December 3, 2021 – April 2, 2022
Past Exhibit December 3, 2021 to April 2, 2022
The Steamboat Art Museum is pleased to present “Portrayals of the American West,” showcasing the work of renowned historic Western photographers Roland Reed, Edward Curtis, A.G. and Augusta Wallihan and L.A. Huffman who all worked at the turn of the 19th century. Possibly the first time the works of these five photographers have been displayed together, the exhibit opens Friday, Dec. 3, and continues through Saturday, April 2, 2022.
Roland Reed and Edward Curtis, born four years and 100 miles apart in the Midwest, are both legendary photographers and pictorialists of the indigenous people of the American West. The Wallihans and Huffman recorded the lifestyles and environment of the western settlers and ranchers.
Curtis traveled throughout the American West and created a volume of work that may be unsurpassed, including 10,000 audio works, 20 volumes of text and more than 40,000 images of 80 tribes. His images of indigenous people are iconic and considered by historians and art critics to be the definitive works of his time. When Curtis began what was to become his life’s work, he believed that Western indigenous cultures were vanishing.
Reed’s work, however, is more than ethnography. He is known for his artistic talent, and the images that are a part of the SAM exhibit are of remarkably high quality. Reed spent his entire adult life capturing images of Native Americans. His travels took him to Alaska, Montana, Minnesota, Colorado, California and Arizona. He lived with the Ojibwe people for two years in his endeavor to chronicle their culture.
A.G. and Augusta Wallihan are recognized as being among the first wildlife photographers, living in Lay, Colorado in the northwest corner of the state. Concerned that rampant, reckless hunting in the late 1800s would soon eradicate several species, they decided to photograph wildlife for posterity. Legend has it that Augusta, who was 22 years older than her husband, and A.G. decided to marry for propriety’s sake after being snowbound in a cabin together. Their work, along with Augusta’s prowess as a hunter, brought them to the attention of Teddy Roosevelt, who invited them to the White House. They subsequently presented their work at the 1900 Paris Exposition, as well as the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, where A.G. won a bronze medal.
L.A. Huffman primarily photographed ranch life in Montana and Wyoming as a government photographer. He has been described as the “Charlie Russell of Western photography.” A man of influence, he also served in the Montana House of Representatives.
This exhibition represents a collaboration among several entities throughout Northwest Colorado, including photogravures by Curtis from Steamboat’s Tread of Pioneers Museum; digital prints from scans of the original Wallihan glass plates from Museum of Northwest Colorado; silver gelatin prints from Reed’s glass plates owned by the Jace Romick Gallery in Steamboat, as well as contact prints, unpublished prints, original signed prints and photogravures from private local collections.