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In the Mariposa Grove
The two images that I selected for this week are related, not only by artist but by project and subject. As I aspire to work in the world of art dealing and auction houses, I became fascinated when Professor Turner told us that two lots of Carleton Watkins' photographs would be auctioned at Christies in New York. I followed the auction and searched assiduously for images of the actual images and stereographs featured in the sale, but I failed.
The collection came from the Park-McCullough House, to which they were donated by the Park family. In the archives of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley I found hundreds of Watkins' images, and while I can't prove that these images came from the same project as the items featured at Christe's, they are of the same subject matter and genre.
In 1861 Watkins decided that he wanted to visit California and photograph Yosemite and the Mariposa estate, large tracts of unsullied wilderness. It is supposed that he found funding through Trenor Park, an attorney, who agreed to pay for supplies and pack animals if his family could join Watkins on the trip.
I included this print, of two men and a mule standing inside a redwood in Mariposa, in order to illustrate Watkins' interest in populating his exposures with the people joining him on his trips. In gratitude for their kindness, Watkins made a stereographic print of the Park family enjoying a picnic in Mariposa, and presented it to them. This print was included in the lot of stereographic images sold this week at Christies for $79,000. This sum was more than twice what Christie's appraisers estimated the lot to be worth, and seems to signal the increasing collectable nature of these western images.
"24th & California Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68102. Beal's Grill, founded in 1940 by the late Walter and Hazel Beal, noted sports enthusiasts, still remains a favorite Creighton University landmark for its alumni and students. Run now by the founder's son-in-law, Howard Fiedler, it still maintains its original atmosphere of inexpensive fare and sharp repartee. Howard's Birthday is a special event celebrated by his many Friends & Customers."
I love this card. The back has notes written by Howard's wife: "My husband and myself upper left. Leahy, County Attorney Knowles upper right. Our help and customers in lower right." She doesn't name the priest with Howard in the lower left. Sadly, a google street view search shows no signs of Beal's on 24th and California Streets in Omaha.
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