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  • Ansel Adams | How the famed photographer got his start

    by Jonathan Spaulding, Guest curator for Ansel Adams exhibit | Feb 24, 2014


    Ansel Adams, photograph by Jim Alinder

    In the spring of 1916, the fourteen-year-old Ansel was in bed with a cold. To cheer his spirits during another of his many illnesses, his aunt gave him a copy of James M. Hutchings’s In the Heart of the Sierras, published in 1886 and one of the classic travel accounts of the region. The boy lay mesmerized by Hutchings’s romantic tales of adventure among the towering walls of the Yosemite Valley. The family had been discussing where to spend their upcoming summer vacation. In years past they had gone to Puget Sound or down the coast to Santa Cruz, but for Ansel there was now no option. They simply had to go to this incredible place called Yosemite.

    Soon after their arrival, Ansel’s parents gave him a Kodak No. I Box Brownie camera. After a brief lesson on its simple controls, he was off to explore the area. On foot, camera in hand, he traversed the valley with characteristic hyperkineticism. He took snapshots with no conscious artfulness, only a desire to record what caught his eye. At one point he clambered atop a rotting stump to shoot across the valley floor to the cliffs above. As he leaned back to take the picture, the stump gave way, sending him plummeting to earth. On the way down he managed to trip the shutter.

    The next day he took the film into the valley’s local camera shop, Pillsbury Pictures, Inc. When he came back to pick it up, Arthur Pillsbury himself presented him with the processed photos. Pillsbury inquired about one shot on the roll in particular. How had it happened to be made upside down? Had Adams held the camera inverse over his head for a better angle? Ansel explained his airborne photograph, adding that it was just a matter of luck that it had been shot at a perfect 180 degrees. Pillsbury gave the boy a skeptical look; here was an odd one indeed.

    Following his first Yosemite trip, Ansel Adams returned home to San Francisco and continued to use his camera. Because of his burning desire to learn more about photography, he went to work part-time as a “darkroom monkey” for neighbor Frank Dittman, who owned a photo-finishing operation.


    Ansel Adams in darkroom, photograph by Jim Alinder

    Ansel was well received by Dittman, the three printers, and the six delivery boys, although his odd ways provoked some ribbling. The skinny, hyperactive Ansel, with his crooked nose, his long words, and his stories about Yosemite, seemed an amusing character. They called him “Ansel Yosemite Adams.” He took it all well, Dittman remembered, and appeared to find the pranks played on him funny, too. He “picked up cussing real fast,” and Dittman thought the job was a good antidote to the music lessons he believed were just another example of the coddling the boy got at home. Dittman recognized that Ansel was in his element in the darkroom. “It came natural to him. I could see right off he was good. Whatever the kid done was done thorough.”

    Adams was fascinated by photographic equipment and begun to prowl the local camera shops to investigate the rows of lenses, tripods, lights, chemicals, printing papers, cameras and film. He read the amateur photographic magazines and whatever technical handbooks he could find. At a local camera club he met W.E. Dassonville, a manufacturer of fine printing papers and an accomplished photographer. Dassonville knew many of the Bay Area photographers and gave Adams an introduction to the practice of the medium as a fine art.

    - From the biography Ansel Adams and the American Landscape by Jonathan Spaulding’s biography contains an extensive bibliography of works by and about Ansel Adams. His detailed descriptions of Adams’ photographs, projects, and relationships offer compelling insights into the man who has come to represent the American West.

    Meet Jonathan Spaulding this Saturday at the Eiteljorg during opening weekend of the Ansel Adams exhibit.

    Saturday, Mar. 1, 2014
    1:30 p.m.
    A Conversation with curator Jonathan Spaulding
    Join Jonathan Spaulding for a behind-the-scenes discussion of Ansel Adams’ life and work - See more at: http://www.eiteljorg.org/interact/blog/eitelblog/2014/02/19/ansel-adams-influence-and-inspiration-in-over-80-photographs#sthash.b17D76QF.dpuf
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  • Throwback Thursday | 2001 Ansel Adams at the Eiteljorg

    by Jan Eason, Eiteljorg education services coordinator | Feb 20, 2014

     Eiteljorg education services coordinator Jan Eason was there in 2001 when the museum opened its first exhibition of the photographs of Ansel Adams. Jan snapped a picture of the line that formed outside the Eiteljorg. She couldn't believe the amount of people who'd flooded the front of the building to see the work of one of the most celebrated photographers of all time.
     



    “We need all staff to come to the museum entrance!” 

    Wow!!!! Just getting to the entrance was a challenge with all the visitors in the lobby.  Nothing like this had happened in my time with the museum.  I had to take pictures and so I did with my instamatic camera.  Ansel Adam’s work resonated with our visitors. The galleries were full with intent viewers and conversations on the work, techniques, and wondering if they could take home images.

    The response was truly overwhelming and everyone on the staff was proud.

    All our work and concern was validated.  The dedicated store was a hit. Staff worked the line outside -  welcoming and informing visitors about memberships  - and that they could enter immediately. The wait seemed shorter when they could ask questions and chat. This excitement continued during the run of the exhibit. When departing so many smiling visitors said ,”We’ll be back!”

    I had no inkling that this would be the first of many such successful future shows and events at the Eiteljorg. Ansel Adams returns to the Eiteljorg March 1.

    (Pictured above: Ansel Adams at Washburn Pt., photograph by Jim Alinder)

     - This blog post was written by 23-year Eiteljorg employee and Rose Award recipient Jan Eason.



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  • The Black Cowboy, Storytelling Saturdays and an Ansel Adams Preview

    by DeShong Perry-Smitherman, Eiteljorg public relations manager | Feb 04, 2014

    EITELJORG MUSEUM FEBRUARY EVENTS 
     
    Blake Little: Photographs from the Gay Rodeo

    New exhibit now open
    Blake Little  features 41 black-and-white images of cowboys and cowgirls from the gay rodeo circuit, taken by award-winning, Los Angeles-based photographer, Blake Little. The Seattle native became captivated by the gay rodeo scene in 1988 and began documenting the lives of its contenders, victors and their devoted fans.  Blake Little and associated public programs, at the Eiteljorg are a part of the museum’s Out West series. The series, created and produced by independent curator Gregory Hinton, illuminates the many contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities of the American West, and celebrates the diversity of the region. Please visit www.eiteljorg.org for details. Photo credit: Blake Little, Chute Dogging, Phoenix, Arizona, 1989, Image courtesy of Blake Little.

    The Girl of the Golden West
    Film Screening
    Saturday, Feb. 15
    1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
    In preparation for the Indianapolis Opera’s performance of David Belasco’s The Girl of the Golden West on March 21 and 23, the Eiteljorg will host a screening of the 1938 film starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.


     I, Nat Love: The Story of Deadwood Dick
    Storytelling
    Saturday, Feb. 22
    1:30 p.m.
    Storyteller Rochel Coleman will bring Nat Love’s story to life. Born a slave in Tennessee, Nat headed West in search of freedom and opportunity at age 15. He became one of the most famous Black cowboys of his time.


    Ansel Adams
    preview partywright_0985-2_adams2
    Exhibit preview
    Friday, February 28
    7:30 p.m.
    $45 members, $55 nonmembers

    Ansel Adams exhibit opens, Saturday, March 1.
    Ansel Adams is a collection of more than 80 of this legendary photographer’s personally-chosen photographs. The photographs focus largely on the vast spaces of the American West, ranging from Yosemite to the Pacific Coast, the Southwest, Alaska, Hawaii and the Northwest. Referred to as The Museum Set, this lifetime portfolio includes many of Adams’ most famous and best-loved photographs, including architectural studies, portraits and magnificent landscapes. Photo credit: Ansel Adams in Owens Valley, photograph by Cedric Wright, courtesy of the Colby Memorial Library, Sierra Club.

    Storytelling Saturdays throughout the month
     
    Stories of the West

    Saturdays                                 
    1, 2, 3 & 4 p.m.
    Hear the amazing true stories of two prominent African Americans in the West, Stagecoach Mary Fields and mountain man, Jim Beckwourth, as told by actress and storyteller, Joanna Winston.


    Storytelling

    Saturdays
    1p.m. – 3p.m.
    Meet Teresa Webb (Anishinaabe) and hear about Native American cultures through stories and songs, accompanied by flute, drum and rattle.


    Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2014, presented by Oxford Financial Group, LTD, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western art seeks to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the art, history and cultures of the American West and the indigenous peoples of North America. The museum is located in Downtown Indianapolis’ White River State Park, at 500 West Washington, Indianapolis, IN  46204. For general information about the museum and to learn more about exhibits and events, call 317.636.WEST (9378) or visit www.eiteljorg.org.


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  • Meet the Fellows | Meryl McMaster (Part IV of V)

    by Ashley Holland (Cherokee), Eiteljorg assistant curator of Contemporary Art | Oct 30, 2013

    Each week the Eiteljorg blog will profile artists who will be featured in RED: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. The exhibit opens Nov. 9. Details below!

    What follows is an excerpt from Meryl McMaster: Immeasurable, the Art of Being, by Ashley Holland 
    (from RED: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship exhibition catalog).

    Meryl McMaster
    (Plains Cree/Blackfoot)

    Photo credit: Ian Clark

    My artistic practice begins with photography evoking a journey that follows a path of self-discovery….My art unravels notions of identity and subjectivity as something that is never complete, but always in process and always formed from within. -
    Meryl McMaster

    Meryl McMaster’s work creates a paradigm of the artist as visual philosopher. Her pursuit of knowledge, connection to the natural world, and relentless dedication to profound beauty make her photographs sumptuous and complex. They are a world unto themselves. She invites the viewers to join her in this world, to take what they may, and to grow from their own conclusions.

    McMaster was born to a Euro-Canadian mother and Plains Cree/Blackfoot father in 1988. Her father, Gerald McMaster, is a well-known artist, author, and curator of Canadian aboriginal contemporary art. There is little question that this upbringing gave McMaster a great well of cultural and ancestral memory in which to immerse and emerge as herself. It is also of no small consequence that she, as an early career artist, exists in the era of important cultural and social movements such as Idle No More, in which Canada’s aboriginal people strive to reclaim their place and rights in their communities locally, provincially, and nationally. No doubt this influences her political and social views, of which her photographs act as a visual record.


    Meryl McMaster (Plains Cree/Blackfoot)
    Anima (In-Between Worlds series), 2012
    Digital chromogenic print
    Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship Acquisition Fund


    Meryl McMaster (Plains Cree/Blackfoot)
    Wingeds Calling (In-Between Worlds series), 2012
    Digital chromogenic print
    Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship Acquisition Fund


    Meryl McMaster (Plains Cree/Blackfoot)
    Aphoristic Currents (In-Between Worlds series), 2013
    Digital chromogenic print
    Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship Acquisition Fund

    McMaster conceptualizes her work and then proceeds to use the moment, the environment, and the circumstance of that particular sequence to document the culmination of her vision. She has a space in her home where elements and concepts are envisioned and created as the stepping-stones to the act of photographing. For McMaster, the camera becomes an object that is vulnerable and dependent on the environment around it.

    McMaster’s photographs continue to grow stronger as she adds layer upon layer of experience toward the spiritual maturity she seeks. Her constant exploration of identity and search for (self) realization translate beautifully into lush images with each subject she captures. Her photography series  In-Between Worlds , Ancestral , and Second Self demonstrate the potency of her artistic message. It is not surprising that one so interested in pursuit of the elevation of the human spirit and self-consciousness about her bi-cultural heritage would choose to work in the form of a photographic series, as if to better investigate a world, a view, through a multi-dimensional lens and a plethora of sculptural, cultural, and natural materials. 

    Meet Meryl McMaster, Friday, Nov. 8 at the Eiteljorg.

    Schedule for opening weekend of RED:Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship
    Friday
    NOV 8
    5:30–7:30 p.m.
    Celebration!
    $40 – includes Saturday’s activities
    To commemorate the opening of RED: the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, the museum will honor the five Native Fellowship winners with an intimate gathering that celebrates their artistic accomplishments.

    7:30 p.m.–12 a.m.
    Contemporary Arts Party
    $15 at the door, $10 in advance – includes Saturday’s activities
    Celebrate the opening of RED by partying all night to the sounds of A Tribe Called Red and DJ Kyle Long of the Cultural Cannibals. Additional entertainment will be provided by the comedy improve group the 1491s, Big Car, Know No Stranger, and more!
    Tickets are available for purchase at www.Eiteljorg.org

    Saturday

    NOV 9
    All Day
    RED: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship
    Be among the first to experience RED.
    Opening Day a
    ctivities include a gallery tour with the Fellows from 10 a.m.-12 p.m and from 1–3 p.m. a presentation by comedic cultural critics, the 1491s. Saturday's event is in collaboration with the 2013 Spirit & Place Festival. This festival reaches 20,000 people each year through dozens of “never before seen” programs that promote growth of the human spirit.

    ABOUT THE EITELJORG CONTEMPORARY ART FELLOWSHIP
    Meryl is one of five 2013 Fellows and her artwork will be featured in the exhibition RED: The Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, opening Nov. 9. This biennial program recognizes the accomplishments of one invited and four juried Fellows, which are chosen by a panel of independent experts. As part of the Fellowship, each artist receives a $25,000 unrestricted cash award and their work is exhibited and further explored in an accompanying catalog. In addition, the museum purchases a total of over $100,000 worth of art from the Fellows for the permanent collection, adding to a body of work that has given the Eiteljorg Museum a collection of Native contemporary art that has been referred to as the “greatest in the world.”

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  • Meet the Fellows | Lawrence Paul Yuxwelupton (Part III of V)

    by DeShong Perry-Smitherman, Eiteljorg public relations manager | Oct 23, 2013
    Each week the Eiteljorg blog will profile artists who will be featured in RED: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. The exhibit opens Nov. 9. Details below!

    What follows is an excerpt from Lawrence Paul Yuxwelupton: Master Mixer, Man of Many Colors, by Dana Claxton (Lakota) 
    (from RED: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship exhibition catalog). 

    Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun
    (Coast Salish/Okanagan)
     

    Photo credit: Alana Paterson 

    I work for art, not to be used by racism. I make art to get rid of racism. - Lawrence Paul Yuxwelupton

    Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun has been drawing and painting since he could hold an instrument in his hand. He once stated, "The paintbrush is like a weapon," and in his case, it is a weapon against the pen and the written word that colonialists used to dehumanize indigenous people and to steal Indian land. He has also stated, "I am a history painter." For over thirty years, he has been painting the "Indian" condition and all the complexities of being Indian, past, present, and future. He paints land…Indian land. The indigenous imperative to honor land has fueled most of his artistic output for the last three decades. And within the honoring of land, he weaves indigenous sovereignty and the de-subjugation and humanization of indigenous bodies right into the living land herself.

    Yuxweluptun has declared that "Canada is like a baby crawling around wearing a dirty diaper," suggesting that the nation is in an immature state of being and needs to come clean of its insidious past of legally oppressing Indians and the continued denial that there is anything wrong with the current state of aboriginal people. The bonds between Indian and non-Indian peoples are complex, filled with love, hate, desire, confusion, distrust, and fear. Canada and the United States have difficult histories that have shaped the difficult present. It is not always a pleasant picture, but Yuxweluptun vividly paints large-scale paintings and makes etchings, drawings, performance, installations, and sculptures that often depict these realities. His work addresses land use, land claims, and land spirits while always steadfastly stating that land is alive and needs to be respected and nurtured, cared for, loved. His work is shaped by indigenous imperatives of walking gently on the earth and not doing too much damage. His body of work has persuaded viewers to love Mother Earth and perhaps even love Indian people. He has often asked audiences, "Can you love Indian people?"


    Caution! You are Entering a Free State of Mind Zone, 2000. Acrylic on canvas.
    Private collection

    Yuxweluptun moves fluidly from large scale to intimate works, from color to black and white. Thirty-one works are included in this exhibition, ranging from large-scale acrylic on canvas to intimate drawings and prints.


    Floor Opener, 2013. Acrylic on canvas.
    Courtesy of Michael O’Brian

    The range of scale and hue and everything in between significantly represents his extensive oeuvre , moving with ease from one medium and scale to the other.
     

    Portrait of a Residential School Child, 2005. Acrylic on canvas.
    Private collection

    Whether abstract or his unique blend of Northwest Coast Salish surrealism, all the paintings maintain a color range that he invents. As a master mixer colorist, his palette refuses to remain the same after all these years of painting.

    Meet Lawrence Paul Yuxwelupton, Friday, Nov. 8 at the Eiteljorg.

    Schedule for opening weekend of RED:Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship
    Friday
    NOV 8
    5:30–7:30 p.m.
    Celebration!
    $40 – includes Saturday’s activities
    To commemorate the opening of RED: the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, the museum will honor the five Native Fellowship winners with an intimate gathering that celebrates their artistic accomplishments.

    7:30 p.m.–12 a.m.
    Contemporary Arts Party
    $15 at the door, $10 in advance – includes Saturday’s activities
    Celebrate the opening of RED by partying all night to the sounds of A Tribe Called Red and DJ Kyle Long of the Cultural Cannibals. Additional entertainment will be provided by the comedy improve group the 1491s, Big Car, Know No Stranger, and more!
    Tickets are available for purchase at www.Eiteljorg.org

    Saturday

    NOV 9
    All Day
    RED: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship
    Be among the first to experience RED.
    Opening Day a
    ctivities include a gallery tour with the Fellows from 10 a.m.-12 p.m and from 1–3 p.m. a presentation by comedic cultural critics, the 1491s. Saturday's event is in collaboration with the 2013 Spirit & Place Festival. This festival reaches 20,000 people each year through dozens of “never before seen” programs that promote growth of the human spirit.

    ABOUT THE EITELJORG CONTEMPORARY ART FELLOWSHIP
    Lawrence Paul is one of five 2013 Fellows and his artwork will be featured in the exhibition RED: The Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, opening Nov. 9. This biennial program recognizes the accomplishments of one invited and four juried Fellows, which are chosen by a panel of independent experts. As part of the Fellowship, each artist receives a $25,000 unrestricted cash award and their work is exhibited and further explored in an accompanying catalog. In addition, the museum purchases a total of over $100,000 worth of art from the Fellows for the permanent collection, adding to a body of work that has given the Eiteljorg Museum a collection of Native contemporary art that has been referred to as the “greatest in the world.”

    Go comment!
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