America's Wilderness in Art: A Growing Collection
January 10 - March 21, 2010
Museums form their collections both by design and by accident. They should all have a Collections Plan, so that they can purchase works, as they become available, that relate to their mission and complement their collection. Most, however, are the happy recipients of unexpected gifts. As a fledgling museum, the Wildling Art Museum is still developing its Collections Plan and raising funds necessary to realize its objectiv es. For some years, the Museum was able to put aside 5 percent of every $1000 donated for general operating support into an Acquisitions Fund. We have purchased a few works using those funds, but many desirable art works are being sold at prices beyond our means.
In 2000, the very first work acquired for the collection, John Fery’s Cascade on the Firehole, was a Museum purchase. Since then, the Museum has attempted to purchase works from its exhibitions, though in many cases, such as Ansel Adams, Ray Strong, and Bob Kuhn, this w as not possible. Recently, the Museum has also asked exhibiting artists to donate works to the Museum’s permanent collection, which they are often pleased to do. We are grateful to the many donors who have contributed their art works to the collection, in particular Marlene and Warren Miller, Mr. and Mrs.Gordon Fish, the Schaeffer Foundation, Barry Berkus and the Berk us Family, Elsie Hunt, Shana Nemeth, Lockwood de Forest IV, Macduff Everton, Clyde Butcher, Roger Craton, Beverly McCurdy, Ines Roberts, and many others. With fewer than one hundred objects, the W ildling’s collection is still a “work in progress,” but it is big enough now, on the tenth anniversary of the Museum’s opening to the public and the first anniversary of our move to the new building, that we can look at its range and quality and take pride. The Museum is grateful to Louise Clarke, John Carbon, and Northern Trust for their partial support of this exhibition and would also like to thank Bob Knowles for photographing the Wildling’s collection.
Elizabeth P. Knowles
JOHN FERY (1859-1934)
John Fery was born in Austria of a prominent family and trained in Vienna, Dusseldorf, Karlsruhe, and Munich. Seeking opportunity, he immigrated to America in 1886 and settled on the Eastern seaboard, painting landscape and hunting scenes. In 1892-3, he organized a hunting party through the Midwest and Far West for European aristocrats. It was during this trip and another that followed in 1895 that he discovered the dramatic landscapes of the Rockies and began painting them. His fortune was made when in 1910 he met Louis Hill, President of the Great Northern Railway Company, who hired the European-trained artist to paint dramatic scenes of the Rockies, which he hoped might entice people to “See America First,” to ride the railroad and stay in his lodges and hotels. Over the course of the next five years, Fery painted over 300 canvases, a great many of Glacier National Park, for the ticket offices, stations, and hotels of the Great Northern Railway.
The Museum owns three Fery paintings: Cascade on the Firehole (1912), purchased in 2000, and Blue Lake and Mount Saint Nicholas, given to the Museum by Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Fish in 2001. The latter two depict scenes from Glacier National Park, while the former depicts the spot on the Firehole River in western Yellowstone, where the river, picking up speed as it courses through the geyser pools above, suddenly plunges over a rocky ledge and through a narrow gorge marked by a distinctiv e, naturally formed rock obelisk. It was, in fact, near this very spot, at the confluence of the Firehole and Madison Rivers, the Hayden Expedition camped in 1870 and entertained the idea of protecting the area for the benefit of future Americans. The recommendation of the survey expedition was forwarded to Washington, along with Thomas Moran’s famous field sketches, and two years later Yellowstone was made our first national park.
HENRY J. BREUER (1860-1932)
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Breuer moved to San Francisco in 1888 and set about painting the landscape of California and southern Oregon. In 1906, he established a studio in Santa Barbara. By 1910, he had gained an international reputation, his landscape Santa Ynez Mountains awarded a gold medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition in 1915. Breuer’s large panoramic painting From the Lowest to the Highest Point in the United States, painted in 1918, was given to the Museum by the Schaeffer Foundation. It depicts the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with Mt. Whitney in the distant middle, and in the foreground the Alabama Hills, the Owens River, and the brackish water that drains into Death Valley. From the top of Mt. Whitney (14,494 feet abov e sea level) to Death Valley (282 feet below sea level) is a straight-line distance of 65 miles. Of course, Breuer employed some “artistic license,” because one cannot see Mt. Whitney from Death Valley due to the intervening Panamint and Inyo Mountain ranges. However, the painting does capture the breathtaking effect of the vertical, snow-covered ranges, stretching as far as the eye can see, which we still admire today from Highway 395.
EVERETT RUESS (1914-1934)
An extraordinarily sensitive and intuitive young artist, Ruess was born in Los Angeles and raised by parents who nurtured his creativity. His mother, Stella, who was an artist herself, taught him how to make linoleum block prints. He spent the last four years of his brief life exploring wilderness areas along the California coast, in Yosemite, and the deserts and canyons of northern Arizona and southern Utah, writing letters and poems that were sent home, and making drawings, watercolors, and block prints along the way. Then, suddenly and mysteriously, at the age of 20, Ruess disappeared. His last letters indicated that he was headed to Escalante Canyon, Utah, and investigators looking for him months later found evidence that he had been there. A skeleton that was discovered in 2008 near Bluff, Utah, some 60 miles from where he was last seen, was initially thought to be that of Ruess, but forensic studies and DNA analysis have disproved this theory.
The Museum owns 24 of Ruess’s linoleum block prints, the gift of Marlene and Warren Miller and the Arlington Gallery. One, Sentinels of the Wild, was printed by Ruess himself between 1930 and 1934. The others were printed posthumously in 1985 in an edition of 50 from original blocks recovered by his brother Waldo or reconstructed from artist proofs or original drawings by Thomas Carlyle and Stuart Steinhardt. The striking black and white designs of the prints reveal Ruess’s keen sense of the balance of positive and negative shapes and reflect his absorption of contemporary Craftsman and Art Nouveau styles.
ROBERT A. CALE (1940-1990)
Born in Stonington, Connecticut, Cale studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design and went to Paris in 1969 to apprentice with the famous etcher Stanley Hayter at his Atelier 17. It was there that he learned the technique of viscosity printing, which allows one to print several colors simultaneously without requiring separate plates. When Cale returned to New England, he applied this technique to printing fish, following the example of the Japanese art form of Gyotaku, where actual specimens are inked and then damp paper is pressed on top of them to capture their form and texture—literally “fish rubbings.” Thus, Cale became a pioneer of fish printing in America, experimenting with all kinds of special effects, including multiple images of fish on a single sheet of paper. He disseminated his techniques through classes he taught at Pratt Institute in New York City, at Trinity College in Hartford, the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and at his own Stonington Print Workshop. He was also a dedicated fisherman, providing most of the fish for his prints himself, and died accidentally when his lobsterboat capsized in Fishers Island Sound.
The Museum acquired nine etchings and fish prints by Robert Cale as a gift from his daughter Shana Nemeth in 2007. They reveal an artist who was as enamored of the process as the product.
Carl Oscar Borg (1879–1947) On the Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona, 1932, Etching on paper, Museum purchase in memory of Bruce S. McCurdy
Henry J. Breuer (1860–1932) From the Lowest to the Highest Point in the United States, 1918, Oil on canvas, Gift of the Schaeffer Foundation
George Elbert Burr (1859–1939) Desert Monuments, Arizona, Etching on paper, Anonymous Gift
George Elbert Burr (1859–1939) Cloud Shadows, Apache Trail, Arizona, Etching on paper, Anonymous Gift
Clyde Butcher, Big Cypress Gallery, 2000, Giclee print, Gift of the artist
Clyde Butcher, Cape Romano, 10, 2003, Giclee print, Gift of the artist
Clyde Butcher, Ghost Orchid, 1, 1999, Giclee print, Gift of the artist
Robert A. Cale (1940–1990), Reflections, 1970, Etching on paper, Gift of Shana Nemeth
Robert A. Cale (1940–1990), Windstream, 1970, Etching on paper, Gift of Shana Nemeth
Robert A. Cale (1940–1990) Untitled (fish unknown), Fish print, Gift of Shana Nemeth
Robert A. Cale (1940–1990) Untitled (six flounders) Fish print, Gift of Shana Nemeth
Russell Chatham Storm Across the Prairie, 2006, Color lithograph, Gift of Marlene and Warren Miller
Roger Craton, Orca Blowing, 2005, Giclee print, Gift of the artist
Roger Craton, Penguin Playground, 2005, Giclee print, Gift of the artist
Lockwood de Forest (1850–1932) Petrified Forest, Arizona, Oil on board, Gift of Lockwood de Forest IV
D. L. Engle, Puma Ways, 2007, Bronze, Museum purchase
D. L. Engle Drawing for Puma Ways, 2007, Graphite on paper, Gift of the artist
Macduff Everton, Sand Hills, Fort Niobrara, National Wildlife Refuge, Nebraska, 2009, Chromogenic print, Gift of Mandm, Inc.
John Fery (1859–1934) Cascade on the Firehole, 1912, Oil on canvas, Museum purchase
John Fery (1859–1934), Mount Saint Nicholas (Glacier), Oil on canvas, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Fish
John Fery (1859–1934), Blue Lake (Glacier), Oil on canvas, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Fish
Sheila Gardner, Shadow Race, 1999, Oil on linen Gift of Barry A. Berkus and the Berkus Family
John A. Gorham (1910–1985), Taboose, Acrylic on board, Gift of Elsie Hunt
Bruce S. McCurdy (1930–2003), Oceano Dunes, Color etching, Gift of Beverly McCurdy
Bruce S. McCurdy (1930–2003), Oceano Dunes, III, Color photograph, Gift of Beverly McCurdy
Diane G. Orr, Navaho Horse Panel, Color photograph, Museum purchase
Douglas E. Parshall (1899–1990)
River Crossing #2, Oil on board, Gift of Elsie Hunt
Ines E. Roberts, Winter Vista in the Rockies, Epson print, Gift of the artist
Ines E. Roberts, Snow Mounts and Little Tree, Epson print, Museum purchase
Ines E. Roberts, Frog Assembly, 2007, Giclee print, Museum purchase
Everett Ruess (1914–1934), Sentinels of the Wild, 1930–34, Linoleum block print, Gift of Marlene and Warren Miller
Everett Ruess (1914–1934), Sentinels of the Wild, 1985, Linoleum block print, Gift of the Arlington Gallery
Everett Ruess (1914–1934), Square Tower House, Mesa Verde, 1985, Linoleum block print, Gift of the Arlington Gallery
Everett Ruess (1914–1934), Radiation, 1985, Linoleum block print, Gift of the Arlington Gallery
Everett Ruess (1914–1934), Sea Spire, 1985, Linoleum block print, Gift of the Arlington Gallery
Everett Ruess (1914–1934), Tree Tops, 1985, Linoleum block print, Gift of the Arlington Gallery
Everett Ruess (1914–1934), Eucalyptus Grove, 1985, Linoleum block print, Gift of the Arlington Gallery
Everett Ruess (1914–1934), Granite and Cypress, 1985, Linoleum block print, Gift of the Arlington Gallery
Everett Ruess (1914–1934), Cypress Grove, Carmel, 1985, Linoleum block print, Gift of the Arlington Gallery
Everett Ruess (1914–1934), Monument Valley, 1985, Linoleum block print, Gift of the Arlington Gallery
Everett Ruess (1914–1934), Untitled, 1985, Linoleum block print, Gift of the Arlington Gallery
Everett Ruess (1914–1934), Battlements of the Colorado, 1985, Linoleum block print, Gift of the Arlington Gallery
Everett Ruess (1914–1934), Sea Cliffs of Marin, 1985, Linoleum block print, Gift of the Arlington Gallery
Ray Strong (1905–2006), Eleanor’s Plum Tree, 1973, Oil on panel, Gift of Eleanor Childers
David Wharton, Brown Bear Heads, 1988, Watercolor on paper, Gift of Barry A. Berkus and the Berkus Family
Dan Wood, Healthy Spirit, 2007, Epson print, Museum purchase