Kindle (Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis) by Timothy Egan
North American Indian yet the price and ensuing depression of the 1930s resulted in few copies being sold andAmerican Indian yet the price and ensuing depression of the 1930s resulted in few copies being sold and being dependent on his daughter and her husband just to make ends meet The few friends he had eventually left to pursue other financially sound projects yet Professor Edward Meany of the University of Washington in Seattle maintained a correspondence with Curtis for the rest of their lives one of the few to do so As a result the University of Washington houses one of the largest Curtis collections today Edward Curtis passed away in 1952 Living most of his life among Native people he did not experience as much change in society as one who would have stayed sedentary Yet Curtis played a ey role in the early motion picture industry earning a credit in a few of Cecil B DeMille s films Today most copies of the North American Indian are housed in notable places in museums as during the 1970s interest in Native American culture made a comeback As Egan notes Curtis was ahead of his time Egan presents a balanced depiction of Curtis a Renaissance man who had character flaws and even staged some of his photographs to present had character flaws and even staged some of his photographs to present in their native dress rather than modern clothes Yet it can not be denied that Edward Curtis photographs were industry altering and his work with the native Americans epic Timothy Egan has exposed many including myself to this magnificent man and I have a feeling that this is just the first of Egan s books that I will experience 45 star. Ass than 40000 photographs and 10000 audio recordings and he is credited with making the first narrative documentary film In the process the charming rogue with the grade school education created the most definitive archive of the American Indian“A darn good yarn Egan is a muscular storyteller and his book is a rollicking page turner with a colorfully drawn hero” San Francisco ChronicleA riveting biography of an American original – Boston Glo.
Timothy Egan ✓ 7 READThat costrights were an issue Also I fear I m not the only photographer amateur of course who was disappointed by how little of the actual techniue and technology was discussed This is not to say that Egan doesn t discuss any of Curtis euipment or dark room practices he does touch on these from time But in fairness to the author that s not really what the story is aboutI ve only read a couple of Egan s books and on a positive note I tend to be interested nay fascinated by the things that he researches On a less positive note I personally don t love his writing and I admit my attention waned throughout the book and I enjoyed it most in relatively small doses so the relatively short chapters helped Frankly my guess is that I find his prose less entertaining because Egan is disciplined and possibly even professional than some of the new new journalists whose history reads like best selling fiction Not to beat the poor expired horse to death but for example I find Egan a bit dry than say Erik Larson Hampton Sides Jon Krakaur or not to go too far afield Michael Lewis But there s no uestion Egan is a real pro and you need look no further than the book s back matter including the chapter notes and the index which are incredibly helpful and impressive to appreciate his level of effortUltimately this is an incredible and informative history not only a biography of an iconic photographer but of the decline of Native American tribes and traditions It s also a heart breaking story of a great visionary s commitment to his art pursued and to a large extent achieved at enormous cost to himself and his family A story well worth readingSupplemental note the Smithsonian Institution referenced periodically throughout the book has an extensive online exhibit on Curtis available at it appears to have been created before this book was published and it s a bit clunky but it s still a nice supplement to the book Page 322 my book The Kiowa writer N Scott Momaday wrote in Sacred Legacy a book of Curtis pictures I felt that I was looking into a memory of my blood Here was a moment lost in time a moment I had nown only in my imaginationNever before have we seen the Indians of North America so close to the origins of their humanity their sense of themselves in the world their innate dignity and self possession Canyon de Shelley Three ChiefsRed Cloud This is a great biography of truly one of the most enterprising of Americans Edward Curtis set out possessed really in the early 1900 s to capture in photographs what was left of the traditional life of the American Indian This uest lasted his entire lifeHe was an intrepid man who had only a grade school education a real self sustainer and true outdoorsman He criss crossed the continent numerous times living in the American Southwest with the Navajo Hopi Apache and in the Great Plains Sioux Comanche Arapaho Curtis lived with these tribes for months at a time and would freuently revisit He also travelled up the west coast of British Columbia to photograph and film the Kwakiutl tribe and then up north to Alaska for the Inuit people He new that the Indian tribes at this stage were a non renewable resource and he aimed as much as possible to forever imprint their traditional way of life in his photos But not only that he along with his associates recorded their vocabulary their songs and their way of life He did all this without a salary He used grants from the millionaire J Pierpont Morgan solely for expenses By the 1920 s Curtis was broke his marriage was a shambles his wife divorced him she essentially raised their three children alone and was constantly borrowing money from friends and relatives I really don t STFU, Parents: The Jaw-Dropping, Self-Indulgent, and Occasionally Rage-Inducing World of Parent Overshare know how she put with him for so long Curtis was dedicated to his cause and everything else was secondaryWe get a real feel in this biography of who Curtis was and how he manoeuvred through so many different worlds from New York art collectors to remote Indian tribes scattered over the continent Curtis died in Los Angeles in 1952 a forgotten man But today his than 40000 photographs of Indians put into twenty volumes during his life time are a masterpiece of a way of life that is forever gonePage 322 Beyond the discussions of whether the bulk of his work is documentary or art or some combination his best photographs defy categories and comment with the heartAs an additional note there are photos in this book but the best way to appreciate it is to have one of the large volumes of Curtis photographs such as Thoughts soon I m only about halfway through but I don t need to finish before giving it five stars Timothy Egan is to books as Ken Burns is to television a master at bringing history and its players to life But I micking myself I lived in Seattle for many years Edward Curtis s home base I ll bet there were plenty of times I could have seen exhibitions of his photographs there s probably a permanent collection in one of Seattle s museums but I never sought him outThis book makes me long for the days when ordinary people tried to do extraordinary things In Curtis s ca This was a long overdue Netgalley read thanks to them Once upon a time in the late 1800 s a young man discovered the emerging art form of photography And he discovered that he was good at it And he began to make a living at it a very good living until he was the premiere portrait photographer of the also emerging city of Seattle And then one day he met a princess on the beach and he fell in love He didn t fall in love with the princess though The young man was of course Edward Curtis who is a textbook example of American Dreamself made manrags to riches the ind of success story that I don t now can that ind of thing still happen And the princess was Princess Angeline aged daughter of Chief Seattle of the exiled or possibly extinct Duwamish who lived in a shack and scavenged on the beach Indians had been forbidden to live in Seattle but she ignored the law and the law ignored her and on she lingered And in the sight of her gathering mussels on the beach one day Edward Curtis saw something remarkable and photographed it And then brought her to his studio and took her portrait And upon this intersection with her life he began to realize that she was representative of something remarkable and terrible the driving out of native Indian people from the lands they had inhabited from time immemorial He realized that he was there at the very moment before the Indians and the many and varied cultures they had built up over centuries vanished Between civilized expansion and missionary zeal not only the physical but the cultural existence of every tribe was being obliterated Curtis s realization became an interest and the interest became a fascination and the fascination became an obsession and for the next uarter century the obsession would send him throughout the country racing the tide of progress to find the remnants of each tribe to talk to elders and to make a record of what was disappearing The result of and also the purpose for this project was supposed to be a multi volume masterwork of biography ethnology anthropology and perhaps most prominently photography each volume of The North American Indian concentrating on a small number of tribes or just one depending on how much access he could gain and how much information he could glean which depended on how much of each tribe still survived Supposed to be because nothing especially art and especially dreams is ever that simple It was an expensive proposition to travel to every tribe and ghost of a tribe and make the extensive record he insisted upon not simply photographs though Curtis s photos were never simple his preferred method of developing was the most deluxe and most expensive and when he couldn t "do that he did the second most but audio recordings and when he met up with the technology film and while "that he did the second most but audio recordings and when he met up with the technology film and while had long since been able to charge top dollar for his society portraits it didn t take long for his personal finances to begin to suffer In a way this was a very familiar story An artist with a big spectacular life changing world changing idea can t afford its execution on his own and everyone he turns to for assistance has the same reaction What a great project Why it will be a boon to humanity I hope get lots of donations for it You let me now how that I hope you get lots of donations for You let me now how that Bye now I loved this book The personalities involved in the Project were many and varied from Teddy Roosevelt to Chief Joseph from JP Morgan to Libbie Custer and so were their mot. All up to pursue his Great Idea to capture on film the continent’s original inhabitants before the old ways disappearedCurtis spent the next three decades documenting the stories and rituals of than eighty North American tribes It took tremendous perseverance ten years alone to persuade the Hopi to allow him to observe their Snake Dance ceremony And the undertaking changed him profoundly from detached observer to outraged advocate Curtis would am. .
Onvan Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis Nevisande Timothy Egan ISBN 618969020 ISBN13 9780618969029 Dar 370 Safhe Saal e Chap 2011 If there were any justice this month s Indian themed Johnny Depp movie would not be The Lone Ranger but the Edward Curtis story I don t now another actor who could convincingly handle both the charisma and dash of the young Curtis and the tragedy of his later years when the weight of his accomplishment had broken everything else in his life and yet even his accomplishment had been largely forgotten In short Curtis set out almost by himself to document in photographs every surviving North American tribe and to publish his work in a serious ethnographic work that would also represent a new pinnacle of the publisher s art How he did this is the story of this bookThe first chapter of how the young studio photographer Curtis took the now iconic picture of Princess Angeline the elderly granddaughter of Chief Seattle who lived as a bag lady in his namesake city is worth the price of the book short poetic and powerful Chapter 10 in which Curtis visits the Little Bighorn with three former scouts who were at the battle and discovers that everything everybody What a Lass Wants knew about the tragedy was wrong is nearly as impressive Along the way there are great vignettes involving Curtis s friend Teddy Roosevelt his patron JP Morgan and his invaluable friend and guide Alexander Upshaw the Native American who got Curtis closer to the tribes than he could have hoped to have gotten by himself Upshaw s story is the Indian story in a nutshellCurtis s story is rich with surprise adventure and heartbreak and Egan s prose is poetic and just This is the best book I ve read in the past year If only I had read Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis before my trip to Seattle this past June The trip was wonderful but this book would have greatly enhanced the trip There were many places I missed notnowing they existed The19 million dollar 23000 suare foot cultural center of the Tulalip Indians would have been a place to visit My road trip to Mount Ranier s Paradise would have been meaningful Hopefully I ll visit this area again If you don t have time to read the long version of my comments suffice it to say I loved this book and highly recommend it Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis was such an interesting read for me on many levels There s the history of Seattle the culture of its American Indian Tribes the beauty of the Cascades and Mount Rainier the lure of the west of long ago What makes this book shine is the story of the Shadow Catcher himself Edward Curtis a brilliant photographer a man with a challenge that would haunt his soul and become the meaning and also the obsession of his life His dream to record through images and word a twenty volume set detailing the dying rituals stories and culture of The North American Indian Timothy Egan excellently takes us on Curtis s three decade journey starting with his captivation at age 12 with his father s Civil War lens an accident at age 22 that left him confined to bed for a year his fascination with a 14x17 view camera which could hold a slice of life on a a large format glass plate negative with such clarity it made people gasp These are the beginnings of his life long obsession with capturing what others could not After Egan sets the big ideain the year 1900 Curtis s story unfolds in chapters of time almost like the photograph stills he took In 1900 Curtis boards The Great Northern Railroad to Indian land long forgotten by Americans He lands in Browning Montana the land of the Blackfeet Nation and here the first step is taken the first sketches writings and photos His plan to photograph all intact Indian communities left in North America to capture the essence of their lives before that essence disappeared Egan ends each chapter with a few images that are relevant to the text These are stunning but left me wanting for Much to think about in these pages I ve read other books that present the American Indian viewpoint on broken treaties and loss of their lands but the images here bring it home sad and sorrowful yet proud strong and hopeful too I was troubled yet impressed by the persistence of Curtis s life long ambition to his project I was amazed that a man who was once renowned who was invited to photograph Theodore Roosevelt s children who then became a friend and often guest of the President whose dream was funded by the lion of Wall Street JP Morgan who married a beautiful smart woman Clara who bore him four children and was initially behind him this same man several decades later died penniless virtually alone with his life s work unappreciated He never new how important his accomplishments would be Was it all worth it in the end In addition to Roosevelt and Morgan Curtis s life crossed with so many other colorful and interesting people Belle Greener the woman hired to oversee Morgan s library journalist William E Myers who wrote much of the copy for the Indian volumes Frederick Hodge an anthropologist with the Smithsonian Edmond S Meany history professor botanist who helped photograph the Sioux His closest friend Alexander Upshaw a Crow Indian spent years roaming the countryside helping Curtis in his research Upshaw died in an icy jail cell reportedly from pneumonia after a drinking binge devastating Curtis The Crow nation felt Upshaw was murdered severely beaten by a group of white men after an argument and then dragged off to jail where he succumbed to his injuries In 1927 Curtis and his daughter Beth journey to Nome traveling the 2350 miles by sea Curtis described Nome as a dump Once the largest city in Alaska with a population of fifteen thousand it now had only a few hundred tired souls in what he describes as a hand me down town The Alaskan Eskimo was the subject of the last of what he describes as a hand me down town The Alaskan Eskimo was the subject of the last of twenty volumes the culmination of the dream Again at what priceEdward Curtis could have been a fine portrait photographer and wealthy man but at what cost to his own plan his dream his desires There are many wonderful websites where you can view his photographs and find further information about The North American Indian I would suggest Northern University Digital Library Collection Edward S Curtis s North American Indian Egan is a compelling storyteller He wove the events of Curtis s life into a cohesive narrative a story with high stakes and heartbreak and Curtis was rendered as a character of interest which will be appealing to many of us who now him only as the person on the other side of the camera who created so many portraits of Native people across North AmericaHowever I felt that this was much too rosy a portrait of Curtis or at least one that does not interrogate his actions Curtis was a non Native man who worked tirelessly to create lasting iconic images of Native authenticity He wanted to preserve a race that he believed was vanishing Indeed we are incredibly fortunate to have these images not because they capture vanishing peoples but because they allow Native peoples to see image Kudos to Egan for an utterly fascinating piece of historical research I m sorry it took me so long to finally get around to reading thisWHAT A STORY What a life What a legacy Wow If you were ever looking for a not surprisingly tragic case study on the level of commitment or obsession of a great artist this one is tough to beat While I was primarily drawn to the book because of photography angle the book also is a potent poignant reminder of how horrific the nation s history is with regard to the displacement abuse suppression and s history is with regard to the displacement abuse suppression and too often extermination of Native American tribes communities religions practices cultures etc And sure while much of this was government policy the book reminds us how freuently abusive behavior was conducted in the lord s name by one would hope well intentioned and well meaning missionariesThe story is also jam packed with fascinating nuggets and cameos of people Presidents titans of industry great film makers places geez Curtis covered some ground and period pieces it s incredible how for example Seattle has changed in what is objectively and relatively a short period of time And the photographs oh my They are splendid gorgeous sublime exuisite remarkable uniue memorable impressive iconic and well you name it Having said that I wish there had been of them although I m sure. “A vivid exploration of one man's lifelong obsession with an idea Egan’s spirited biography might just bring Curtis the recognition that eluded him in life” Washington Post Edward Curtis was charismatic handsome a passionate mountaineer and a famous portrait photographer the Annie Leibovitz of his time He moved in rarefied circles a friend to presidents vaudeville stars leading thinkers But when he was thirty two years old in 1900 he gave it.