Wild West: Plains to the Pacific, now open at the Legion of Honor, includes a spectacularly large photograph from the Museums’ collection, taken by Howard Clinton Tibbitts (1863–1937). Tibbitts was a San Francisco–based photographer who documented the American West for the Southern Pacific Railroad’s magazine Sunset, still published today. This photograph from 1899 depicts members of the U.S. Cavalry’s Troop F, who were charged with the protection of Yosemite from 1883 until 1916.
“Indispensable” is a series that asks the de Young’s Artists in Residence to describe a tool that’s essential to their work.
Steve Ferrera was desperate, so he went to the Alameda Flea Market and bought a bag of used dental tools.
Wild West: Plains to the Pacific, now open at the Legion of Honor, includes more than 170 works—from John Raphael Smith’s mezzotint, The Widow of an Indian Chief Watching Over the Arms of her Deceased Husband made in 1789, to photographs of the central valley taken by Matt Black in 2014—to trace an ever-changing sense of America’s frontier. We talked to the exhibition curators, Jim Ganz and Colleen Terry, about what visitors can expect.
This exhibition is made up entirely from works in our own collection. Does that present any special opportunities?
Jim Ganz: This is a chance to see some old favorites from the de Young in completely new contexts at the Legion of Honor, paired with works that they wouldn’t ordinarily be paired with. For example, Albert Bierstadt’s California Spring reflects the long tradition of European landscape painting, and it’s an idealized, bucolic view of the Sacramento Valley. Robert Bechtle’s Four Palm Trees, on view in the same gallery, was painted at Dixon, CA, only about 20 miles from the location depicted in the Bierstadt.
José Luis Lazarte, Graduate Intern in Painting Conservation
When Alan Sonfist’s (b. 1946) California Earthquake came to the Paintings Conservation department for treatment, my first thought was: This graphite drawing on canvas is more a drawing on a textile than it is a painting. As such, the artwork fell between conservation specialties, and its treatment required collaboration among the Paintings, Paper, and Textiles Conservation departments at the Museums.
During her June residency at the de Young, Jane Kim, a visual artist and science illustrator, will create a project that explores the flora and fauna of Golden Gate Park. As part of our series Indispensible, we asked her to tell us about a tool that’s important to her work.
You chose a tool that might not be familiar to most people.
Yeah, I picked the Pentel Waterbrush. It was introduced to me in a scientific illustration program in 2009 and I’ve been using it ever since. You put water in the handle of the brush and when you squeeze the handle, water comes out of the bristles. I wouldn’t tell anyone that it should be their main brush, but I fell in love with it.
"Indispensable" is a series that asks the de Young’s Artists in Residence to explain a tool that’s essential to their work.
So tell us why you picked a hammer.
I use a lot of bucket paint and this hammer is the best thing for closing the lid on a can. I’m constantly opening and closing my buckets and I’m constantly shaking them. So if they’re not shut tightly, paint is getting all over the place. It’s a really a major part of my process. Look at all my paintings, there’s like a billion colors in there. I’m opening a lot of cans for a short period of time each.