Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Hello, lovers of the Mattole and of all things beautiful and bright!

I have a Carl Sammons painting i would like to sell. I posted it a couple months ago on our local Google Board and got a handful of responses, but nobody followed through. Perhaps the price was daunting. Well, i bought it for $1800 four years ago, so i think $2000 is a fair asking price. [UPDATE: The painting has sold!]

This painting is mid-size for a Sammons: Canvas 15 ¼ x 11-3/8, with frame 18 ½ x 14-3/4. It is marked “Cake Town” on the back… but that must be some inside joke, as it is a picture of the Bear River near Capetown, way back when, when the hillsides were bare through regular burning.

laura'sCAKE TOWN, sm

I would like to sell the painting to someone who would really cherish it—not just to a stranger interested in an investment. Before going to craigslist or eBay, i thought i would try one more way to reach Mattole- (and Capetown)-loving people.

Here’s another view of it on my rosy/peachy wall:Laura'sCAKE TOWN,atLKW

I have posted about Carl Sammons several times on here; simply enter “Sammons” in the Search bar in the upper right corner of this page, and you can go directly to each title. In short, Sammons was a painter of the Mattole Valley and Humboldt County from the 1920s, when he married local Queenie Stewart, until his death in the late 1960s (here is an art gallery’s bio on him: http://www.redferngallery.com/artistbio.php?at=CarlSammons ).

One reason i have to sell it is that i couldn’t resist buying another beautiful painting, this time a watercolor by Alan Sanborn, this past month. (Darn that credit card, it makes art impossible to resist!) It was an Artists’ Open Studio weekend in Arcata, and we strolled into Alan’s home and looked at scores of striking landscapes and depictions of homes and gardens, mostly of Humboldt County but several from New England. Alan does a particularly good job with light–the effects of sunshine on a rainbow of flowers, on the gold of Humboldt grasses, and in the bright white of painted wooden porches. Living in Humboldt, of course i had seen many print examples of his work, but had never really checked out his work until that weekend. And look what i saw!


This is a big (17.5″ x 23.5″), deeply saturated watercolor. It’s behind a glass frame, which is why you see the reflections. From this vantage point, i just felt like i was there, at the foot of Cedar’s driveway, looking up at the familiar landmark. And despite the eminent paintability of St. Patrick’s Church, i really only know of three other versions: a line drawing that Tony Anderson made years ago, and had printed on a postcard; a card i saw here in town, can’t remember the artist, of a nighttime scene with the steeple next to a full moon; and of course the most famous one, by our old friend Carl Sammons:


This 1947 oil painting is the one that St. Patrick’s Catholic Church has made into a glossy blank greeting card, which they sell to raise funds for the church. Let me know if you are interested in those cards, and i will try to find out if they still have them for sale.

Speaking of local art–we’ve hit on two different media, so now let’s go to photography. Stephen Remington, about whom i’ve posted before (again, just type his name into the Search bar), now has an exhibit up in the main hall of the Arcata City Hall, corner of 7th and F Streets, just southeast of the Plaza. His photographs are great illustrations of why landscape photography is indeed an art, not just a representational tool for recording a moment in time. They are vibrant and rich without being overly jacked-up in the color department. That is, somehow they feel not real like being there, but almost more real. For instance, both the silver-gray color (not what we’d usually consider much of a color) and the perspective caused by the composition of the land, water, and sky lines, as well as the receding shapes of the clouds of birds, are hyper-real in these two scenes:


(Note: I’m sort of sorry about the bad quality of my pictures… but not too sorry, as i really hope you will go see the exhibit in person if you’re in town.)

Stephen has generously offered to give one of these gorgeous photographs to the Mattole Valley Historical Society, once the pictures come down from the City Hall at the end of July. He was thinking of making a contribution to the walls of our new museum in downtown Petrolia. I believe he is quite right–that artwork such as this, celebrating the natural beauty that helps make this place the perfect home (for some of us), will be just the right finishing touch–but when we do get hold of the picture, it will go on the wall of our new green office at the Grange.

I believe this is the one he is thinking of donating. Maybe most of us have taken photos from this spot, but the difference between Stephen’s shots (and printing expertise) and mine is radical.


I hope you don’t mind my using this Mattole history blog as my personal sales page. Since my taste in art is probably pretty much the taste of anyone who loves this place as i do, i thought i might keep you abreast of what’s cooking.

I can’t absolutely promise this, because who knows what financial hardship might compel me to sell a painting when necessary… but when i die, i think the new museum would be a good place for my Mattole and Humboldt artwork to go. Meantime, if i have to sell anything, you all– locals and lovers of local– will be the first to know.

So let me know if you want the Bear River (Cape Town) painting! (You can call my cell at 707-601-7300 and i’ll get back to you.)

Read Full Post »

Stephen Remington is a lover of the Mattole Valley. He has been visiting for almost four years, infatuated with the beauty from first sight.

Steve has been feeding a serious photography habit for over 40 years. He lives in Napa but travels whenever possible to the places that inspire him. He has organized a few books of his pictures, and the Mattole Valley Historical Society is lucky enough to have one of them.


The MVHS’s book of Stephen’s breathtaking Mattole photos.

Now, and only perhaps for the next week, his photographs are on display at the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, off the Hookton/Loleta exit of Highway 101. Stephen writes on an event description on Facebook, “Eleven of my favorite photographs of the Mattole River and coastline taken over the past three years. Both framed and metal prints are included and some are available for purchase. The exhibit will be up until sometime in March.”

The Humboldt Bay Wildlife Refuge, also known as the Richard J. Guadagno Visitor Center, is open daily from 8 ’til 5. For more information on the Center, go to this site. (It was named in honor of the  career biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Project Director at the Humboldt Bay Refuge, Richard Guadagno. His life was cut short at age 38 by the tragic downing of his plane, Flight 93, in the fields of Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.) The room off to the right of the main office, holding Steve’s photos, has a gorgeous view of the bay and convenient scopes trained on the marsh, free for the use of responsible persons. I found these viewing aids to offer a more intimate view of the waterfowl than strolling along the paths, as you can get close in without disturbing the birds.


A few of Stephen’s photos visible on the far wall. Note the stationary viewing scopes for marsh wildlife in the windows to the right.


A wonderful capture of the golden October morning light along the Mattole.


Another view taken near to the one above, in the mid-Mattole (Grange/A.Way) area.

I apologize for letting February slip away, and not posting this until very late in the run of the exhibit. If you happen to be passing by soon on your way to or from town, swing by the Refuge, and enjoy both the photography and the natural beauty of the Refuge with its interpretations in the Visitor Center. If you have kids with you, it would be an especially good stop. The Center is a sort of natural history museum with an eye to developing an appreciation of nature in young people.

Read Full Post »

As i was wandering the Humboldt State University online archive of historical Humboldt County photos, i ran across a few gems. (There are thousands of jewels there, of course, but as a Mattole history fan, these in particular set my heart a-flutter!) Many thanks to Joan Berman, who is responsible for the archive and who maintains the website. What a huge labor it must have been to organize all these images, and to keep the collection updated!

I am posting smaller files of the pictures here (though you can click on them to magnify); for full resolution and to enjoy the myriad treasures available there, view them on the HSU website.

A camp in the Mattole Valley, photograph by A. A. Burgess. Probably taken before 1900.

A camp in the Mattole Valley, photograph by A. A. Burgess. Probably taken before 1900.

Here’s how: go to this link: http://library.humboldt.edu/humco/holdings/photosearch.php and in the lower right box, “Photographer,” scroll down to “Austin Burgess” and you will get to the list of ten of his photographs in the Peter Palmquist collection. The wonderful, painterly photograph above is #2 on the list. The men on the left look familiar from our MVHS archives; could the one next to the horse be Charles A. Johnston?
The MVHS already has copies of most of these Burgess photos, and several are on this West of the Redwoods site already, but a few were new to me. This one below (#3 on the Burgess list), of women and children sitting on the beach, seems to be of a Native, or part-Native family. One of the women on the right looks like a Hadley family member. Note the daring individuals atop, and just below, a precariously-perched boulder in the background.
Women and Children Sit on Rocks at Beach, by A.A. Burgess.

Women and Children Sit on Rocks at Beach, by A.A. Burgess.

And this next one also offers great detail. The photo is #1 on the Burgess list on the HSU page. I don’t know who the men are, but think maybe the man just visible behind the horses, taking care of some strap or cargo, is also Native.

Men Gathered around Horse-pulled Wagon Stopped on Road next to Barn, by A.A. Burgess

Men Gathered around Horse-pulled Wagon Stopped on Road next to Barn, by A.A. Burgess.

Peter Palmquist collected these photos and labelled them based on either “official” titles attached somewhere along the way, or on clues he gathered from the pictures or descriptions written on the reverse. Some of the pictures have two titles: one credited to the collector [pp], the other i assume a description from the current archivist, Joan Berman. So, the titles are not always accurate. This school is supposed to be in the Mattole Valley, probably because so many of Burgess’s scenes were; but i am not sure it is. It may be at Capetown or up Bear River. Comparisons to photos of the old Mattole Union School, Union Mattole, Upper Mattole, or Honeydew School show this to be a much smaller building. (I definitely could be wrong about this; anyone with any conviction about which school this is, please comment.) I love the outlaw kids on the roof, though–classic “out in the hills” stuff!

Children and Teacher Gather at Schoolhouse in Mattole, by A.A. Burgess

Children and Teacher Gather at Schoolhouse in Mattole (?), by A.A. Burgess.

A little background information about Ammi Austin Burgess: he was Gypsy Evenden’s, and current MVHS friends Roger and William Brown’s, great-grandfather. He was born in 1842 in Maine, served in the Union Army from April 20, 1861 (enlisted in Waterville, ME)–April 20, 1864 (honorably discharged at Brandy Station, VA), was in Santa Cruz County by 1871, and in 1877 married Elizabeth A. (from New Hampshire, of unknown maiden name)–Lizzie Burgess. By 1879 the couple had their daughter, Maude Addie, and in 1882, son Wallace D. Burgess–Gypsy and the Brown boys’ (great)-uncle Wally. According to Gypsy, “Ammi” always detested his given name, thinking it sounded too feminine, and went by either his initials or his middle name. A.A. and Lizzie lived in the Petrolia area, with Mr. Burgess listing his occupation as “farmer”–but meantime he had mastered the art of studio and landscape photography, and likely took most of his photos in the last quarter of the 19th century.

I called Roger Brown the other day to tap his memories. He never knew A.A., who died in 1906 at a southern California Veterans’ Hospital; nor was Roger sure where exactly he’d lived in the Mattole Valley. However, A.A.’s two children later lived on the south side of the river across from the present Cockburn (former Molly Roberts West) place. Uncle Wally had the place right next to the river where newcomers (now gone) Sean and Becca recently established a small homestead. Maude Addie lived with her husband, Samuel F. (Frank) Adams, across the road and a bit east. The home was just up off the flat we used to call “the Reishus place” which was an opening with an old pile of bricks on it, and later Frankie Lawrence’s trailer, until recently cleared for use by Sterling McWhorter.

[A tiny bit of genealogy to fill you in on the rest of the connection: A.A. and Lizzie Burgess’s daughter Maude married Frank Adams, the son of Samuel S. Adams and Annie Brown, who was herself the daughter of famous abolitionist John Brown. So Maude and Frank were Roger’s (and William’s and Gypsy’s) grandparents. Their children included Louis Adams, father of Gypsy, and Alice Adams Brown, mother of the Brown brothers. Alice was born in the house above the old Reishus flat. And Wallace D. Burgess married Edna Williams of Ferndale in 1905. Wally was an engineer for the Northwestern Pacific railroad.]

A.A. Burgess’s photos not only function as valuable historical records of people and places, they are beautiful. There is one photo he took of three deer carcasses hanging in a row (doesn’t sound pretty, but it was– and i as a vegetarian assure you of that!). Gypsy gave us a print of the photo, and also once showed me a wonderful pencil rendering of the photograph, which she knew was done by Wallace D. Burgess. I always thought that Wally must have been the “Burgess” photographer too, but no, it turns out he was a sketch and painting artist. Roger said he “knew Uncle Wally real well. He had a little coupe, and i remember him sitting in the back of that car, with an easel, sketching.” Roger has a charcoal of the St. Paul aground near Punta Gorda, and another painting of the Petrolia area from the vantage point of the hill west of town, done by his great-uncle–perhaps while sitting in his car.

By the time Austin Burgess made it to the Veteran’s Hospital in early November, 1906, he was suffering from Pulmonary Tuberculosis, something else i couldn’t make out, Chronic Inflammation, and Deafness. He succumbed to his many ailments on the 20th of that month. Veteran’s benefits began coming to his widow Lizzie in Ferndale. She passed on to join her husband in December, 1916.

I am grateful to Ammi Austin Burgess for his loving and careful artist’s eye and his photographic skills, and to the late Peter Palmquist, the HSU library, and Joan Berman, for preserving the images and making them available to us.

But before you go away, i want to share one more picture. I am currently unable to download this image, but took a screenshot. This is an unusual photograph of Petrolia, taken before 1903 (when a fire destroyed many downtown buildings), from the hill to the east: just a bit north of the present Catholic Church, behind Cary’s house. I love a new picture of old Petrolia, especially one from this early a date!

View of the town of Petrolia in the valley of the surrounding hills, by William Wax.

View of the town of Petrolia in the valley of the surrounding hills, by William Wax.

Do you recognize any of the buildings? Not many remain. You’re looking over the square, toward the ocean. There’s a white frame house where the Franklins’ place is now. Mary Day’s house is in place. On the far right, there’s a little church which was the predecessor of today’s Seventh-Day Adventist Church building, on the same site. The large white building  on the left, with four windows in a row along its side, was the two-storey John A. Mackey store and ballroom.

The picture is from the Peter Palmquist collection, and can be seen in excellent detail here: http://library.humboldt.edu/humco/holdings/photodetail.php?S=&CS=All%20Collections&RS=ALL%20Regions&PS=Wax%20William&ST=ALL%20words&SW=&C=26&R=13

Photographer was William Wax, about whom i know nothing. Googling shows that a William Wax was active in the photography businesses of Columbia, CA (in the Sierra foothills) and the Chico/Redding areas. Perhaps he travelled with his photographic equipment, and luckily for us, passed through Petrolia one fine day.

Enjoy some winter hours enjoying the thousands of pictures available on that fantastic HSU site!

Read Full Post »

An Upper Mattole mill, by George Post, 1936. Courtesy of Carlin Christensen

Carlin Christensen emailed me this bright picture today. He says he is not sure of the location, but it’s somewhere between Roscoes’ and the Grange… perhaps it was the Willings Mill, at the Trout Farm (recently the Hoyles’)? Carl expressed hope that someone seeing this photo might recognize the place. (On second thought, the Willingses were there in the 1950s logging boom… though perhaps the place had held a lumber mill before they became the owners.)

George Post, 1906-1997, was a well-known California watercolorist. He was born and died in Oakland. Here is more information if you are interested: http://www.calart.com/Data/featured/George_Post.asp

Read Full Post »

Here are some more of Irene Wallace’s watercolor paintings. About a month ago, i posted a half-dozen; see that post for more information.

A familiar and beloved sight for lovers of the Mattole-- coming down to the Ocean House at Cape Mendocino on the way home.

And now we have gotten to Devil's Gate...

The beautiful colors of the estuary reflecting sunset.

Up on the Table, world-famous Bluegum Eucalyptus trees. Now the Petrolia Table Cemetery has been added just next to the row of Eucalyptus.

The slant of sunlight around tree trunks really does something for me.

Back to Cape Mendocino for a look at Sugarloaf Rock, as the white folks named it. The furthest west point in California.

Many thanks again to Irene Wallace for her kind permission in allowing us to post these images. And for bringing us on a beautiful virtual tour of the places we love!

Read Full Post »

Irene Wallace’s watercolors

This is one of my favorites for the variety of form. The photos are not titled, so i just call this one "Seagulls." Courtesy Irene Wallace.

A local resident since 1991, Irene Wallace has quietly enriched our community in many ways. She lives at the top of a ridge overlooking the beach at the mouth of the Mattole, and the view from that spot has strengthened her connection to the beauty of the ocean. I know Irene through the Mattole Valley Women’s Club, and Grange meetings which she attends with her husband, Joe. She wrote an excellent history of the exciting events of April, 1992, in her book Earthquake Chronicles of the Lost Coast (2009), in which she introduced herself as follows: “I was born and grew up in Burlingame on the peninsula south of San Francisco. I attended St. Luke’s Nursing School in San Francisco, married and raised five children. During that time I worked as a nurse part time in hospitals, in obstetrics. Pursuing my love of art, I have delved into drawing, ceramics, sculpture, leaded glass, wood carving, and finally settled into painting watercolors, which is a joy for me. I have called the Mattole Valley home since 1991, surrounded by the beauty of nature– a feast for the eyes.”

I think you will agree that these paintings are just such a feast, as well.

This image is a familiar one to lovers of the Mattole, as Irene has made greeting cards with it. The old store was built around the turn of the last century, and known for many years as the Hart and Johnson store, later as Louis Adams, DaSilva's, etc., until at the time of the earthquake it belonged to George and Delores Roscoe. It burned on April 25, 1992, in the first, and largest, of the triple-quake onslaught.

All of these pictures are courtesy of Irene Wallace. She gave the Mattole Valley Historical Society a disc with much of her artwork on it. I have chosen several of my own favorites to post here, but there are many more– not all landscapes, and not all necessarily of the Mattole. I will put up more another time.

View south from Seven-mile Beach.

Anyone living off a dirt road in the Valley knows this kind of enchanting morning scene.

This looks like the entry to the Little Windy ranch, formerly the Trout Farm,
near Upper Mattole

Irene has done many a fine still-life of beach treasures and other subjects.

Irene is an active artist. She does not advertise as a painter for commission, but if you had a scene you wanted remembered in this way, she just might be interested in doing something for you. I myself think her work is as worthy of history’s note as Sammons’. I want to protect her privacy, so if you would like to contact Irene, please let me know and i will pass on your comments or contact information to her.

I am very grateful to Irene for allowing me to share her paintings here.

Read Full Post »

Another Sammons painting

Best viewed small; it gets all digital-pixelly when you enlarge. Gary Peterson found this recent eBay offering online the other day. They are asking $3000 for it.

Somewhere on the Mattole, by Carl Sammons

The caption is not the title of the painting– the work is unnamed.

Anyone with any conviction as to where to find this view? Gary guessed downstream near the Drury Hole; maybe; keep in mind that the hills in the background, if golden, are probably north-side (south-facing). However, back when the Mattole Valley was regularly burned, even the ridges south of the river were much more open than they are now.

I thought perhaps, since the river doesn’t look too wide here, it might have been up in my neck of the woods, below Shenanigan Ridge, looking downstream from behind Sterling and Cindy’s (formerly Herkie Lawrence’s) barn. Hmmm…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »