The exhibition, “Made for the Trade”, curated by Ron Johnson and Coleen Kelley Marks with the assistance of Jill Mefford and interns Katie LaSala and Stephanie Mitten, at the Trinidad Museum explores local Native American baskets and the changes that occurred through making them for sale and trade outside of the Indian community.
The “Indian curio trade” redefined baskets as art. Methods of collecting and interpreting baskets changed through commerce, anthropology, photography and displays in a white home's “Indian corner” or “Indian room.”
Major weavers, including Elizabeth Hickox, Nettie Ruben, Amy Smoker and Ella Johnson, are featured as well as collectors and interpreters Brizard & Co., Grace Nicholson, Emma Freeman, A.W. Ericson, Alfred Kroeber and Lila O'Neale.
On view are new basket forms of covered bottles, basket cups and saucers, pedestal and fancy, fancy baskets, stick baskets for clothes, picnics and handle baskets. Many new basket patterns appeared from weavers' imaginations and from designs popular in the commercial world.
Johnson traveled to the Huntington Museum in Pasadena, Berkeley, Yale and to western museums to research this exhibit. On the board of directors of both Trinidad Museum and the Clarke Historical Museum in Eureka, he is an art historian with specialties in late 19th and early 20th century art history. He has taught Tribal Art and many other art classes at Humboldt State University.
The Trinidad Museum located at 400 Janis Court, off Patrick's Point Drive, Trinidad, California is open regularly from Thursday through Sunday, 12:30 to 4 p.m.