Mississippian Effigy Pipes

Provenance, Style, and Iconography – by Vincas P. Steponaitis, Professor of Anthropology & Chair and Director Research Laboratories of Archaeology, University of North Carolina – The Marin Center Lecture Room, San Rafael — February 24, 2013 at 10:00 AM
“He will be reviewing his collaborative studies on large effigy pipes, usually made of stone, that are typically found in the trans-Appalachian South during the Mississippi period (AD 1000-1500).

Although their geographical distribution is wide, many of these pipes are made of a particular type of rock: the Glendon Limestone, which outcrops prominently near Vicksburg, Mississippi. This finding suggests the pipes were made in the Lower Mississippi Valley and transported elsewhere. Narrowing the source further allows us to examine questions of style and iconography. The pipes depict a restricted set of themes – including supernatural creatures and humans in crouching poses – related to Native religious beliefs and practices.”

Vietnamese Tribal Art: A Unique Perspective on the Past and Present Legacy of Over 50 Tribal Peoples

February 10, 2013

Fleet Room, Ft Mason Center, San Francisco, CA

Mark Rapoport, MD was first exposed to the tribal art of Viet Nam (and to tribal art as a whole) in June of 1969. The war in Viet Nam was at its most intense, most physicians in the southern part had been drafted into the military, and few remained to care for the civilians injured in the war or suffering from the ills of a poor third-world country. The AMA had been sending 100 US doctors each year to work for two months in civilian facilities, but Mark became the first medical student to be included.

Though working mostly in the municipal hospital in Danang, he did some work with the “montagnards” in the Central Highlands. This first, intense exposure to a tribal environment made a deep impression on him- a sense that a many people still inhabit an environment vastly different – and vastly more difficult – than that of his native New York. Medical work in Nigeria (at the end of the Biafran war) and the highlands of Guatemala fed his curiosity about tribal cultures and fostered a passion for studying and collecting the material culture of tribal societies.

Mark focused on African objects while living in New York City from 1973 to 2000, but his focus shifted entirely to the artifacts of the 53 ethnic minorities of Viet Nam in 2001. In that year, he and his wife (Jane Hughes, a public manager) moved to Hanoi. Their two children were off to college and the world, and their new-found freedom opened up the possibility of living and working abroad. All four family members had visited Hanoi as tourists in the 1990s, and all four had fallen in love with it. The family vote on choosing a new home was unanimous – Hanoi, 4 votes, the rest of the world, zero votes.

Mark and Jane began work on two medical projects. Jane headed the office of the Population Council in Viet Nam and Mark was working on a research project regarding the legacy of Agent Orange and certain birth defects. In his off hours, he visited mountain villages and city shops to collect artifacts from the ethnic minorities in the northern mountains and in the Central highlands – about 15,000 objects in all.

When the research project ended in 2005, his wife “suggested” that he reinvent himself as a dealer, as well as a collector, of the objects he loved, studied and collected. With a Vietnamese business partner, he founded 54 Traditions Gallery in Hanoi (a reference to the official number of ethnic groups in Viet Nam).

The gallery has flourished since then, and Mark’s work has extended to writing, speaking, working with museums in Viet Nam and abroad, sponsoring Vietnamese artisans for the Santa Fe Folk-art Market, and distributing reading glasses to mountain-dwelling older women to allow them to return to embroidering, a good source of income for people still very much at the edge of poverty.

Mark has agreed to talk to us about the tribal art of Viet Nam and his involvement with it. He will speak to us informally, in a talk illustrated by 100 or so objects from his collection.

Photos of some of the Over 50 Tribal Peoples by FEA members

2015 SF Tribal Art Shows – Sign-Up For Membership Info Tables, Enjoy Lectures


for the February 2015 Tribal Art Shows!



presented by Caskey Lees, Inc.

(Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA):

February 6 — 8 Friday (11-7), Saturday (11-7) and Sunday (11-5)


presented by Kim Martindale

(Marin Center, San Rafael, CA):

 February 21 — 22 Saturday (10-6) and Sunday (11-4)


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

by Pam Najdowski

Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015 at 10 AM

* *

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

by Roslyn Tunis & Dr. Nelson Graburn

Marin Civic Center, San Rafael, Sunday, Feb 22, 2015 at 10:00 am


Hearst Museum Archives: Behind The Scenes Tour

Hearst Museum Archives Tour

A Behind-the-Scenes Tour (Not a Gallery Tour)

 Guided by Hearst Museum staff (including longtime-member research anthropologist Ira Jacknis), on June 7 we will explore the hidden backroom areas unearthing spectacular Eskimo Masks,  Alaska ceremonial (dance) finger fans, intricate pre-historic ivory, quality North West Coast pieces and powerful Yoruba sculptural pieces.

When Phoebe Apperson Hearst founded the University of California Museum of Anthropology in 1901 she brought together anthropological collections that had been accumulating since the University’s establishment in 1868. Mrs. Hearst envisioned the museum as the cultural cornerstone of one of the world’s leading research institutions —“a great educator” of the people of California. As a teacher herself, she embraced the idea that resources and facilities should be made available to the public in order to enhance education in multiple ways.

Mrs. Hearst funded several large-scale expeditions: George Reisner in Egypt, Max Uhle in Peru, Alfred Emerson in Greece and Italy, and Alfred Kroeber in California. The Hearst is distinguished from other Anthropology museums by the breadth and depth of the research and documentation that supports the collections. These systematic collections were gathered according to coherent plans and richly documented by field notes, photographs, maps, or sound recordings. Important collections also came from other regions: Guatemala (Gustavus Eisen), Alaska (Alaska Commercial Company), the Philippines, and the prehistoric Southwest. Phoebe Hearst supplemented these objects with treasures from her personal collections—great examples of works of art acquired from dealers and on her world-wide travels.

Today the Hearst Museum cares for the largest anthropological collection west of the Mississippi with 3.8 million objects whose origins span two million years. Collections of a comparable stature include several museums also founded at the turn of the century: the Harvard Peabody Museum of Anthropology (founded in 1866), the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology (founded in 1889), and the Field Museum (founded in 1893). The Hearst Museum is the largest collection of its kind at a public university. The public gallery space of the Hearst Museum is much smaller than that of any of its peer institutions, and is inadequate to display even a small fraction of the treasures collected by the Museum’s founders and their successors.


Tribal Show: Herbert (Skip) Cole, Professor Emeritus



Friends of Ethnic Art Lecture


50 years in African Art
50 Months of Fieldwork
50 Slides in
50 Minutes—(p.s. It can’t be done…)

Sunday, February 12th,
Fort Mason, Fleet Room (across the street from Festival Pavillion entrance) 10 AM, Free

 Coffee will be served

Well-known writer and teacher of African art, Dr. Herbert Cole was among the first art historians to write primarily from his own fieldwork.   Although his first love has been the arts of West Africa, he has increasingly been able to take a “big picture” view of multiple cultures, describing how art objects and rituals — especially masquerades — make belief systems visible and help order human society.

Cole’s talk features highlights of his fieldwork and exhibitions plus some of his pet peeves and crazy experiences — and stunning photographs: objects, art and architecture in African life and ceremony in NIgeria, Ghana, Mali, Cote d’Ivoie and Kenya.

Curator of twelve exhibitions of African art and author, co-author, or editor of nine books, Cole was the recipient of a Leadership Award, for lifetime achievement, by the Arts Council of the African Studies Association in 2001.

As an emeritus professor, lecturing and consulting a bit and sometimes advising museums such as the de Young, “Skip” Cole founded a “friends of Africa” group in Santa Barbara to raise money for varied NGOs headquartered there. Among his favorite pastimes, as Kofi Cole, is whittling exquisite miniatures of classic African masks and figures, with amazing detail and accuracy. These will be on view after his talk (and for sale, benefitting a fellowship set up to honor his son, killed in Uganda two years ago). For a preview of Skip’s carvings, visit on the web.


In Memoriam

MERLE GREENE ROBERTSON, who merged her loves of art and history into a groundbreaking career in archaeology, died April 22 at her home in San Francisco. She was 97.

A long-time Friends of Ethnic Art member, Mrs. Robertson was a leading researcher of ancient Mayan civilization and a passionate teacher who led hundreds of local students on adventures amid the ruins of Central America and Mexico.

Mrs. Robertson pioneered a type of archaeological rubbing, using rice paper and Japanese ink, that elevated the standard technique for recording images of artifacts to an art form, managing to preserve details that have since deteriorated and were often missed in photography.  More than 2,000 of her rubbings are preserved at Tulane University in New Orleans.


I Did Not Die

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there.

I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the mountain goat on snow.

I am the sunlight on Maya grain.

I am the gentle jungle rain.

When you awake in the morning hush,

    I am the soft uplifting rush

    of quetzal birds in a highland flight.

I am the Venus star at night.

I visit now Hunahpu and Xbalanque,

    in the forever ever land of God K.

I am the Mother Goddess

    of Palenque’s past.

Do not stand at my grave and cry.

I am not there.

I did not die.




VIRGINIA FIELDS dies at 58; scholar of early Mesoamerican art, archaeology at LACMA  In her 22 years at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Virginia Fields helped make the museum a vital center of Latin American culture.

Mesoweb memorial web page:

Book Release Event

. The Friends of Ethnic Art enjoyed a private collection tour and book release event in a spectacular northern California home,  The author, April Dammann,  presented and discussed her book and her experiences in writing it. A press release for the book follows:

Press Release: (LOS ANGELES, February, 2011) – The revealing title says it all: Exhibitionist, Art Dealer as Impresario.

This is a new biography by April Dammann, which chronicles the story of Earl Stendahl, who exposed Los Angeles to a wealth of art and artifacts, and whose Stendahl Galleries continues to thrive as the oldest continuously operating art gallery in the City of Angels.

In 1911 Stendahl, a young candy-maker from Wisconsin, had a vision unlike any other art
dealer in provincial Los Angeles: develop local talent into famous, sought-after painters and
bring the finest works of art from all over the world to Southern California. Henri Matisse, Pablo
Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, David Siqueiros, Marc Chagall, Edgar Payne, Guy Rose, William
Wendt and Lorser Feitelson were among hundreds of artists represented by Earl Stendahl,
who moved among them like the ringmaster of a magnificent circus.

Published as Stendahl Galleries celebrates its centennial, this dazzling illustrated biography
describes Stendahl’s move to Los Angeles in 1909 and his subsequent entry into the fine arts
community. With the zeal of a showman and an extraordinary eye, Stendahl went on to create
one of the most influential art galleries in the world. Exhibitionist includes a cast of characters
that could be taken from a 20th Century Who’s Who. High -profile clients such as William
Randolph Hearst, Edward G. Robinson, and Vincent Price make their appearances, as do
countless other public figures and the famed artists whose careers were nurtured by Stendahl.

The Stendahl story is at its heart a Los Angeles story, peopled with celebrities, rocked by
scandal, full of failure and triumph. The book is also personal. Stendahl was author April
Damman’s grandfather-in-law. She knew him—the “exhibitionist,” who prevailed against all
odds and inspired a family business that has lasted one hundred years.

While first specializing in the Western landscape and plein-air artists of the turn of the last
century, Stendahl later awakened Los Angeles collectors to the world of abstract modernist
painters. Stendahl Galleries was the only place on the West Coast ever to exhibit Picasso’s
monumental Guernica.

Stendahl also made his name as one of the premier dealers in Pre-Columbian art and artifacts,
a nascent discipline at the time.

As Dammann portrays him, Earl Stendahl is a modestly educated man who nevertheless had
impeccable taste in art and artists, and whose loyalty to them was always unstinting. Without
false modesty, Dammann observes, Stendahl preferred to call himself an “art peddler,” and to
those who called him a “pioneer,” Stendahl would amend the accolade to “buccaneer.”

If fine art can be termed “candy for the eye,” readers will learn that Stendahl, originally a
confectioner, continued to craft fine chocolates at the same time he represented some of the
world’s finest painters and sculptors.

Stendahl’s story is an emphatically visual one, and the book includes more than 200 never-
before-published photographs of the man, his family, his galleries, his painters and patrons,
and some of the many outstanding artworks he represented.

Finally, Exhibitionist emphasizes that Earl Stendahl’s legacy is alive today, not only in the
gallery that continues to bear his name, but in the many institutions – both in Los Angeles and
worldwide – whose collections boast Stendahl acquisitions and are thereby indebted to the
man’s keen eye and impeccable taste.

About the Author

April Anson Dammann has been a writer for radio, television, motion pictures and theatre,
and has recently been a producer for the Los Angeles stage. She holds degrees in French
Literature from UCLA, the University of Rochester, and La Sorbonne. She and her husband,
Ron Dammann, live in the same house where Earl Stendahl lived and which continues to
serve as the Stendhal Galleries.

PHONE 310.395.9982  FAX 310.395.3353  WWW.ANGELCITYPRESS.COM

LAND Lecture: Oct. 22


The 2011 Elizabeth and Lewis K. Land Memorial Lecture



By Karl A. Taube, University of
California, Riverside

Saturday, October 22, 2011 ~ 10 AM

Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

                                                                 (Free admission)


 Discovered in 2001, the buried mural chamber at San Bartolo, Guatemala, constitutes one of the richest bodies of information concerning ancient Maya creation mythology. Not only of exceptional
beauty, the murals are also extremely ancient, and are hundreds of years before such Classic Maya sites as Tikal, Copan and Palenque. Dating to the first century B.C., the San Bartolo murals form an important link between the religious beliefs and practices of the still earlier Olmec and the later Classic Maya. In this presentation, Professor Taube will discuss the discovery and excavation of
these murals and their symbolic significance, including such themes as the creation of mankind, the world directions and the mythic origins of Maya kingship. In addition, the presentation will include some of the most recent findings at San Bartolo, including still finer murals from another structure
and the earliest writing and mural painting known for the ancient Maya.

Karl Taube is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Riverside. Much of his recent research and publications center upon the writing and religious systems of ancient Mesoamerica. Selected publications: (with W.A. Saturno, D. Stuart and H. Hurst) The Murals of San Bartolo, El Peten, Guatemala, Part 2: The West Wall (2010) and Part 1: The West Wall
(Boundary End Archaeology Research Center 2005), Olmec Art at Dumbarton Oaks
(2004), “Lightning Celts and Corn Fetishes: The Formative Olmec and the
Development of Maize Symbolism in Mesoamerica and the American Southwest” (in OlmecArt and Archaeology, editors J. Clark and M. Pye, 2000), The WritingSystem of Ancient Teotihuacan (Center for Ancient American Studies, 2000), “The Turquoise Hearth: Fire, Self Sacrifice, and the Central Mexican Cult of War” (in Mesoamerica’s Classic Heritage, editors D. Carrasco, L. Jones,S. Sessions 2000), “The Olmec Maize God: The Face of Corn in Formative Mesoamerica” (RES, 1996).