Sunday, August 31, 2008
205 years ago, on this day in 1803, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, formally known as the "Corps Of Discovery" began in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Thomas Jefferson sent this band of 33 to explore and map the American West. As there had only been one other expedition across the continent (it had veered North and didn't extend to the Pacific Ocean), Jefferson wasn't sure what he had bought with the Louisiana Purchase. (And France wasn't sure what they had sold.) The explorers were further charged with collecting samples of flora and fauna.
They spent their first winter in North Dakota at Fort Mardan. It was there that the group enlisted the talents of a French-Canadian trapper and his then pregnant Shoshone wife, Sacagawea. The trapper, Toussaint Charbonneau, was their interpreter, and they agreed to include Sacagawea to bargain for horses with Indian tribes along the way. It was hoped that native tribes would recognize the expedition as peaceful with the presence of a mother and child.
Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, born at Fort Mardan, North Dakota in February, 1805, travelled as a baby with the expedition all the way across the country to the Pacific Ocean in Oregon and back to North Dakota, either on his mother Sacagawea's back or in a boat. Years later, Clark brought the family to St. Louis, where he paid for young Jean Baptiste to be educated. At 18, he travelled in Europe for 6 years and mastered German, French and Spanish. Upon his return, Jean Baptiste spent 40 years as a mountain man, guide, Army scout, explorer and interpreter. He led the Mormon Batallion to San Diego in 1846 and was appointed alcalde of Mission San Luis Rey. He mined for gold with the 49ers and was enroute to new gold fields in Montana when he was felled by pneumonia in Oregon at age 61.
The painting above is by Charles Russell, painted in 1905. It shows Lewis and Clark on the lower Columbia River, just miles from the Pacific Ocean. It is an opaque and transparent watercolor with a graphite underdrawing on paper. If you look closely, you can see baby Jean Baptiste in the first boat, carried on his mother's back. He is the only child depicted on a U.S. coin, shown with his mother, Sacagawea, on the dollar coin.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Another travel poster, sponsored by a Federal Art Project, under the auspices of the Department of the Interior, as part of FDR's New Deal Works Progress Administration to put people to work. This was made by artist Frank S. Nicholson, circa 1940, and shows Fort San Felipe del Morro, better known as El Morro, in Puerto Rico.
Built in 1539 and expanded in 1589, the Spanish were intent on protecting their harbor at San Juan from sea faring enemies. In 1595 they successfully repelled an attack by the famous explorer Sir Francis Drake, when El Morro gunners fired a cannonball right through the cabin of his flagship.
The old fort is one of Pueto Rico's most popular tourists sights.
Friday, August 29, 2008
The pipestem clematis is another one of those plants that thrives in the wild but is almost impossible to grow in a home garden. This native California vine thrives along the Pacific Coast from the San Francisco Bay to northern Baja, and inland to the Sierra Nevada foothills. With showy, creamy white flowers blooming profusely from January to June, it will grow near streams or in open, dry areas.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Here's a fabulous old American chromolithographed art nouveau poster advertising the Cincinnati Fall Festival in 1903. Instead of pumpkins, corn or scarecrows, we've got a beautiful woman placing a crown of leaves on her head, with children symbolizing music and art at her sides. Printed by Strobridge and Co. Litho, the artist is unknown.
Although art nouveau thrived throughout Europe, its reach was worldwide, especially in the popular form of posters, advertisements and magazines.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
The two friends posing for this picture, taken on May 31, 1862 are Lt. James B. Washington, of the Confederate Army and (then) Capt. George A. Custer of the United States 5th Cavalry. The two had been friends and classmates at West Point, both Class of 1861. They were serving on opposite sides of the conflict as part of the Peninsular Campaign near Fair Oaks, Viriginia. Lt. Washington, an aide to a Confederate general, was sent as a courier and inadvertently stumbled upon Federal troops who captured him and took him prisoner. When taken to camp, he asked for Custer, who was given permission by General McClellan to treat Lt. Washington as his guest until a prisoner exchange could be negotiated. A camp photographer, James F. Gibson, captured the photo of the two friends sitting together on an upended crate.
Later in the War, after Custer had been promoted to General and was with Sherman in the Shenandoah Valley, he passed by the Washington estate, where the lieutenant's mother still lived. She had taken a vow never to speak to a Yankee, but made an exception when Custer rode through, given he had treated her son with such dignity. She gave a gift to Custer - silver buttons from a coat made for and worn by George Washington. Custer later had one of the buttons made into a piece of jewelry for his bride.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
This is another WPA poster in the "See America" series, made for the United States Travel Bureau and features caverns as expressed by artist Alexander Dix. Made between 1936-1938, the poster was part of a New York City WPA Federal Art Project.
Monday, August 25, 2008
When the original developers of the Hotel del Coronado were unable to repay their loan, the resort was taken over by John D. Spreckels. Around 1900, he expanded the resort to the south, with the introduction of the beachside Tent City. Canvas tents with wooden floors, furnished with beds, dressers, chairs and washstands, were rented by the week for $4.50. A cooking tent could be added for $5.00 a month, outfitted with pots, pans, dishware and flatware. Generators from the Hotel Del supplied the electricity for the bulbs that hung inside every tent. The Tent City News kept the visitors apprised of water sports, church services, news of each other, scheduled band concerts and other activities geared to guests. By 1921, Tenty City was so popular it had its own firemen and police. By 1923, the thatched roofs were given permanent replacements and the canvas tent sides were replaced with wood three quarters of the way up, with canvas awnings that could be rolled up or down. With these improvements and Coronado's temperate weather, Tent City became a year round destination for travellers from all over the world, until it was ultimately dismantled in 1939.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
The scene on this old Russian lacquered box provokes speculation. A cursory glance never reveals the small details. There are ravens nesting in the trees, a church steeple, a wisp of smoke rising from a chimney, snow as far as the eye can see. It must have been painted before the imposition of the Soviet State, as they no longer tolerated churches in their midst. The paint has a pearlish quality not often seen today. One wonders who the artist was and if the box was painted of his village as a gift for a loved one.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
When the California State Floral Society went about selecting a state flower in 1890, the California poppy won in a landslide. It took another 13 years for the state legislature to make it official ~ in 1903 the poppy became the golden flower for the Golden State.
California poppies grow from sea level to about 6.500 feet and bloom from February until September. A single flower grows on a long stem, rising from grayish green folage. The plant prefers poor, sandy soil, is drought tolerant and self sows profusely. It will often reestablish itself after wildfires. Native Americans used the plant medicinally and the seeds for cooking. The pollen had cosmetic uses, as well.
The plein air painting below is circa 1911, painted by American Impressionist Granville Seymour Redmond.
Friday, August 22, 2008
What were you doing 86 years ago today? Chances are, you either weren't alive, or if you were, you may not remember... If you were Charles Trevey, you were getting your picture taken while you were on the job. On the job. baking jumbo loaves of bread for the bears at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in 1922.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
This Art Deco WPA poster was made for the United States Travel Bureau, under the auspices of the Washington D.C. Department of the Interior for the purpose of encouraging people to visit the National Parks. It was made between 1936-1940 as part of the New York City Arts Project and the artist was Harry Herzog.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Our town is unusual in that it is bordered on three sides by water. The Pacific Ocean is on the west side and there are fresh water lagoons to the north and south. To the south, what used to be referred to as Cardiff Slough has been cleaned up and is known as San Elijo Lagoon. That, and Batiquitos Lagoon on the north side, are favorite stopping off points for birds on the Pacific migratory flyway. Birds stop off to feed, nest and rest and some like it enough to stay all year.
One of our year round residents is the black-necked stilt. They're found all along the California coast, inland to Arizona, along the Gulf of Mexico to Florida and all the way down to the Galapagos Islands, Peru and Brazil. They generally nest in colonies and take turns guarding the perimeter. They lay 3-5 eggs at a time, which usually hatch from April to August. Once the chicks have hatched, they take to swimming within hours and leave the nest pemanently after 2 days. With their long pink legs and thin black bills, they're able to walk the shallows in search of food.
The above photograph was shot this summer by Southern California wildlife photographer Chris Mayne. Thanks for sharing,Chris!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Located between two hills in Rome, the Forum was the heart of the city, the center of its economic life, the gathering place of its citizens and where ancient Roman civilzation was formed.
The illustration above is from a lithographed travel poster created in 1920 by artist George Dorival and printed in Cannes by Affiches Photographiques Robaudy. The artist captures the Roman Forum at dawn as the light sweeps across the city.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Mariposa lilies are a native California bulb, growing in dry grassland and semi-deserts, blooming in spring and summer. They're one of about 70 species and grow from British Columbia to Guatemala and east to Nebraska.
They were often eaten by Native Americans and sustained the early Mormon settlers in Utah when their first and second winter crops failed in the Great Salt Lake area.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
When visitor Franklin Schenck from Brooklyn, New York dropped his fishing line off California's Catalina Island on August 17, 1900, the last thing he expected was to land the world's record largest black sea bass ever caught with a rod and reel. He hooked up the behemoth and wrestled for 20 minutes before landing it, undoubtedly with an assist from the man on the right holding the gaff. The sea bass weighed in at 384 pounds, breaking the previous record that had been set the year before on Sept. 16, 1899, when a 370 pounder was caught with a rod and reel, which had taken 2 hours to reel in.
Mr. Schenck and his landmark fish were written up in many regional papers, and merited coverage in the New York Times, as well.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Created by artists working for FDR's New Deal era WPA, this poster was commissioned by the Department of the Interior for the National Park Service in 1938, artist unknown.
The Grand Canyon in northern Arizona was carved over 17 million years by the waters of the mighty Colorado River. 277 miles long, 4-18 miles wide and a mile deep, it was home to Native American tribes for thousands of years. The first European to see it was Garcia Lopez de Cardenas in 1540. In 1869, Major John Wesley Powell, a Civil War veteran, was the first person to make a recorded journey down the Colorado through the Canyon. Theodore Roosevelt was active in getting it designated a National Park.
The photograph below was made in May 2008 by Doug Dolde, who was kind enough to share.
Friday, August 15, 2008
When the Star of India was first built in 1863 on the Isle on Man, it was configured as a windjammer, full-rigged with three masts with squaresails on all three. This mighty iron ship was first christened "Euterpe", named for the Greek goddess of music. Her maiden voyage was a disaster - a collision with an unlighted Spanish brigantine off the coast of Wales was followed by a mutiny by the crew, seventeen of whom were eventually jailed at hard labor. The Euterpe sailed a route from England to India and then in 1871 began 25 years of service to New Zealand, hauling freight and emigrating passengers.
In 1901 the ship was rerigged as a barque and sailed between Alaska and California, hauling salmon. Rechristened "The Star of India" in 1906, it sailed until 1923, when steam became king. Purchased by the San Diego Zoological Society in 1926, with the intention of creating a maritime musem, those plans were put on hold throughout the Great Depression and World War II. Restoration began in 1957 and the grand old iron ship is moored today at the Embarcadero in San Diego, the world's oldest working ship of its kind.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Before Art Nouveau was commonly referred to by that name, it was called "Le Modern Style" in France, "Jugenstil" in Germany, "Nieuwe Kiunst" in Holland, "Arte Jove" in Spain and "Arte Nuova" in Italy. When a landmark gallery was opened in Paris in 1895 by Siegfried Bing, called "Maison de l'Art Nouveau", that became the name that was used universally.
Siegfried Bing was a German art dealer in Paris who was instrumental in the introduction of Japonisme to the West. His goal was to make art a part of every day life. His store had leaded windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany and a staff of in house designers who were on the forward edge of the Art Nouveau movement. He sold fabrics by Wiliam Morris, glass by Tiffany and was the primary European dealer of Rookwood and Grueby pottery. His pavillion at the 1900 Paris World's Fair was lavish and remarkable and he serviced both private collections and museums. The prominence and influence of Siegfriend Bing moved the world of Art Nouveau. He closed his store in 1904, one year prior to his death.
Neither of these illustrations have anything in particlar to do with Siegfried Bing, but were chosen for their colors, design and how they helped move a beautiful style of art into the mainstream, via advertisement. The lithograph poster above is circa 1890-1900, an advertisement for light bulbs featuring a nymph with gossamer wings, created by French artist Jean de Paleologue. It strikes similar themes to the ad below for Stella Fuel, printed in 1897 in Paris by Courmont Freres, Imp., showing nymphs and cherubs with butterfly wings, floating in space. The artist is unknown.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
There may be only 100 species of roses, but there are thousands of varieties of this most popular flower. These perennial flowering shrubs can be erect, trailing or climbing and their beauty and fragrance are loved by gardeners and non-gardeners around the world. Ancient Greeks and Romans identified them with their Goddesses of Love, Aphrodite and Venus and the symbolism has carried across the centuries to the present. Florists sell more roses than any other flower and they have been irresistible to artists, as well. Some of the most famous painters of roses were Pierre-Joseph Redoute and Impressionists Paul Cezanne and Claude Monet.
Both England and the United States claim roses as their national flower and four states, Iowa, New York, North Dakota, and Georgia chose the rose as their state flower. Portland, Oregon calls itself the "City of Roses". But there is only one Tyler, Texas, the "Rose Capitol Of America". Tyler and Smith County are responsible for 20% of all roses, and more than half of all roses are shipped from that area. Tyler has the world's largest municipal rose garden and an annual event that draws 100,000 people to town.
This versatile plant produces edible fruit, called rose hips and attar of roses, which is steam extracted from the flowers and has been used in perfumes for centuries. Rose water can be used in cooking and rose hips can be made into jelly or jam and dried for boiling for tea.
The beautiful photograph was made in Balboa Park by Jon Sullivan of pdphoto.org.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Called Miner's Lettuce or Indian Lettuce, this trailing, fleshy annual was eaten by the California gold rush miners to ward off scurvy. High in vitamin C, it is eaten as a leafy vegetable in salads, or steamed and eaten like spinach, which its taste resembles. Native to our coastal ranges and western mountains, it grows from Alaska to Central America and was introduced to western Europe in 1749, where it has naturalized.
If you grow vegetables, you may want to consider this low growing winter annual. The seeds are best sown in September, when the days are getting shorter but still warm. Once establshed, the plant will self sow, possibly more than you'd like. If so, the shoots can be thinned easily.
Monday, August 11, 2008
This is another poster created by the Works Progress Administration for the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service in 1938, artist unknown. The WPA, created by President Franklin Roosevelt, was the largest program established during the Great Depression and operated from 1935-1943. It was made unnecessary by production demands of World War II.
This poster depicts the famous Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park. One of the most popular and well known features of the park, it erupts almost every 91 minutes and shoots 3.700 to 8,400 gallons of boiling hot water an average of 145 feet into the air. Another park landmark is Yellowstone Lake, one of the highest high altitude lakes in North America, centered on the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest super volcano on the continent.
The park was established in 1872. It is mostly in Wyoming, but extends into Idaho and Montana, as well. It had been overlooked by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the early 1800s and except for a few mountain men, it went unexplored by white settlers until the mid to late nineteenth century.
The park has geysers, lakes, canyons, rivers, waterfalls and mountain ranges and free roaming bison, wolves, elk, and grizzlies. The park is a treasure trove of natural flora and fauna.
The painting below was made by Wuilliam Henry Jackson of the Hayden Expedition in 1871, and shows them as they explored the edge of Yellowstone Lake.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Built in 1927 in a Spanish Colonial style designed by architect Edward Braun, the La Paloma Theater in Encinitas was one of the first theaters in the country to show "talking" motion pictures. It stands on a corner of the Pacific Coast Highway (First and D Streets) and has been a local landmark since it opened in 1928. Local kids spent Saturday afternoons glued to the screen watching matinee double features with stars like Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi. With a soaring ceiling and outstanding acoustics, it is still a popular venue for motion pictures, poets and musicians.
The large building to the south, attached to the La Paloma, has been home to a variety of businesses over the years, most memorably the iconic Surfboards Hawaii factory in the 1960s. In the 1950s it was a Bank of America and more recently has been home to a series of short-lived bars and nightclubs.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
You can already tell that summer is winding down around here. Labor Day comes early this year and all the stores are having Back To School sales, so despite what the calendar says, the summer tourist season is coming to a close. And for locals, it's not a moment too soon.
Most mornings have been overcast this summer, with the sun coming out around noon, if at all. Yesterday was an exception. Down on the beach, the sun lit up the neon green moss on the side of a reef. What a great color! The second picture shows the top of the reef. Pretty nondescript with some mini tide pools sculpted over the ages. It doesn't look like much from above, but the sides are just bursting with color. The third picture shows a close-up of the moss forming waves at the top.
Friday, August 8, 2008
The Coastal Red Indian Paint Brush isn't as widely seen locally as it once was, as the open, sweeping sand dunes at the tops of the seaside bluffs have been almost totally developed. It can still be found in the wild in the Torrey Pines Natural Preserve, if the winter has been wet enough.
The flowers are edible and sweet and were mixed with other greens and eaten by Native American tribes. The Indian Paint Brush grows from Alaska to the Andes and in northest Asia. True to its name, it was used over time by various civilizations as a paint brush.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
With San Diego being the first port of call for ships headed north, a great fair came to San Diego to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal. Prior to the Panama-California Exposition in 1915, Balboa Park was a large, urban, mostly open space park. The fair left an indelible mark on the city and transformed Balboa Park into the cultural center it remains today.
The style of the buildings was freewheeling and ranged from Mission to Spanish Colonial. Prior to this Expo, fairs had stuck mostly to neo-classical architecture, so the buildings in Balboa Park proved to be quite a departure. Most of the elaborate stonework was created in San Diego by local artisans. Many of the buildings were erected on a temporary basis, and only pictures of them survive. Some of the original buildings remain. The Botanical Building is a massive lath structure, at the time one of the largest in the world. It sits at the end of La Laguna De La Flores, pictured in the sepia-toned photograph. The Cabrillo Bridge still spans the canyon and created the western entrace to the park. The California Bell Tower's chimes can still be heard throughout the park. It is 200 feet tall, with an iron weathervane on top in the shape of a Spanish ship. The California State Building is now the Museum of Man, and the Chapel of St. Francis of Assisi is still there. The Spreckles Organ Pavillion remains, as well. The San Diego Zoo, widely regarded as the finest in the world, grew out of the animal exhibits at the Expo.
If business or pleasure take you to San Diego, a trip to Balboa Park is well worth your while, as it is still the crown jewel of the city.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
During the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt established the Works Progress Administration to create jobs for the unemployed. To that end, the Department of the Interior in Washington D.C. commissioned art work for the National Park Service. This poster for Zion National Park was created in 1938, artist unknown.
Zion National Park, located in southern Utah, was created in 1919, after having been a national monument since 1906. "Zion" is Hebrew for refuge or sanctuary. The showpiece of the park is a 15 mile long, half mile deep Navajo sandstone canyon, carved out over the centuries by river water. The park is unique in that it has desert, riparian areas, woodland and coniferous forests. It is home to 289 species of birds, 75 types of mammals and 32 types of reptiles.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The idea for a Christopher Columbus statute in Washington, D.C. came from the Knights of Columbus, the world's largest fraternal organization, dedicated to Unity, Charity, Fraternity and Patriotism. After years of fundraising by the Knights, it was built in front of the Union Railroad Station, of Georgia marble, and dedicated in 1912. The Columbus statue faces the U.S. Capitol and stands 15 feet tall. The fountain below is 66 feet across and the overall height of the monument, including the statue is 44 feet. It has a large medallion to honor King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and symbolizes the New and Old Worlds joined by Columbus.
The photograph was taken in the summer of 1926 and shows city boys having fun swimming in the fountain.
Monday, August 4, 2008
The black cottonwood is a remarkable tree in several regards. Not only is it the tallest western hardwood, it also contains the largest number of genes ever discovered in any living organism. Sometimes called black balsam poplar or California poplar, the black cottonwood grows locally in the southern California mountains and into northern Baja. It grows widely in British Columbia, Washington State, Oregon and Idaho, as well, as its cottony seeds are carried easily on the wind and water for great distances.
This deciduous, broadleaf tree is grown for lumber, its wood is used for magazines and books and it makes an excellent plywood. Reaching maturity after only 4-6 years, it easily attains heights of 60-120 feet and is often planted as windbreaks or to bind soil along river and stream banks, as its deep rooting system prevents erosion. Oil extracted from its buds has a pleasing balsam scent and is used for perfumes and cosmetics.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Edward Curtis was born in Wisconsin in 1868, the son of a Civil War veteran. At the age of 17, in 1885, he was apprenticed to a photographer and when his family moved to Seattle in 1887, he opened a photography studio. A chance meeting on Mt. Rainier led to his inclusion on an expedition to Montana in 1900 to photograph the Blackfeet Indians.
In 1906, J.P. Morgan offered him the incredible sum of $75,000 to produce a series of 20 volumes including 1.500 photographs, chronicling the vanishing world of the American West and the Native Americans. Edward Curtis dedicated himself to the task. He took 40,000 photographs of 80 tribes and made over 10,000 wax cylinder recordings to preserve the various languages and the musical traditions of the tribes. He also documented tribal customs, food, lore, history, housing, garments and ceremonies. Much of what we know today is due to his efforts to preserve this knowledge.
Edward Curtis died in 1952 at the home of his daughter in Whittier, California, a man of a totally different era. The photograph above was a self portrait he made in 1889. The first photograph below was made by him in 1923 of a Hupa man spearing fish midstream amongst fog shrouded mountains in the Pacific Northwest. Edward Curtis titled it "A Smoky Day At The Sugar Bowl". The second photograph below is titled "Canyon de Chelly" and shows seven Navajo riders with a dog, against a background of cliffs, made in 1904.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
If you haven't been able to commit to a real garden, you might try growing a few plants in containers. One advantage is the ability to move the plants around to find an area they like, and as the days get shorter again, you can expose the sunlovers to maximum rays. We prefer clay pots, as opposed to plastic. The plastic retain water better, but there are some plants that don't like to have their feet wet, so to speak, and the clay pots dry more evenly.
You can cluster pots at various levels, massed next to the door. A profusion of color and textures is interesting and welcoming, and the more beautiful your plants are, the more likely you'll spend time outside with them. As your plants grow, you can either transplant them into bigger pots or into the ground. Once you get some flower beds started, try tucking some potted plants into the foliage to create height and add a punch of color. Don't be afraid to plant several types of plants in one pot. Try something tallish, something that spreads sideways and something that will spill over the side.
The photograph shows new guinea impatiens, two types of coleus and lamb's ear clustered together. The lamb's ear is a really versatile plant, grown mostly for its unusual gray-green leaves and furry texture.
Friday, August 1, 2008
The largest program created by FDR's New Deal was the Works Progress Administration. The Department of the Interior in Washington D.C. commissioned art work for the National Park Service. This poster for Mt. Lassen Volcanic National park was created in 1938, artist unknown, part of a Federal Art Project.
President Theodore Roosevelt created Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park in 1916. Located in central Northern California, it encompasses fir and pine forests, cinder cones, lava pinnacles, craters, hot springs, steaming sulphur vents, small lakes and the world's largest plug dome volcano, Mt. Lassen. The peak was named for a Danish blacksmith who settled there in the 1830s and was used as a landmark by early 19th century settlers.