Edward S. Curtis American Indian photogravure exhibit opens Friday

“Bear Bull, Blackfoot” by Edward S. Curtis

Special to American Press

An opening reception for “Mingled Visions: Images from The North American Indian Collection,” an exhibit by photographer Edward S. Curtis, is set for 5:30-8 p.m. Friday at Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center, 1001 Ryan St.

The exhibit includes 40 original photogravure prints, a printing process where a photographic negative is transferred to a metal plate and etched into it. It will be on display until June 30.

Well-known works like “Geronimo” and “Cañon de Chelly — Navaho,” will be on display, along with “Bear Bull — Blackfoot” and “Wichita Grass House.”

Denise Fasske, the center’s arts and cultural events director, said Curtis, who died in 1952 at the age of 84, spent his life documenting the American Indian tribes that stuck to their traditions. Over a 35-year span, Curtis visited more than 80 tribes and produced more than 720 photogravures. His output also included four books, 40,000 photographs, a feature film and 10,000 recordings of speech and music from various tribes. 

“Geronimo, Apache” by Edward S. Curtis

Special to American Press

Fasske said Curtis used fragile glass plate negatives to make each of his photogravure prints, and he was accompanied by assistants during his travels either on horseback or boat.

President Theodore Roosevelt endorsed Curtis’ effort in 1906, and the project got financial backing from J.P. Morgan. Threats of cancellation and a hefty price tag were constants until Curtis finished the project in 1930, nearly two decades after its originally-planned end date. 

Despite Curtis’ work, the project was largely forgotten about over the next several decades. It was rediscovered in the 1970s.

The exhibit, part of the permanent collection from the Dubuque Museum of Art in Dubuque, Iowa, is free to view. The cultural center is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. Donations are accepted.

For more, call 491-9147.