For the Love of Totem Poles

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I fell in love with Pacific Northwest Coast Indian art when I lived in Vancouver. The first art history course I ever took covered the art of these tribes, along with Polynesian art from the Hawaiian Islands and Maori art (I promptly fell in love with those, too).

I guess my art education has been pretty non-traditional. I did eventually go back and take some Western and European art history courses, so I could converse intelligently with other artists on the topic. I do love the sculpture of Giacometti and Rodin, not to mention Maria Martins, my favorite sculptor (I admit to loving obscure artists). And I traveled on a dicey subway and walked a mile through a sketchy neighborhood to spend hours in the Frida Kahlo museum in Mexico. But I always go back to tribal arts, particularly Pacific Northwest Coast Indian art. I’m magnetically, irresistibly drawn to it. They have amazing master sculptors.

So how happy was I to be back in a place where I could find totem poles in public places? And the Seattle Art Museum has a collection of native art that is to die for. I spent a couple hours in that section of the museum alone. I would have camped out if they had let me.