WHAT: Eastman Johnson: Paintings and Drawings of the Lake Superior Ojibwe
From the collection of the St. Louis County Historical Society
WHERE: Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota Duluth
WHEN: June 27 - October 29, 2006
Opening Reception: Tuesday, June 27, 6-8pm.
Lecture by Tom Peacock: Tuesday, June 27th, 6:00 p.m.
Free and open to the public.
Eastman Johnson (1824-1906) is considered one of America's most important painters, known equally for his scenes of everyday rural life in the mid- to late-1800s, and for his portraits of political and literary figures. Johnson traveled to Lake Superior in 1856 and 1857 to visit his sister Sarah, who married pioneer Superior resident William Newton, and his brother Reuben, who owned a sawmill there. While he was here, the artist created a remarkable series of over 30 paintings and drawings from direct observation of the Ojibwe people at Grand Portage, and at Fond du Lac, near what is now Duluth and Superior.
Among the few documents of Ojibwe life found in 19th century art, the significance of these works also lies in their honest and dignified depiction of individuals, rather than stereotypes. Unsold after Johnson's death in 1906, the works were purchased by Richard T. Crane in 1908, and given to the City of Duluth, where they now reside in the collection of the St. Louis County Historical Society. This is the first time in recent years the Johnson Collection has been exhibited in its entirety.
The exhibition at the Tweed Museum of Art also features treaty portraits and 19th century maps and images of Lake Superior from the Richard and Dorothy Nelson Collection of American Indian Art, as well as paintings and drawings by Duluth artist Carl Gawboy, who is a member of the Bois Fort Band of the Minnesota Ojibwe. Gawboy’s depictions of Ojibwe life during the fur trade era have often used Eastman Johnson’s Lake Superior Ojibwe artworks as a reference point.
Free and open to the public, an opening reception for the exhibition at 6:00pm on Tuesday June 27th will feature a talk by Ojibwe educator and writer Thomas Peacock, co-author of Ojibwe: Waasa Inaabida (We Look in All Directions), (Afton Historical Society Press, 2002). Peacock is currently Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of South Florida, and for 13 years was an Associate Professor of Education at UMD.