Saturday, February 28, 2009

Archival Cardboard, Wood Screws and Glue. The Idaho Project by Scott Fife-Part II

Continued from "Big Trouble-The Idaho Project by Scott Fife"

"For the project, Fife borrowed from the classical style of Roman republican portrait busts, and many are larger than life size. By choosing to leave the gray archival cardboard unpainted, Fife evokes the feel of sculptured stone. And the unorthodox, seemingly helter-skelter manner of their display suggests an archaeological find, with its underlying sense of discovery. But these works are far from static statuary. Fife imbues them with a range of emotions and temperaments, including determination, doubt, anxiety, authority, deceit, feigned nonchalance. Some figures engage you directly; others seem preoccupied or look askance. In Fife's engaging interpretations we get a sense of the individual psychology behind each of this case of characters. Exhibited together, they have a haunting presence."
--Scott Fife: Full Service Artist by Christopher Schnoor, Scott Fife - Big Trouble The Idaho Project And Shapers Of The 20th Century

I felt the "haunting presence" when I walked into the exhibition for the first time at the Boise Art Museum, particularly with the large, bigger than life sculpted head of my great grandfather, Frank Steunenberg, lying supine in front of the devil himself, one Harry Orchard.

Photo to the left and in last weeks post comes courtesy of Stephen Lyons of Platform Gallery. Other photos courtesy of Scott Fife and the Boise Art Museum and, along with the following short descriptions, come from Scott Fife - Big Trouble The Idaho Project And Shapers Of The 20th Century unless otherwise noted. I have permission from the artist to use the photographs of his work but reproducing the graphics and text from the book in its entirety requires permission from others that I do not have. Hence, I am not reproducing it here. All rights are retained by the artist.

The best reference material does come from the exhibition book Scott Fife - Big Trouble The Idaho Project And Shapers Of The 20th Century. The Boise Art Museum still has a few copies and I am sure they could use the money. So support the arts and mosey on over if you are near Boise or call Jenaleigh (see below) at the BAM or email them at and pick up a copy.
Hi John,
Such an interesting legacy your family has! Thank you for including the Scott Fife exhibition on your blog. The BAM Store does have several copies of the Scott Fife catalogue available for purchase; they are $19.95 per copy.
Thank you,
Jenaleigh Kiebert
Manager, BAM Store
Boise Art Museum
(208) 345-8330 ext. 34

Below are what I believe is the correct sequence of answers to last weeks quiz. Let me know if I get it wrong. Awhile back when I had my first look at the figures, I got about 75% right. Even now, with a copy of the exhibition book Scott Fife - Big Trouble The Idaho Project And Shapers Of The 20th Century, I have to look carefully at some of the unlabeled photographs

Looking at the large photograph and going across from left to right.

President Theodore Roosevelt was among the political figures who took interest in Governor Steunenberg's assassination and the Haywood trial.

James H. Hawley was one of the two leading prosecuting attorneys in the Haywood trial. Hawley served as governor of Idaho from 1911 to 1913.

Governor Frank Gooding was the governor of Idaho at the time of the Steunenberg assassination (this is my entry as Gooding was not included in the descriptions in the book, John).

William E. Borah, a prosecuting attorney in the Haywood trial, handled the cross-examination and provided the final prosecution summary. Borah served in the United States Senate from 1907 to 1940.

James McParland was a detective and specialist in labor unrest whose investigation of the Steunenberg murder led to the prosecution of Harry Orchard and the trials of "Big Bill" Haywood and George Pettibone, unionists implicated in the assassination.

Harry Orchard was the assassin and chief witness for the prosecution, who confessed that leaders of the Western Federation of Miners had masterminded the murder of Governor Steunenberg. Orchard was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Frank Steunenberg was the former governor of Idaho who was assassinated in December, 1905, in retaliation for his aggressive efforts to suppress labor unrest in the Coeur d'Alene mining district of northern Idaho.

Judge Fremont Wood was a former United States Attorney who presided over the "Big Bill" Haywood trial.

William "Big Bill" Haywood was accused of ordering the Steunenberg assassination and was tried and acquitted of Governor Steunenberg's murder in 1907.

I am going to add the names of the Twelve Jury Members that were sculpted in miniature and are shown in front of Judge Wood and William Haywood. The names were not included in the exhibition book.
1. Thomas B. Gess, Foreman
2. O.V. Sebern
3. Finley McBean
4. Samuel D. Gilman
5. Daniel Clark
6. A.P. Burns
7. H.F.Messecar
8. Lee Schrivener
9. J.A. Robertson
10. Levi Smith
11. George Powell
12. Samuel F. Russell

Did you get all 12 jurors right? Ok, I confess I cannot identify the jurors. I do know that number six from the left in the picture above, the one in the middle, sure looks like Al Kiler to me. Al played a juror in the production of Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century. Maybe Al is actually a little older then he let on.
BTW, have you picked up your copy of the Idaho Public TV DVD yet? Another chance to support public television and the arts. Click on the link above.

"The most remarkable aspect of that dozen was their relative homogeneity. All were or had been farmers. Nine still tilled the land, while one was a real estate agent, one a building contractor, and one a foreman of fence construction. Eight were Republicans, three were Democrats, and one was a Prohibitionist. All but one were fifty years old; most were in their late fifties or their sixties. All wore beards, chin whiskers, or mustaches, or a luxuriant combination of the three."
--From Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas

Eugene V. Debs was a militant American labor rights activist who wrote about the arrest of William Haywood.

Clarence S. Darrow was the famed Chicago attorney who was hired to defend the Western Federation of Miners leader "Big Bill" Haywood.

George A. Pettibone, a union activist and member of the Western Federation of Miners, was accused of conspiring to assassinate Frank Steunenberg. He was acquitted in 1908.

Edmund F. Richardson (in front of Pettibone) was the attorney who, along with Clarence Darrow, let the defense in the trial of "Big Bill" Haywood.

Ethel Barrymore was a Hollywood actress who took an interest in the trial and came to Boise, Idaho, to view the proceeding.

Charles Moyer is not seen in the large group photograph or may be sitting directly behind George Pettibone.

Another picture from a different angle that comes courtesy of Stephen Lyons, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Platform Gallery in Seattle, WA. If I understand correctly, Platform is where Scott is based and you can find more information and links about him under "Artists."

Here are a few other websites for further reading.

Cast of Characters -Scott Fife's eccentric portraiture

POPULIST APPEAL - Scott Fife's Steunenberg Trial Exhibit

Scott Fife Interview (and picture working on Leroy)

Tacoma Art Museum (Leroy is often hanging around in the lobby)

Boise Art Museum (Find the Idaho Project under "Exhibitions" and then Past Exhibitions").

Tony Wright Gallery

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