Monday, April 23, 2018


After the Civil War, Arkansas like many of the other southern states went through a period of turmoil both economic, because of lack of free labor, and political as there were mixed opinions about who should be allowed to vote.  The Brooks - Baxter War which was a struggle over voting rights and leadership of the state resulted in considerable weakening of the Republican party and the Democrats held the political edge for the next 90 years.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


Arkansas was one of the few Southern states that was divided in its opinions about slavery.  In the Southeast where cotton could be grown there was enthusiasm for slavery as it was felt it was the only economically feasible way to grow crops but in the Northwest, where subsistent farming was the norm, slavery was not used and therefore not supported.  So initially Arkansas joined the Union.  It was only after Lincoln sent troops to quell the rebellion at Fort Sumter that Arkansas joined the Confederate States.


Thursday, April 12, 2018


Evolution from the Territory of Arkansaw to State of Arkansas, 1819–1836

"Napoleon Bonaparte sold French Louisiana to the United States in 1803, including all of Arkansas, in a transaction known today as the Louisiana Purchase. French soldiers remained as a garrison at Arkansas Post. Following the purchase, the balanced give-and-take relationship between settlers and Native Americans began to change all along the frontier, including in Arkansas.[54] Following a controversy over allowing slavery in the territory, the Territory of Arkansas was organized on July 4, 1819.[c] Gradual emancipation in Arkansas was struck down by one vote, the Speaker of the House Henry Clay, allowing Arkansas to organize as a slave territory.[55]".....Wikipedia

There was a town called Napoleon in Arkansas near the confluence of the Arkansas and Mississippi river.  However due to poor planning on somebody's part in 1863 a channel was cut through the soft land that inadvertently directed the river waters toward the town.  It was finally submerged in 1874 when the banks of the Mississippi River burst through and destroyed the last of the once-thriving port.  I imagine we will be seeing a lot more of that sort of thing in the near future.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The first European explorer to reach Arkansas was Hernando de Soto in 1540. He crossed the Mississippi and marched across Central Arkansas and the Ozark Mountains.  After finding nothing he considered of value and encountering native resistance the entire time, he and his men returned to the Mississippi River where de Soto fell ill.  From his deathbed he ordered his men to massacre all of the men of the nearby village of Anilco, who he feared had been plotting with a powerful polity down the Mississippi River, Quigualtam.  His men obeyed and did not stop with the men, but were said to have massacred women and children as well.  He died the following day.  His body was weighted down by sand and he was consigned to a watery grave in the Mississippi under cover of darkness.  For some reason he had 700 hogs at the time of his death, even though his men were starving because all they had to eat was maize stolen from Native Americans.

And so it seems once again we find that in order to remembered in the history books you don't have to be wise, kind, a good leader who cares for his men, or particularly clever, just march around claiming territory from people who have inferior armaments.

William A. Crafts


Wednesday, April 4, 2018


It's April.  Time to travel to the next state which is Arkansas.  Located in the South, bordering Missouri, Oklahoma, a bit of Texas, Louisiana, Missisppi, and the tip of Tennessee.

The original inhabitants of Arkansas were the Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw Indians.

Here are some paintings of the Osage done by the painter George Catlin.  

George Catlin, painted by William Fisk

Catlin was a fine painter who had a brief career as an attorney before he began his life's work recording Native Americans.  He was inspired initially by his mother who told him stories of her capture by an Indian tribe as a girl, and later by the artifacts brought back by Lewis and Clark.  He visited several tribes and did portraits over a period of many years.

I know George Catlin from his appearance in several Larry McMurtry books.  He was a character in the Berrybender Narratives.  He is also spoken of in the historical novel The Children of First Man, by James Alexander Thomre.  In the 1970 film A Man Called Horse his work is cited as one of the sources for its depiction of Lakota Sioux culture.  His works also figure repeatedly in the 2010 novel Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich.  There he is the subject of the unfinished doctoral dissertation of character Irene America.

During his lifetime he was unable to sell his work to the US Government but now it resides in the Smithsonian among other places including the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018


This whole exercise in learning about the states revolves around painting an image found through cruising the state on Google maps.  This time I found the painting I wanted to work on the very first day I went cruising.

As in most things that involve aesthetic decisions it is unclear exactly why I was drawn to this image but it said 'ARIZONA' to me loud and clear and after a month of investigating Arizona it still does.  Once again half the proceeds from the sale of the painting will go to the ACLU.

Nancy Herman
12" x 24"
oil on stretched canvas


Friday, March 23, 2018


If you go to Arizona there are two hotels that look quite interesting.  The Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix known as the "Jewel of the Dessert" built in 1929 and designed by a draftsman of Frank Loyd Wright's, Albert Chase McArthur, brother of the owners.  Many thought that Wright designed it, but he claimed the credit should all go to McArthur.  Wright was brought in as a consultant for four months in 1928 to help with the Textile Block construction.  There certainly are echos of the Taleisin influence and actually some Wright features have been added over the years.  For instance, reproductions of the geometric 'sprite' statues designed by sculptor Alfonse Iannelli for Wright's 1915 Midway Gardens project in Chicago are placed around the property.

The other old Hotel is the WigWam, in Litchfield, also opened in 1929 as a guest ranch with enough rooms for 24 guests.

Since then it has been updated to fit the times

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


While traveling around Arizona I came upon the Arizona State Museum in Tucson.  I think you might like a bit of a tour around their collections.  

I noticed that they had some Katsina Dolls but few pictures, so I went Googling to see more. At the Heard Museum in Phoenix there is a large collection of these dolls and two videos about their history and information about their carving.  Since Katsina Dolls are the "messengers of the Universe", it seems worth while taking a careful look.  It is interesting that the dolls are carved by men and given to little girls in infancy to teach them the responsibilities of women.....hmmm.  Precursors of Barbies?
Here are some examples, not necessarily found in the museum.  They are quite beautiful, sometimes funny and sometimes scary as they were often used as threats to keep young women in line.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Probably the biggest industries in Arizona are mining and cotton.  And in recent years tourism, as it is home to the GRAND CANYON.   If you have never been to the Grand Canyon HERE is a Smithsonian video that will give you a feel for the place.

Arizona was the last contiguous state to join the union in 1912.

Arizona has the greatest number of acres designated as Indian Tribal land of any state of the union.

Oraibi, a Hopi Indian village dating back to at least 1150 AD, is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Since we are in Cowboy and Indian territory I thought it would be interesting to find out when all this interaction between Cowboys and Indians actually took place.

First of all in order to have Cowboys you have to have cows.  They are not native to the United States but were brought into Texas around the 1700's by Vaqueros, Mexican cattle 

Check THIS site out for a funny and fact filled description of some of the popular incorrect ideas about Cowboys.

HERE is an interesting site about the Oregon Trail.  This link sends you to the Indian page.

Indians following wagon train

So, according to these sources, the Indians were decimated by the millions by white soldiers and disease.  They sometimes actually were cowboys, didn't attack many wagon trains at all, and actually guided and traded with the settlers moving west.

Monday, March 12, 2018


Arizona's original inhabitants were Indian tribes.  

THE HOHOKAMS who distinguished themselves by building system of canals which were later rebuilt my the Mormans around the Phoenix valley, and this lovely pottery which is defined by a distinct Plain, Red, and Decorated buffware tradition.

Hohokam Pottery from Car Grande

THE MOGOLLAN tribe occupying a very large area including Arizona.  These people lived in pit houses originally, but later developed pueblo style buildings.

A subgroup of the Mongolian is the Mimbres culture which is well known for this striking pottery.

The third group of Native Americans were the Ancestral Puebloans who, as you might expect are well known for their Pueblos which they constructed all along the four corners area.  And amazing structures they are accessible by rope or mountain climbing!  They also have some wonderful art work, apparently no written language however.  Here is a very interesting discussion of language as a reflection and then a determining factor in a culture's world view. ( Scroll down to LANGUAGE AND CULTURE)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Where is Arizona exactly?  Well, it is in the Southwestern part of the U.S. with a 389 mile border with Mexico.  In fact it was at one time a part of Mexico.  It is one of the Four Corner states meaning that it borders Colorado, Utah and New Mexico at one point.  You would think this might happen more often but this is the only place it does apparently.  It also shares a border with California and a small portion of Nevada.

Most of the Four Corners region belongs to the semi-autonomous Native American nations, the largest of which is the Navajo Nation, followed by Hopi, Ute, and Zuni tribal reserves and nations.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


From the bone chilling cold of Alaska to the warm, sometimes blistering heat of Arizona,
we are off to investigate more of the great variety of our country.

Just to start off without any facts I put my little yellow figure down willy nilly into the state on Google maps and landed in Bylas, which turned out to be within the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation.

Here are some shots from my trip down the main highway.  I was pleased that I got some paint worthy shots so early in my trip.

Sunday, February 25, 2018


February is coming to an end and just in time I finished my Alaska painting.  I searched many roads looking for just the right place to paint to somehow bring Alaska to life, but no one image seemed to hit me just right, so I decided to combine several images.  I wanted a mountain, some buildings and just the right colors.  The painting had to say "cold" and "lonely" but not forbidding.  At the moment I am quite satisfied with this one.  Once again half the proceeds of the sale of the painting go to the ACLU.

Nancy Herman
12" x 24"
oil on stretched canvas


Last month's painting, SELMA, ALABAMA has a new home and the ACLU has a little more money to fight for our Civil Liberties.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Certainly no information about Alaska would be complete without an examination of its purchase by the United States from Russia in 1867.

Although Native Alaskans had lived in Alaska since around 30,000 BP (before present), and the Russians had only been there since the mid 18th century, they claimed to own it.  And the United States agreed that was the case and paid 2 dollars an acre to purchase it from them.  The $7.2 million paid would be about $105 million today.

The Native Alaskans had no centralized government to object to any of this and so they tacitly agreed to be “owned” by the United States.  U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward signed the treaty with Russia.  The deal was unpopular in many quarters and so it has been known as Seward’s Folly ever since.  Certainly it was the best bargain in World History as Alaska is rich in an abundance of natural resources including gold and oil but, also being bordered by 3 great oceans there are rich fishing grounds and the potential for water power.

Here is a interesting little tid bit that sounds similar to some of the shenanigans going on presently with the Russians.

"Finally, in July 1868, after Johnson lost the Democratic presidential nomination, the House of Representatives voted 113-43 to hand over the money to Russia. A congressional investigation later determined that Stoeckl, the Russian minister, bribed lobbyists and journalists during this time period. Private notes written by Johnson and another U.S. official suggest that Stoeckl—with Seward’s knowledge— likewise made tens of thousands of dollars in illicit payments to members of Congress.” from THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Monday, February 19, 2018


Although the average person refers to Eskimos to describe all native people of the North this is not an accurate description.  All Eskimos are not all native people.  There are many tribes just as there are many tribes of Indians in the lower 48.

In Canada and Greenland, the term Eskimo has largely been supplanted by the term Inuit.  While Inuit can be accurately applied to all of the Eskimo peoples in Canada and Greenland, that is not true of Alaska and Siberia.  In Alaska the term Eskimo is commonly used, because it includes both Yupik and Inupiat.  Inuit is not accepted as a collective term and it is not used specifically for Inupiat (although they are related to the Canadian Inuit peoples)  In US and Alaskan law the words Alaskan Natives cover all tribes.

These natives have survived for centuries under the harshest conditions.  Although electricity has arrived in some areas of the far North, there are still not roads and supplies must be brought in by air.

I have looked at several videos about the life of Native Alaskans and I think THIS one, which is only 20 minutes long seems pretty authentic.  It is an old black and white film not sure when it was made and can’t seem to find out.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Back Home #2

Today was chilly but clear and sunny so I decided to repeat my walk looking for the crocuses in bloom with my camera.  The sun and the fact that everything was now pretty dry definitely changed the colors.  No more deep mysterious greens and oranges, but the day was glorious none the less.  Here the sun lit up the beautiful bark of this Peeling Birch tree.  

Further along the Sycamore was a brilliant white against the pure blue of the sky.

I was wrong about the crocuses however they are still not in bloom.  I guess they are simply too young to fold down their petals and welcome spring....and its a good thing as snow is forecast for tonight.

Further along I sat on this bench which is dedicated to Lenore Susan Spiegel.  As I sat in the sun enjoying the peace of the park I silently thanked Ms Spiegel for the experience.  A bench in the park is a fine memorial to a loved one, as it keeps on giving pleasure to others for years to come.

These walks have brought to my attention how much I have been missing nature and I intend to get out more regularly from now on regardless of the weather.