Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • The Discovery of Gold in California

    by James Nottage, Eiteljorg chief curatorial officer | Mar 22, 2015
    My eye was caught by something shining in the bottom of the ditch. . . . I reached my hand down and picked it up; it made my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold. The piece was about half the size and shape of a pea. Then I saw another.

     —John W. Marshall on the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, January 24, 1848

    The first discovery of gold in Mexican California, which took place near Los Angeles in 1842, was a minor finding that attracted little attention. At that time the attitude of “Manifest Destiny,” which promoted the idea that the young nation must expand from the Atlantic to the Pacific, was embraced by many Americans. This belief became the justification for a controversial war with Mexico beginning in 1846. Texas was annexed that year, battles were waged through the fall of 1847, and on February 2, 1848, the United States took control of much of the Southwest, including California. At almost exactly the same time, gold was discovered in Northern California.

    James Marshall was building a sawmill to cut lumber for construction on John Sutter’s buildings in the Sacramento valley. Sutter had a land grant from the Mexican government, and he employed many local Natives and veterans of the Mormon Battalion as laborers on the site. About January 24, 1848, bits of gold were first found in the millrace. At first the discovery was a distraction from other work. Soon it dominated hurried conversations and reports in area newspapers. By March, the rush was on.
    John Sutter portrait
    General John A. Sutter, 1851
    Stephen William Shaw
    Oil on canvas
    Image courtesy of the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; BANC PIC 19xx.017—FR

     Gillespie drawings

     The Discoverer of California Gold, [John Marshall] Coloma, Dec 20th 1851
    Sutter’s Mill, Coloma, Dec. 1849
    Charles Gillespie
    Pencil on paper
    Loan courtesy of Richard M. Rogers

    Gold Mining in California, 1871
    Currier & Ives
    Hand-colored lithograph
    Loan courtesy of Greg and Petra Martin

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  • New Art 2.0 | Dyani White Hawk

    by Jennifer Complo McNutt, curator of contemporary art and Ashley Holland, assistant curator of contemporary art | Feb 02, 2015

    New Art 2.0 is an exhibition of prints, many created by Eiteljorg Fellows and contemporary Native and non Native artists. It is a blend of “op art,” landscape, political and environmental statements as well as portraiture. Approximately 90 limited edition prints will be on exhibit and available for sale with prices ranging between about $500 - $4000.  New Art 2.0 closes this Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015.

    Litho Moc
    Litho Moc, 2014
    Lithograph, edition 5/9
    28 x 22 ½ inches
    Dyani White Hawk Understanding II_full image
    Understanding II, 2013
    Lithograph, edition 6/15
    22 ¾ x 17 ¼ inches

    As a woman of Lakota and European ancestry, my life experiences have been a continual negotiation of both Western and Indigenous educations, value systems, and worldviews. Through the amalgamation of symbols and motifs derivative of both Lakota and Western abstraction, my artwork examines, dissects, and patches back together pieces of each in a means to provide an honest representation of self and culture.

    Dyani White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota, born 1976) was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and resides in St. Paul, Minnesota. She received a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Institute of American Indian Arts and a master of fine arts degree in painting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. White Hawk’s work often combines Lakota quillwork design with strong lines that echo blanket and moccasin patterns. Her care in using her abstractions to bring American Indian tradition into a dynamic contemporary context reveals a powerful intellect and remarkable originality.

    new art sponsors

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  • New Art 2.0 | Marie Watt

    by by Jennifer Complo McNutt, curator of contemporary art and Ashley Holland, assistant curator of contemporary art | Feb 02, 2015

    New Art 2.0 is an exhibition of prints, many created by Eiteljorg Fellows and contemporary Native and non Native artists. It is a blend of “op art,” landscape, political and environmental statements as well as portraiture. Approximately 90 limited edition prints will be on exhibit and available for sale with prices ranging between about $500 - $4000.  New Art 2.0 closes this Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015.

    Marie Watt, Camp
    Camp, 2011
    Woodcut, edition 15/20
    20 ¾ x 16 inches

    Born to a Wyoming rancher and Seneca mother, Marie Watt (Seneca)has described herself as half cowboy, half Indian. Deeply studied in art, Watt says she "consciously draw[s] from indigenous design principles, oral traditions, and personal experience to shape the inner logic of the work I make." Much of her work, including that created at Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, captures the texture and stories inherent in everyday objects. Watt was awarded an Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art in 2005. 
    Lodge, Marie Watt
    Lodge, 2005
    Woodcut, edition 20/20
    16 ½ x 14 inches 
    Plow, Marie Watt
    Plow, 2011
    Woodcut, edition 15/20
    20 ¾ x 16 inches
    Tether, Marie Watt
    Tether, 2011
    Woodcut, edition 15/20
    20 ¾ x 16 inches

    New art sponsors

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  • All that Glitters | New exhibit tells true stories behind America's Gold Rushes

    by DeShong Perry-Smitherman, Eiteljorg public relations manager | Feb 02, 2015
    Eiteljorg gold hair comb cup ring nuggets
    Gold hair comb, cup, ring, and nuggets

    Loan: Courtesy of Greg and Petra Martin
    Photography by Hadley Fruits

    What could tempt a doctor and his wife to leave their children and risk their lives? Persuade financiers to gamble on risky exploits?  Redraw the face of the American landscape? The insatiable pursuit for unimaginable wealth… the lure of quick money… gold. On Mar. 7, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art will open Gold! Riches and Ruin, a new exhibit that explores a valuable mineral – and all the glitter and greed attached to the desire to get it. 

    “Our guests will see gold in all its forms – gold bars, gold jewelry and gold nuggets,” says John Vanausdall, Eiteljorg president and CEO. “But they will also witness some of the most compelling stories ever told related to the hunt for gold.”

    Gold! Riches and Ruin will demonstrate how the hunt for gold in the West changed the demography of an entire region, and had a profound impact on Native American populations. Gold rushes lured men and women from all walks of life, from all around the world, to places like California, the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Canadian Yukon and Alaska in pursuit of wealth and adventure. 
    Eiteljorg gold spanish flat
    Spanish Flat, ca. 1852
    Photographer: Joseph B. Starkweather
    Image courtesy of the California State Library, California History Room

    Johanna gold curator
    According to Johanna Blume (pictured left), exhibit curator, visitors to the museum will get to “meet” a host of  fortune seekers. Blume says stories in the exhibit illustrate the “perseverance and adventure” involved in striking it rich, but also the “ravenousness, violence, sacrifice and failure.”

    “The show celebrates the stories of those who struck it rich, but recognizes the unlucky ones who lost everything in their quest for riches.”

    Captivating accounts from gold rush experiences, spanning the 1840s to the 1910s, told through art and artifacts will come alive through comprehensive programs, interactive media and hands-on S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering and Math) activities. The exhibit will also explore the broader appeal of gold up to the present day. Guests will see and experience:

    - Gold nuggets, coins, bars, jewelry and more
    - Gold mining equipment and tools
    - Paintings, journals and diaries, clothing and personal effects that belonged to prospective gold miners
    - Bars of gold salvaged from the shipwreck of the SS Central America, a steamship that sank off the Carolina coast in 1857 loaded with thousands of pounds of gold from the California gold fields
    - Science-focused activities which will lead students to think about how gold is sought, the technology used to extract it and the impact mining has on the environment.
    - An outdoor gold panning experience which will allow visitors to pan for “gold” and then use that gold to “purchase” an item in the Frank and Katrina Basile Museum Store.

    Gold! Riches and Ruin will be celebrated with an opening night party and exhibit preview, at 6 p.m., Friday, Mar. 6. Tickets range from $40 - $55. At the event guests will actually be able to search the museum for “gold.” The guest who finds the most will win gold jewelry! Gold! closes Aug. 9.
    Presenting sponsors of Gold! are Wells Fargo and Eli Lilly and Company Foundation with sponsorship support from Capital Group Companies and Barnes & Thornburg LLP.

     Gold sponsors

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  • Welcome Kenaja Reaves | Our IPS Intern

    by Kenaja Reaves, Eiteljorg communications and marketing intern | Jan 30, 2015

    Kenaja in new art - Eva Lake print
    I love the way the colors come together in this Eva Lake print called Sky Over Casino. This is my favorite piece in the museum.
    Sky Over Casino,
    Lithograph, edition 4/14
    30x30 inches

    My first week at the Eiteljorg as a high school intern in the communications and  marketing department was amazing! My first day was fun and very welcoming.  I was excited when I found out I was getting my own little office space. When I first walked inside the cubicle there was a big sign that read “Welcome Kenaja Reaves!” 

    Kenaja with rabbit fur
    Examining rabbit fur.
    Kenaja with sunglasses

    I also got to meet all the employees and got a chance to hear what they do. The best part of my meet and greet time was getting the chance to meet the President and CEO of the Eiteljorg, Mr. John Vanausdall. Later the marketing team treated me to a better-than-delicious “Quesadilla of the Day” at the Museum Café. Seriously, that lunch made may tastebuds say, “Ooooh!”

    During my first week I began entering over 11,000 zip codes into an Excel spreadsheet. My work will help show the Eiteljorg where a lot of the museum visitors come from. I'm also learning about blogging, what PR and marketing people do and how a museum uses social media platforms to tell its story.

    Kenaja in JR
    A few days before Jingle Rails closed I got to take a picture with a local celebrity. Tracy Forner, from “Indy Style” stopped by to tour the exhibit.  

    I also got the chance to explore the museum. My first stop was Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure of course! This was the best part. The Jingle Rails display was beautiful and gave me a lot to look at. In fact, everything in Jingle Rails was made out of natural materials like sticks, leaves and dried fruit - which made it even more fascinating. I also enjoyed watching others look at this imaginative display as well. I look forward to working with everyone here at the Eiteljorg so that I can have the greatest experience possible.  

    Can't wait to see the Gold! exhibit when it opens!

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