Every year, the Timberland Regional Library chooses one book and pushes everyone in the five counties the system serves to read it, hoping the collective effort will result in discussion and a shared experience surpassing the effect of single readers on their own.
This year’s selection follows the story of a man who succeeded in documenting a culture he thought was disappearing.
Edward Curtis is known for creating ethnographic research and photographs of Native Americans during his lifetime, mostly in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
He rose up from selling oysters on the Puget Sound to knowing President Teddy Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan, a patron of his research, before fading into obscurity. His photos documenting what he believed to be the final years of Native American culture existing. Some of the images are currently on display at the Aberdeen Timberland Library location.
Timothy Egan, Pacific Northwest correspondent for The New York Times, wrote about Curtis’ life in “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: the epic life and immortal photographs of Edward Curtis” and the Timberland library system chose it as the book communities in the system will share this year.
On Saturday, in celebration of that choice, Aberdeen residents Erik Sandgren, Arthur A. Blauvelt III and Richard Vroman, who have spent many years visiting Ancient Puebloan sites in the Southwest, will be at the Aberdeen library to present photographs and findings from their travels in a presentation called “Shadows of the Ancient Puebloans.”
“I hope it kindles an interest in people to pursue the same interest we’ve had over the past 25 years and draw them to participating in it as well,” Blauvelt said.
Blauvelt and Vroman first visited the Four Corners area together in 1986, and have returned around 17 times since. Sandgren accompanied them for the first time in 1994 and has traveled with them about six times since.
The landscape, ancient architecture, petroglyphs and pictographs or rock art is what interested all three the most about the area.
“I’m a landscape painter and what excited me was to paint a landscape with pictures found on the architecture in it,” Sandgren said, who generally paints in the Pacific Northwest with a color pallete very different from the reds, yellows and browns found in the Four Corners.
The presentation will start with Vroman discussing the geology and geography of the area known as the Four Corners region for its union of the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.
“I’m going to introduce the talk by getting people oriented with what we’re going to cover in the rest of the presentation,” Vroman said.
Sandgren, a painter and art instructor at Grays Harbor College, will show photos taken of certain places and then slides showing with how he painted the area on canvas.
He also plans to include slides on the Ancient Puebloan architecture and their rock art.
Blauvelt plans to take the audience on a mental tour of a hike through his favorite areas of their journey through photos and stories.
Those who haven’t read the book yet will not feel lost at the presentation because Egan’s book is not an integral part of their talk.
However, the presenters have all read the book and said it was a great look at a man who gave his life to document Native American culture.
Native American history and life has been an important theme in Sandgren’s work. Blauvelt and Vroman are partners the law firm of Ingram, Zelasko and Goodwin, LLP and for years have been traveling to the Southwest for backpacking trips.
Their paintings, maps and photographs from their visits to the Southwest will be on display in the Bowers Display Cases in the Aberdeen library lobby until Oct. 30.
Shadows of the Ancient Puebloans
Aberdeeen Timberland Library
Saturday, Oct. 12
2 - 3:30 p.m.
Aberdeen Timberland Library
Tuesday, Oct. 22