Edward S. Curtis: The California Region

This selection from Edward Curtis's 1920's photographs of the North American Indian demonstrates Curtis's ability to preserve a marvelous culture, which was being inexorably destroyed, without sacrificing the spirit of that culture. The Curtis collection is one of the largest photographic archives ever produced by a single artist and probably the most profound representation of pure Indian culture ever assembled.

Curtis's completed publication, The North American Indian, consists of 20 volumes of text with 1,500 small plates, plus 20 portfolios of 36 unbound gravure plates, comprising a total of approximately 2,500 images. The 36 plates on vellum in this exhibition include portraits detailing the culture of the following tribes in the California region: Wailaki, Wappo, Maidu, Miwok, Chukchansi, Yuelmani, Yokuts and Yaudanchi.

Several photographs, such as "A Summer Camp - Lake Pomo," "Fishing Camp - Lake Pomo," "The Fishing Pool - Southern Miwok," and "On the Shores of Clear Lake," graphically capture the beauty of the western coast where these tribes lived. This collection also includes many photographs of Indian baskets, tools and utensils, including "Gathering Tules - Lake Pomo," illustrating the round-stem tule used for thatching houses: "Pomo Seed-Gathering Utensils"; and "Rattlesnake Design in Yokuts Basketry," photographs of coiled baskets used for cooking liquids with heated stones. Among the beautiful portraits in this exhibition are "A Yaudanchi Yokuts Woman," "A Pomo Girl," a portrait of a young girl wearing a clamshell bead necklace with a highly valued magnesite bead, and "Otila-Maidu," depicting Jack France, the principle source of information about the Maidu.

Larger selections of other tribes or other combinations of Curtis's work may be arranged upon request.