New Art Exhibition Opens
John Muir And William Keith Go North To Alaska
Historic California Collection
Reunites John Muir and William Keith
For immediate release: February 7, 2002
Hearst Art Gallery and the William Keith
Collection: 925-631-4069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gallery web address: http://gallery.stmarys-ca.edu
MORAGA -- The third in a series of four exhibitions exploring the
collaborative travels of painter William Keith and naturalist John Muir,
" North to Alaska," opens Saturday, March 16, 2002, and continues through
Sunday, April 21, 2002, in the William Keith Room of the Hearst Art Gallery at
Saint Mary's College.
In the late 1870s and early 1880s, Muir made three forays to Alaska to
continue glacier studies begun in Yosemite Valley a decade earlier.
During each trip, he sent a series of articles to the San Francisco
Daily Evening Bulletin. These reports excited the paper's readership
with eye-witness accounts of the Northern frontier. Keith was among
those strongly affected, and his conversations with Muir intensified his
Keith traveled by steamer to British Columbia and Alaska in 1886 with
his sketch books. The paintings made from these sketches are perhaps
the first Alaskan paintings to be inspired by, rather than simply
descriptive of, the Alaskan landscape. In 1868 the Oregon Navigation and
Railroad Company commissioned Keith to paint the spectacular Sunrise,
Columbia River, on view in the current exhibition, and other dramatic
Northwest scenes for promotional posters. During the summer of 1886,
Keith sketched Davidson Glacier, Glacier Bay, Sitka, and Mt. Fairweather
from the deck of a steamer. Shortly after returning to San Francisco,
Keith exhibited Dreams of Alaska in his studio and at the Bohemian Club.
In 1887 Muir enlisted artists to illustrate Picturesque California.
Keith, of course, was recruited, and in July 1888 the two began a
three-month extensive trip to the North together with many halts and
side excursions to collect sketches and descriptions for the
The pair's most extensive trip to Oregon and the northwest was in the
summer of 1888. They began at Lake Tahoe and continued to Mt. Shasta,
Portland, Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, Multnomah, Snoqualmie and Spokane
Falls, Puget Sound, the Columbia River, and Vancouver Island in British
Columbia. Keith sketched Mt. Shasta, Mt. Baker, Bradford Island,
Columbia River, Black Butte, Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier. This trip
allowed further exploration for a series of articles published later
that year in Picturesque California, along with two Keith paintings, an
etching of the Olympia Range from Victoria, and a photogravure of Mt.
Rainier from Lake Washington.
Muir was by no means a well man when he left home in 1888, but in a
train letter to his wife he expressed confidence that he would "be well
at Shasta beneath a pine tree." In spite of his persistent
indisposition, Muir made the ascent of Mt. Rainier. "Did not mean to
climb it," he wrote to his wife Louie, "but got excited and soon was on
Mt. Rainier, one of twenty Keith paintings owned by Muir and displayed
in Martinez, is on loan by the Muir-Hanna family. In addition to the
paintings and sketches from the Saint Mary's College Collection, the
exhibition includes Inuit ivories acquired by Muir for his daughters,
first edition books inscribed by the naturalist, and paintings on loan
from the Crocker Museum and private collectors.
"North to Alaska" is the third of four exhibits in the Keith Room
showcasing the friendship between Keith and Muir. Original documents are
on loan from the John Muir Memorial Association's William F. and Maymie
B. Kimes Collection. The exhibition was organized by Steve Pauly,
member of the John Muir Memorial Association and the Friends of the
Hearst Art Gallery.
The Hearst Art Gallery, accredited by the American Association of
Museums, is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. until
4:30 p.m. Suggested admission donation is $2. Call 925.631-4379 for
information about membership, group tours and special events.
Contact Heidi Donner at 925.631-4069 or email@example.com for more
Other Exhibits in the Series
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