Additional baskets from “Sharing Traditions” at Yosemite National Park

I limited my basket photographs in my last post to baskets made by the three main demonstrators at Yosemite in the last 80 years, Maggie Howard, Lucy Telles, and Julia Parker. There were other baskets at well, rooms of them. Enjoy!

Carrie Bethel was Mono Lake Paiute, and these baskets were made in the 1930s and 1940s.

Tina Charlie, Mono Lake Paiute, also made these baskets in the 1930s and 1940s.

Nellie Charlie, Mono Lake Paiute, made these beaded baskets in the 1920s and 1930s.

Jennie Washington was Southern Miwok/Chukchansi, and made these baskets prior to 1940.

Alice Wilson made these baskets in the 1920s. The basket is well-known because a photograph of her infant son inside the basket was sold in Yosemite as a postcard.

Finally, here is some work by unknown artists, various tribes.

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“Sharing Traditions” exhibit at Yosemite National Park

“Sharing Traditions” tells the story of 80 years of basket making in Yosemite National Park. I was fortunate enough to see this exhibit in the summer of 2012, and took pictures to share. Yosemite National Park has an 80-year tradition of basket-weaving demonstrations, and this exhibit celebrates that legacy and the three primary basket-makers – only three! – who demonstrated all those years. From the website: “Sharing Traditions depicts the history of weaving demonstrators in the park from 1929 to the present, examining their critical role as American Indian liaisons to the public and giving visitors the opportunity to connect to the region’s culture,” said Don Neubacher, Superintendent of Yosemite National Park.

Maggie Howard was the first of the three women. She was a Paiute born at Mono Lake, spending most of her life in Yosemite. She worked at the Yosemite Museum from 1929 to 1942, demonstrating acorn preparation and basket weaving. The University of California online digital archives includes one picture of Maggie preparing acorns, with baskets around her (presumably some, at least, are hers).

YosemiteNative1 posted the video below on YouTube, entitled “Bread from Acorns” by Guy T. Haselton, featuring Maggie Tabooosee Howard. Its copyright date is hard to decipher.

Lucy Telles was Mono Lake Paiute and Yosemite Miwok. She was the second artist, and demonstrated from about 1930 to 1956, and is perhaps best known for making the largest basket in Yosemite Valley. At 36″ wide, made of sedge root, bracken fern root, redbud, and willow, the basket was completed in 1933 after four years of work. It was exhibited at the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco in 1939, and is now on display at the Yosemite Museum. Postcards of Telles and her basket were sold at Yosemite, and ranger-naturalists brought tourists to her house to see it. For scale, see this picture of Telles and her basket (perhaps the one sold to tourists?), also at the University of California online digital archives. Less impressive because you can’t see the scale is my picture of the basket below. The workmanship is immaculate, and those who does any sort of structural craft knows that these kinds of things are not easily scalable to large size – there are structural difficulties in making something this large.


Lucy Telles (1933), 36″ wide

Julia Parker, the current basket maker, is now about 87, and has been demonstrating at Yosemite the longest of the three, since 1960. She is Coast Miwok and Kashaya Pomo. Julia married Lucy Telles’ grandson, and shortly after their marriage, moved to Yosemite Valley and began learning from Lucy. SFGate published a story about Julia in June 2013, if you’d like to learn more of her story, and see some pictures of her.

She was there when I visited, and I was a bit starstruck. I’m sure I could have taken a picture of her, but I felt intrusive doing so. Julia was weaving a basket, but when children came by, she stopped what she was doing, and taught them how to play essentially a dice game with acorns, if I remember correctly. From the June 13, 2013 Mariposa Gazette, “When visitors leave I want them to have a better understanding about the baskets and about the plants we have in Yosemite,” she said. “Then they’ll have more caring and more love for the Valley that has protected these plants for us.”

The exhibit was just recently installed before I visited, and appears to have no end date. If you are ever in the matchless Yosemite National Park, please stop at the Yosemite Museum and enjoy the baskets. And perhaps you too will be able to see Julia Parker.

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It’s a good time to see work by Joyce Scott

Joyce Scott is enjoying a lot of well-deserved shows and publicity right now. Here’s what I know – and there could be more!

The cover article of the Fall 2014 issue of UrbanGlass Glass (Quarterly) is of Joyce Scott. It’s a substantial article, unfortunately not freely available online. The description on the website is, “Joyce J. Scott’s work, as fearless as its creator, offers and unflinching comentary on insjustice, violence, and race.” Using my librarian chops, I see that the online magazine indexes of Art & Architecture Complete and Art Source (EBSCOhost databases) carry the full text of Glass. Check with your local public or academic or art library to see if you can get access through them. It’s not online yet; there’s usually a lag until the databases load the article. You can buy the issue from UrbanGlass, of course, and then get all the wonderful color photographs.

Spelman College in Atlanta is currently showing “Brides of Anansi: Fiber and Contemporary Art.” Using Anansi the trickster god as a theme, eight artists “explore how fiber has become a distinctive voice of women of the African Diaspora to articulate identity, relationships, history, experiences, and artistry about the world(s) in which they live.” In the video, you can see Scott’s work at about 4:00. The show is on display through December 6.

The big exhibition that I’d like to get to most is “Maryland to Murano: Neckpieces and Sculptures by Joyce J. Scott at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City. “Maryland to Murano will be the first exhibition to examine the relationship between Scott’s beaded and constructed neckpieces created in her Baltimore, Maryland studio and her more recent blown glass sculptures crafted in the Berengo Studio on Murano Island in Venice, Italy.” “In Scott’s hands, human adornment becomes a vehicle for social commentary and a means for confronting contentious issues affecting contemporary society. Navigating controversial themes including hunger, rape, and racial stereotypes, Scott’s jewelry transcends the typical function of adornment and embellishment.” The exhibition is on display through March 15.

Through today (sorry!) at Goya Contemporary in Baltimore is “Joyce J. Scott: Can’t We all Just Get Along?” From the press release, “Scott is known to deliberately and systematically close the gap between the virtuosity of fine art and the honed adroitness of fine craft, to reveal a practice of meaningful storytelling through the vehicle of the object. Uncharacteristically for Scott, the exhibition Can’t We All Just Get Along? focuses on a particular subject, the global gun culture.”

Recently closed at Mobilia in Cambridge, Massachusetts was “Joyce J. Scott: New Work, 2014.”

On November 23 and 24th, Galerie Myrtis Contemporary Fine Art in Baltimore is having a holiday sale, “Body and Soul,” including work by Scott.

This article on the Metalwerx blog, “Joyce J. Scott, Queen of Beads…” sums up many of these recent Scott sightings and doings, with photographs.

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Lapis and pyrite pendant


Thanks so much to my friend Katherine, who when she went to Chile, kept her eye out for something for me to bead. We met for lunch when she returned, and she poured this lovely lapis cab out of a bag. It is a lovely, rich blue with very attractive pyrite inclusions. I made something simple, but a bit unusual. I attached the cab to a herringbone rope at the bottom with some pyrite beads. There’s about 7″ of unattached rope on either side of the cab, so this forces a nice reverse arc in the herringbone when worn, as shown.

I have a small photography setup that I have used in the past – but it takes up room on my work table. I took this photo without it, and it’s okay, but not great. That’s a reflection of my Ott-light in the cab, not ideal. Some day, I’ll figure it out!

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Turquoise and pearls

I purchased this Kingman turquoise cab perhaps two years ago, and created the pendant. Turquoise-and-pearls-pendant

What I had not done is figure out how to make it into a necklace.


Pearls were the solution. I wanted something with a substantial enough weight to match the pendant, so purchased these creamy stick pearls and tanzanite potato pearls (that’s how they were labeled!). I like it, and it’s sent to its intended recipient – the same intended recipient of two years ago.

I like doing the precise work of good bead embroidery. This finished edge looks quite nice.


I think my next bead project may be bead embroidery too. I have a beautiful lapis cab from a friend who lived in Chile for a while; lapis comes from Afghanistan and Chile. It’s got some pyrite in the stone, and when I purchased the pearls, I also bought some small pyrite beads. I have been daydreaming how I want to use the lapis.

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