Listening to the Guerrilla Girls on the telly Thursday night being interviewed by Colbert resonated with me, brought to mind a little story.
I like pink mountains. I like to see sunset on Mt. Rainier, when the mountain is out, as we say, if it’s visible wherever I’m at that evening. My interest began with a beautiful landscape painting done by my maternal Great Uncle Edward Vanderven of sunset on Mt. Adams. He limited his paintings to the oils he had on hand during the war, so there are only a few of them and I had one with a snowy mountain landscape.
I craved the sunset on the mountain and it wasn’t there, so I looked through many paintings at thrift shops over the years to satisfy that craving, and have a few now.
This beautiful painting was the first I found with a pink sunset on a mountain and is the subject of this little story. I found it about 15 years ago and, at first, I thought that it might have been painted by Uncle Ed using a pseudonym because it is so similar to his mountain landscape paintings, with the same type and level of detail. There was a Dutch master in the family generations ago, and one of the family names translates from Dutch to English as “from the pond,” so it made sense to me. Not perfect sense, but sense.
Please note this was before one could find almost anything with a Google search because everything humans know was not yet on the web. I conducted a search for the artist and the best result was a diary of a gold miner in Alaska in the late 1800s. I thought, sure, miners know mountains and water and trees and brush, so of course a miner could also be an artist.
On a visit several years later to the Seattle Art Museum to see an exhibit of Northwest artists from that period, I spotted a smaller version of the very pink Mt. Rainier that you see here, also signed E.P. Pond. Aha! Then I read the plaque nearby and discovered that I’d made a very common mistake, an understandable mistake.
How is this related to the Guerrilla Girls? The discussion with Colbert began by pointing out that the majority of famous paintings in museums and private holdings were done by white men. I had assumed the artist was a white male, first my great uncle, then possibly a gold miner with a painting hobby. I did not consider that the late artist was a woman named Elizabeth Parrott Pond.