Astronaut's Success Puts Artist In Orbit
The Indianapolis Star
By Jane Allison

...New York -- Only a very unusual man named Umaña was artistically ready for triple orbital life this week, when it finally became a reality.
...That's because, like Glenn himself, Umaña has been a bit out of this world to his wife Helen and a few other admirers for a long time. And so it was no surprise to them that with roughly 160 art galleries all jammed to the brim with notable concoctions of life as it may or may never be, only the Jansen Gallery at 950 Madison Avenue, which carries a continuing Umaña exhibit, was ready for the curiosity following the epoch flight of the "Friendship."
...What they were ready with were a large number of water color, oil and ink portraits of other planet landscapes and views soon to be gazed on by man.
...Suddenly, Madison Avenue, which had exhibited interest but nothing wild, of course, somehow found "Tenseless Time" and "Storm Freshened Earth" and "Nostalgia In Space" and "Approaching Sun" and "Ebbing View" and Earth Segment," to name but a few of Umaña's "gate Into Space" exhibits, of utterly exciting interest.

...IT IS WELL that Umaña's art and John Glenn's monumental achievement have strange separate orbits of their two lives, for though Umaña has bee a prized addition to such homes as the Baroness du Rothchild, Prince Felix Naryshkin and comedian Robert Q. Lewis, --to name but a few--and in the museums of Toledo, Cleveland, Rutgers University, San Francisco and others, still, those acquainted with his figures, his flowers, his still lifes and, landscapes are not so many that more shouldn't be added.
...The man from Ohio may possibly have brought the artist from Bogota, Colombia, the audience, finally, that his art has deserved all along.

...SPEAKING personally, Umaña's outer-space conceptions are not nearly so intriguing to me as his flower arrangements. Those exotic, gloriously shaped and colored flower are (in the words of a critic who didn't know about Umaña's coming penchant for drawing the landscapes of the planets) described this way:
...We are not taken out of this world (with them) but we sit down on the earth with a poet to wait for the flowers to grow. This painter uses not tricks."
...Ah, but Umaña does use tricks. Tricks with a paint brush in use eight regular hours a day; tricks that come from a delightful marriage to Helen McGehee, a miniature beauty now assuming most of the original Martha Graham roles in the Martha Graham Dance company; and tricks that come from a zest for life in its simplest but most ultimate sense.
...IF YOU WANT to call those tricks, they are the tricks of the thoroughly Thoreauvian man. The man who has lived "simplify, simplify, simplify" for so long, he now has nothing left but everything. And these he puts on his canvas.
...The glories of color, the richness of the senses, the thrill of air and sun, climate and compassion--everything Umaña is himself.

Writes Leroy Leatherman of this artist:
"Umaña took his instruction from cubism, but like any other serious artist he uses it as his discipline, not his tyrant. He goes from abstraction to representation, and works all the intermediate stages with obvious authority and ease. The source of his authority as an artist is his sensibility, his feeling which goes directly to his canvas, the way all artists always pray it will. It rarely happens, but when it does, it is delightful thing to encounter."