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Women of the tribes

KLAMATH FALLS — Seldom seen photographs by Edward S. Curtis are featured in an exhibit titled “By Her Hand: Native American Women, Their Art, and the Photographs of Edward S. Curtis," at the Favell Museum in Klamath Falls through Aug. 31.

"It's the real deal," museum Director Janann Loetscher said of the exhibit, which includes a relatively new collection of Curtis photographs that are not often displayed. "It's bigger than anything we've ever done. This is something usually seen at museums much bigger than us. We're really hoping to attract audiences from a broad area, including the Rogue Valley."

The exhibit features 60 vintage and contemporary Curtis photographs from the collection of Christopher Cardozo, of Cardozo Fine Art in St. Paul, Minnesota, who owns the largest group of Curtis photos and is considered an expert on Curtis' life.

"Curtis has been my life's work," said Cardozo, 69, who was in Klamath Falls for the exhibit's opening last Friday.

He said the exhibit was created because, "We wanted to do something that hadn't been done before. One of my interests has always been Curtis' photographs of women and children. It seemed like something that was overlooked."

The idea for the Favell exhibit came after Cardozo met Nancy Wendt, one of the key Favell supporters, at a Curtis exhibit in Palm Springs, California, "and she loved what we were doing. Without her it wouldn't have happened."

Cardozo said a key theme of the exhibit at the Favell, and all of Curtis' photographs, are their "emotional and spiritual qualities of his work."

Based on his research, Cardozo insists Curtis "co-created" his images and written material with members of various Native American tribes, including Klamath and Modoc Indians. Curtis took more than 2,200 photographs of Indian culture and wrote nearly 4,000 pages of anthropological text, including transcriptions of music and language — with the cooperation of native people.

"Curtis, in my opinion, is the most misunderstood artist in history," Cardozo said of people who claim he exploited native people. "You can see the intimacy that no other photographer captured," he said, noting, "In his photographs he was trying to create deeper images than pure documentation ... This was about showing them as human beings. These were images they (Indians) wanted preserved."

Cardozo said the Favell exhibit "combines beautiful and vintage prints and photo engraving," including some large 40-by-60-inch prints that feature old-style printing processes. "They have a depth and richness you don't see in digital prints."

While his current focus is on the Favell exhibit, Cardozo said plans are being made for exhibits and publications in 2018, the 150th anniversary of Curtis's birth in 1868. He died in 1952 in Los Angeles.

For more information about Edward Curtis and Christopher Cardozo, visit Cardozo's website at www.edwardcurtis.com.

— Reach freelance writer Lee Juillerat at 337lee337@charter.net or 541-880-4139.



'Papago Girl' is a photogravure print from a photograph taken by Edward Curtis in 1907.
'Girl and Jar' is a 1905 goldtone print that features a woman from the Pueblo Tribe. [Edward S. Curtis photo]