The Greatest of Oceanic Art: Arguing Aesthetics

The Greatest of Oceanic Art: Arguing Aesthetics
February 21, 2016
10:00 amto11:00 am
  • The Greatest of Oceanic Art: Arguing Aesthetics
    International Experts Illuminate and Discuss Favorite Unseen Masterpieces 
    10am, Sunday, February 21, The Firehouse, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco

    Watch the first of Friends of Ethnic Art’s Lecture and Panel Series posted on YouTube

    Mark Blackburn, collector
    Chris Boylan, dealer
    Michael Hamson, field collector and dealer
    Christina Hellmich, the de Young Museum’s Curator in Charge of Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
    Christian Kaufmann,  former curator for Oceania at the Museum der Kulturen Basel
    Eric Kjellgren, former Metropolitan Museum of Art  Curator for Oceanic Art
    Caroline Yacoe, dealer and film maker
    Sam Singer, a long time collector will co-moderate with
    Dave DeRoche, FEA Board Member, collector and dealer

The annual February Friends of Ethnic Art event is on the last day of the San Francisco Tribal and Textile Arts Show. By that time, art lovers and collectors have had time (Thursday night Opening Reception, Friday & Saturday open all day 11-7) to tour the show, exhibiting dealers are relaxed and over their pre-show set-up and stress, and East Coast and European visitors have recovered from jet lag and partying. Wise locals know that 10AM is the only time when they can park easily and close.

This year’s FEA presentation is innovative and unique. Discussion will feature projection and analysis of rare masterworks, from god- and ancestor-honoring statues and ceremonial dance masks to textiles, weapons, artifacts, and jewelry. Friends of Ethnic Art has enlisted a remarkable grouping of collectors and curators, dealers and discoverers, art historians and anthropologists: an internationally renowned panel representative of the disparate persons who love and study and handle Oceanic art. They were chosen for their “good eye” for aesthetics, their exceptional knowledge of all facets of, or special regions of, Oceanic art — Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, the South Pacific from New Guinea to Hawaii — and their ability to speak insightfully and originally. Expect to enjoy expertise, eloquence, perhaps egotism, and eye candy, ranging from the elegance of Polynesian art to the power and Surrealism of Melanesian art. Aesthetics will be analyzed and argued. You’ll see different visions and hear different points of view.

The panelists will identify each piece as to what it is and what Pacific culture it is from. Many of these objects are in lesser-seen museums and institutions, or the rarest books, or the dusty shelves of old private collections. But Why did that expert choose that piece? Panelists will lead the audience into really seeing and comprehending the sculptor’s success in imbuing great power in a figure or a mask, or capturing great shape and form in a club or a charm, or creating wondrously abstract designs on a shield or a churinga. The entire panel will be able to praise or puncture their choices, and the audience will form their own, very personal, opinions.

The floor will then be open for comments, comparisons, and critiques.
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Produced by Friends of Ethnic Art and Dave DeRoche

2018 February Art Shows – Sign-Up For Membership Info Tables, Enjoy Panel/Lecture

2018 February Art Shows – Sign-Up For Membership Info Tables, Enjoy Panel/Lecture
February 19, 2017
10:00 pm


for the February 2018 Art Shows!

Each year we ask members to represent FEA with their personal experiences and FEA brochures and FEA event information at the Shows to share with potential new members and current members.

We hope to assign 2 volunteers to each 3- hour shift. But, if you can’t commit to 3 hours, perhaps you can volunteer for an hour or two?
You don’t have to be at the table with chairs during your entire shift. You can take breaks, and choose to be active and chat with visitors as they pass by or less so. You never know who you’ll meet and it’s fun! Past volunteers confirm this!


Please include your name and best phone contact information for the day of the show.


Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA:

February 9th — 11th :

Friday (11-7), Saturday (11-7) and Sunday (11-5)

& & & & & &

American Indian Art Show|Marin

Marin Civic Center, San Rafael, CA:

 February 17th — 18th :

Saturday (9-11, 11-5 ) and Sunday (11-4)

& & & & & &


Walk-Through of the de Young Museum’s Exhibition Royal Hawaiian Featherwork: Nā Hulu Ali‘i

An FEA Members-Only Walk-Through of the de Young Museum’s Exhibition Royal Hawaiian Featherwork: Nā Hulu Ali‘i

Christina Hellmich, curator in charge of the department of the arts of
Africa, Oceania and the Americas and the Jolika Collection of New Guinea Art, will lead a private tour as she explores the distinctive art, culture, and history of Hawai‘i in the first exhibition of Hawaiian featherwork on the continental U.S. The exhibition features over 75 rare and stunning examples of the finest featherwork capes and cloaks in existence, as well as royal staffs of feathers, feather lei, helmets, and related eighteenth and nineteenth century paintings and works on paper.

Symbols of the power and status of Hawai‘i’s monarchs at home and abroad, these vibrantly colored treasures of the Hawaiian people endure today as masterpieces of unparalleled artistry, technical skill, and cultural pride.

A limited Friends of Ethnic Art-members walk-through will focus on these great art objects and hear Curator Christina Hellmich elaborate on the historical and cultural concepts behind their creation.
Our group will be limited to 20 FEA members.

2015 FEA Holiday Party and Preview of Bonhams’ Auction

Holiday Party and Preview of
Bonhams’ Native American Art Auction
Saturday, December 5th, 2015
Bonhams, 220 San Bruno Ave., San Francisco
Hosted by Jim Haas and Bonhams

Wines, cheeses, Eritrean food, including meat and vegan dishes,
and a slide show of members’ photos for background ambiance
Jim Haas, Vice President and Director of the Ethnographic Art Dept. of Bonhams, and a long-time FEA member, will be on hand to answer questions guests may have while viewing objects in the auction-of Native American art, including jewelry, kachina dolls, paintings, Northwest Coast and Eskimo art, weavings, pottery, baskets, and Plains/Plateau/Woodlands material.

Performance Politics: Role of Shaft Tomb Figures of Western Mexico in Public Rituals

Performance Politics: Role of Shaft Tomb Figures of Western Mexico in Public Rituals

27th Annual Elizabeth and Lewis K. Land Memorial Lecture:
“Performance Politics: Role of Shaft Tomb Figures of Western Mexico in Public Rituals” – Christopher Beekman,
Assoc. Professor, Univ. of Colorado, Denver, and Dumbarton Oaks Fellow for 2015-16
Oct. 24, 2015 (10:00 – 12 noon) – Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum
Were pre-Columbian west Mexican ceramic figures originally used for storytelling before live audiences? Were these charming sculptures of shamans, musicians, warriors, families and animals only intended for burial rituals or might they have been kept and used for public performances before being entombed to accompany the deceased? Come hear the newest thinking on these artifacts (200 BC – AD 250) based on recent archaeological excavations and re-examination of museum collections.

2015 Annual Party, Auction & Meeting

2015 Annual Party, Auction & Meeting

At a historic event space/room in a San Francisco park, with a covered patio, large lawn and panoramic views of the skyline and bay

In keeping with the eclectic interests of FEA members and friends, this year’s party will feature paella, both traditional and vegetarian, sangria, and flamenco music, and our theme will be ETHNIC HATS (Be Creative)

Renew your membership NOW to use the early bird party rate.
Space is limited

We already have a fair number of auction items (THANKS!), but we can always use a few more quality items. Contact to arrange a drop-off or a pick-up with one of our auction committee members. Objects brought the day of the auction will most likely be held until next year (but can count for tax purposes this year.)

You can renew your membership and register (early bird rate until September 10) for the party using PayPal via

or postal mail using the FEA Dues and Party Reservation Form sent to current and lapsed FEA members.

The party location & directions will be sent in a confirmation email after your registration is received.

Just some of the donated items (more are posted at

PNG Mask 2015 Chinese wedding cake box
Indo Figure Indo Figure_Detail Phil Armband 1 Phil_Armband 2 PNG Drum

Walk-Through of the de Young Museum’s Masterworks of African Figurative Sculpture

June 25, 2015
10:30 amto12:00 pm

An FEA Members-Only Walk-Through of the de Young Museum’s Exhibtion Embodiments: Masterworks of African Figurative Sculpture – June 25, 2015 – de Young Museum.

A private FEA-members only docent tour was led by Mary Pat Cress, an FEA member and highly respected docent.

The Exhibit: This selection of sculptures from sub-Saharan Africa pays homage to the figure in African art. Embodiments: Masterworks of African Figurative Sculpture features 120 pieces from the collection of Richard H. Scheller, composed of classic and iconic sculptures as well as more unusual examples that challenge commonly held assumptions about African art. The geographical breadth of the collection and the variations in its depictions of the human form will allow visitors to explore both the histories and the formal qualities of these works of art.

Approximately 110 cultural groups are represented by sculptures spanning several centuries and encompassing a broad range of styles, from realism to abstraction. In their original contexts, these objects represented ancestors, expressed community values, and served religious and ceremonial purposes. For example, Luluwa artists carved bwimpe (power figures) that expressed ideals of beauty as a moral virtue through their highly intricate coiffures and stylized scarification marks, and rituals associated with these sculptures offered protection to women and their children.

As works of art that were removed from their originating communities and entered the art market, the sculptures in this exhibition express value systems and cultural relationships both inside and outside Africa. Works such as the eyema byeri (or “the image of the ancestor”), from the Fang Ntumu of northern Gabon, were once placed atop reliquaries containing human remains. During the early 20th century, such sculptures circulated among European and American dealers and collectors whose interest in African art was spurred by a passion for modernism. The Scheller Collection eyema byeri was once owned by Paul Guillaume, a Parisian dealer and champion of modernist art who was also an advisor to the legendary Dr. Albert Barnes, founder of the Barnes Foundation.

Chinese Minority Textiles from the Collection of Peter Nelson: Yunnan & Guizhou Provinces of China 1985-1996

Chinese Minority Textiles from the Collection of Peter Nelson: Yunnan & Guizhou Provinces of China 1985-1996
February 8, 2015
10:00 amto11:00 am

Chinese Minority Textiles from the Collection of Peter Nelson: Yunnan & Guizhou Provinces of China 1985-1996

Sunday, February 8, 2015, 10 – 11 AM
Fleet Room, Building D, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco

A slide presentation by Pam Najdowski of Peter Nelson’s early textile explorations in SW China.

Peter Nelson (1945-2012), an ethnographic dealer and tour leader, was an early traveler into ethnic areas of southwest China when they were first reopened to Western visitors. He traveled extensively with his camera and was able to document what he saw in the traditional villages of the area. Pamela Najdowski, an independent textile researcher and ethnographic dealer from Santa Fe, New Mexico has acquired from his heirs “Peter Nelson’s Core Collection” which he had selected and saved as the finest examples during the years he was active in the ethnographic marketplace.

Pamela Najdowski’s talk will include Peter’s photographs of communities, local artisans, antique ceremonial outfits, and other textiles as well as examples of his collected textiles.




The Creative Miracle of Eskimo and Inuit Art…from 2,500 Years Ago to the Present

The Creative Miracle of Eskimo and Inuit Art…from 2,500 Years Ago to the Present
February 22, 2015
10:00 amto11:00 am

The Creative Miracle of Eskimo and Inuit Art…from 2,500 Years Ago to the Present

Sunday, Feb. 22 (10 – 11 AM) – Marin Art of the America’s Show, Marin Civic Center, San Rafael

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         300 BC to AD 200, Alaska                         to         20th Century, Canada

A “double” lecture on Inuit/Eskimo art by: Roslyn Tunis, long-time FEA member and Consulting Curator, Thomas G. Fowler Collection of Eskimo and Inuit Art, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the de Young, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; and Nelson H. Graburn, long-time FEA member and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Curator Emeritus, Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Co-Chair, Canadian Studies Program, U C Berkeley.

Ms. Tunis will use examples from the de Young Museum’s Thomas Fowler collection to illustrate the history of Alaskan Eskimo art beginning ca. 2,500 year ago with small ivory and wood carvings through large scale anthropomorphic sculptures created in the 20th century.  She will discuss how the donor, Mr. Fowler, as an artist, adventurer, and traveler collected such extraordinary pieces, and ones that truly represent the Spirit and Yua/Inua or inner soul of pre-historic and contemporary Alaskan Art.

Dr. Graburn will continue by discussing the explosion of Inuit Arts that emerged from the Canadian Artic in the late 1940s and soon flourished in galleries, museums and markets of Canada, the United States, and Europe in the 1950s. These arts revealed the endless creativity of the Canadian Inuit in collaboration with the enthusiasm and energy of many qallunaat (non-Inuit) Canadians. We will explore the origins and spread of this miracle with some attention as to how it differed from the artistic developments in Alaska and Greenland.

Death and Ritual in the Chincha Kingdom: New Insights into the Funerary Practices of the mid-Chincha Valley, Peru

Death and Ritual in the Chincha Kingdom:  New Insights into the Funerary Practices of the mid-Chincha Valley, Peru
January 11, 2015
3:00 pmto5:00 pm


Death and Ritual in the Chincha Kingdom:
New Insights into the Funerary Practices of the mid-Chincha Valley, Peru
by Jacob Bongers


Sunday, January 11, 2015 (3 – 5 PM)
Private home. Members only.

“I will present the 2014 discoveries from tombs in the mid-Chincha Valley, Peru, of textiles, pendants, beads, and post-mortem body manipulation, which add unprecedented insights into funerary practices of the Chincha Kingdom. This talk builds upon last year’s presentation of our discovery of over 500 mostly pre-Inca tombs, known as chullpas.” – Jacob Bongers

Location will be sent only to members.
Limited space. RSVP to  required.

FEA Welcomes New Members –