Wesley Wehr totem pole raising ceremony photographs, 1970  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Wehr, Wesley, 1929-2004
Wesley Wehr totem pole raising ceremony photographs
1970 (inclusive)
9 photographic prints (1 folder)
Collection Number
Photographs of the raising ceremony for the Mungo Martin memorial totem pole.
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

Entire collection can be viewed on the Libraries’ Digital Collections website. Permission of Visual Materials Curator required to view originals. Contact Special Collections for more information.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Wesley Wehr is a painter, paleobotanist, correspondent, autograph collector, friend and champion of Northwest artists. He was born in 1929 in Everett, Washington, and grew up in Seattle. He attended Queen Anne High School and the University of Washington, where he studied musical composition and earned a bachelor's (1951) and a master's (1953) degree. While a student at the University, Wehr became acquainted with Mark Tobey when, for a short period, he instructed Tobey in musical composition. Their friendships with continued throughout Tobey's lifetime and Tobey encouraged Wehr's development as an artist. Over the years, Wehr developed friendships with numerous other Northwest artists, such as Morris Graves and Guy Anderson. While at the University of Washington, Wehr also studied poetry with Theodore Roethke and became acquainted with Susanne Langer, who was a visiting professor of philosophy in 1953. His friendship with Langer also lasted to the end of her life.

During the mid-1950s, while working as a watchman at the Henry Gallery, Wehr began to draw with pen and ink. In the 1960s he turned his creative efforts to painting, beginning with small landscapes in colored crayon. His first exhibit was at the "Artists of the Puget Sound" show at the Henry Gallery in 1961. The next year he was included in the Northwest Annual for the first time. His first one-man show was at the Otto Seligman Gallery in 1967 and his first exhibit outside the region was in 1968 as a part of "Selections From the Personal Collection of Morris Graves" at the Humboldt Gallery in San Francisco. He received international recognition in 1976 with a show at the Gallerie Rosenau in Bern, Switzerland and in 1977 at the Gallerie D'Art Modern group show in Munich. In 1980 the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria presented a retrospective of his work. In addition to his miniature· paintings, Wer is known for his line drawings of imaginary figures, sometimes called "monster drawings." Wehr has also served as guest curator and consultant to the Henry Gallery and other galleries.

Wehr's longtime friendship with the Seattle artist, Helmi Juvonen, (1903-85) also dates from his time at the Henry Gallery. He provided aid and encouragement to Juvonen, particularly in the later years of her life when two retrospective shows which he curated brought her increased, though belated, recognition. He was also responsible for persuading Juvonen to donate her papers to the Libraries' Manuscripts Collection.

Another of Wehr's interests is paleontology. In 1978 he was appointed affiliate curator of paleobotany at the Burke Museum on the University of Washington campus, where he has pursued studies of the region near the Gingko Petrified Forest and, later, a dig near Republic, Washington. In 1980 he discovered a species of extinct fern which was named Osmunda Wehrii for him.

Wesly Wehr began collecting musician's autographs as a high school student. Throughout his life, Wehr has sought the acquaintance of persons he admires and has sustained friendships with Susanne Langer, Elizabeth Bishop, and others through years of correspondence. As a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, he has also collected documentation on the cultural history of the region. This interest has spurred him not only to collect the papers of artists in the region, but also to record and preserve his own experiences and observations through his published and unpublished writings. Examples of this effort are Wehr's "letters to Jose" (Joseph Newland) and to Susanne Langer, which are actually diary entries commenting upon the Seattle arts scene and other topics. (The letters to Jose were never mailed and, together with all other Newland-Wehr correspondence, are closed during the authors' lifetimes.)

Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

The totem pole shown in the photographs was the first to be raised in Alert Bay, British Columbia, in forty years. It was carved and raised in honor of Mungo Martin (Kwakwaka'wakw, 1879-1962) on September 18, 1970. Among the attendees at the ceremony were Chief James King, Chief William Scow (Kwakwaka'wakw), Jonathan Hunt, Helen Hunt, Geoffrey Thorp, Isabel Thorp (University of Washington Anthropology Dept.), Bill Holm, Gary Lundell (University of Washington Libraries),Wesley Wehr and Chief Sandy Willie.

The Mungo Martin memorial totem pole was one of two carved by Tony Hunt, a Kwakwaka'wakw artist, carver, printmaker, mask maker, and jewelry designer. Hunt (and his father Henry) carved and raised two totem poles in Alert Bay in the 1970s in memory of his two grandfathers, Mungo Martin and Jonathan Hunt.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection contains nine black-and-white Polaroid photographs of the Mungo Martin memorial totem pole raising ceremony, held on September 18, 1970, at Alert Bay, British Columbia. Included are images of the partially raised pole and attendees including, Bill Holm, Tony Hunt and Chief William Scow in traditional Kwakwaka'wakw tribal regalia, as well as one photograph taken at Sointula, a Finnish utopian community on Malcolm Island, British Columbia. All photographs were made by Wesley Wehr.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View the digital version of the collection

Restrictions on Use

Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
1 1  Bill Holm and others helping to raise the totem pole, Alert Bay, British Columbia Sept. 18, 1970
1 2  Totem pole being raised, Alert Bay, British Columbia
The photograph includes Tony Hunt and Bill Holm.
Sept. 18, 1970
1 3  Chief King, Chief William Scow and Johnny Peters at totem pole raising ceremony, Alert Bay, British Columbia Sept. 18, 1970
1 4  Totem pole raising ceremony , Alert Bay, British Columbia
Included in photo are Chief William Scow, Geoffrey and Isabel Thorp and Helen Hunt.
Sept. 18, 1970
1 5  Jonathan Hunt and Chief William Scow speaking at totem pole raising ceremony Alert Bay, British Columbia Sept. 18, 1970
1 6  Totem pole raising ceremony, Alert Bay, British Columbia
Included in the photo are Chief William Scow, Geoffrey and Isabel Thopp and Kwakiutl chiefs
Sept. 18, 1970
1 7  Chief James King with talking stick after the ceremony, Alert Bay, British Columbia
Included in the photo are Martin Crilly, Stewart Edge, and Chief Sandy Willie.
Sept. 18, 1970
1 8  Chief William Scow and Gary Lundell after the ceremony, Alert Bay, British Columbia Sept. 18, 1970
1 9  Gary Lundell and tourists from California at Sointula, a Finnish community on Malcolm Island, British Columbia Sept. 17, 1970

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Kwakiutl Indians--Rites and ceremonies--Photographs
  • Totem poles--British Columbia--Alert Bay--Photographs
  • Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)
  • Personal Names :
  • Martin, Mungo,  -1962
  • Wehr, Wesley, 1929-2004
  • Geographical Names :
  • Alert Bay (B.C.)--Photographs
  • Sointula (B.C.)--Photographs
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Photographs