
Willis produced over fifteen paintings and which were dispersed to facilities throughout New Mexico as part of the Federal Art Project. Willis
Collections
Clayton Public Schools, Clayton, NM
McKinley County Courthouse, Gallup, NM
Las Cruces Public Schools, Las Cruces, NM
Eastern New Mexico University, Golden Library, Portales, NM
New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, NM (Six of seven murals were recently restored by the National New Deal Preservation Association.)
Smithsonian Museum, Washington, DC

Murals (destroyed or in private collections)

Bernalillo County Courthouse, Albuquerque, NM. A collaborative mural done with Esquipula Romero de Romero, Stuart Walker and Willis, is now in private ownership.
Highlands University, Ilfeld Auditorium, Las Vegas, NM (7 small murals painted over).
U.S. Forest Service, District Office, Albuquerque, NM (done with Stuart Walker and now in a private collection)