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Cultures converging in Indy

February 1, 2011

This photo, “A Makah Maiden” will be on display at the Eastern California Museum with 29 other famous shots of Native Americans in North America by E.S. Curtis. Photo by E.S. Curtis/Courtesy Eastern California Museum

Inyo County has another piece of history to add to its collection at the Eastern California Museum thanks to a donation from the Moore Family Trust.
According to Inyo County Museum Services Director Jon Klusmire, the Moore Family Trust donated a set of 30 “non-vintage posthumous edition photogravure prints struck from original copper photogravure plates made by Edward S. Curtis.”
Curtis (1868-1952) set out to create a visual document of American Indians, beginning in 1906. In that same year, Andrew A Forbes began his documentation of the florescence of the settlement and industry of the Owens Valley.
The Eastern California Museum will combine the two collections in a new exhibit documenting the life and culture of North American Indians.
According to Klusmire, “Forbes’ photography was commercial in nature, he operated a photographic studio, as did Curtis, but was photographing the agricultural industry, mining and the Owens Valley Paiute Indians.”
Curtis spent time in the Owens Valley, photographing “living structures” and other subject matter to be included in Volume 15 of his 20-volume series entitled, “The North American Indian.”
Curtis was in the Owens Valley in 1924, eight years after Forbes had moved to Southern California.
Back in December, Wynnsan Moore, who represents the Moore Family Trust, provided the Eastern California Museum with an appraisal of the Curtis prints, conducted by Terry Etherton of Etherton Gallery in Tuscon, Ariz., valuing the prints at $13,200. Etherton is a former member of the Board of the Fellows of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers and is an accredited member of the American Society of Appraisers.
The photos donated to the museum are reproductions that were struck from the original plates in 1978 and printed on Fabriano hand-made paper.
Each print can be authenticated through “E.S. Curtis” and “Classic Gravure” watermarks on them.
The exhibit featuring the Forbes and Curtis photographs is scheduled to go on display at the Eastern California Museum March 19.
Special guest curator Richard Stewart, a member of the Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley and local potter and artist, will handle the exhibit.
Stewart has worked with the Eastern California Museum before, helping with the Shi Nomura collection, and is no stranger to Forbes’ photography. He was also involved with research and development for an exhibit featuring work by Toyo Miyatake for the Manzanar National Historic Site.
Stewart also worked as a consultant for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for an exhibit of Owens Valley Paiute and Shoshone basketry and as a consultant to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles for an exhibit of Forbes’ photography.

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