House Post (Totem) (1850)

by Attributed to Charley James or Mungo Martin

Photo Caption: Photo Robert D. Lasus © 1996 for the Association for Public Art
  • Title

    House Post (Totem)

  • Artist

    Attributed to Charley James or Mungo Martin

  • Year

    1850; installed 1980

  • Location

    Currently in storage

  • Medium

    Carved cedar wood, on stainless steel pedestal

  • Dimensions

    Height 12’6″ (pedestal 7’11”)

  • Themes

    Native American Themes

Acquired by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art)

Owned by the Association for Public Art

From Alert Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

At A Glance

  • This artwork is currently in storage

  • House Post (Totem) is among the sculptures included in the International Sculpture Garden

  • Native Americans of the northwest Pacific coast carved several different kinds of cedar totem poles

  • This totem is a central house pole that belonged to the Kwakiutl of the coastal lands around Queen Charlotte Strait

House Post (Totem) also referred to as Central Post is one of several sculptures included in the International Sculpture Garden at Penn’s Landing, located along the Delaware River between Walnut and Spruce Streets. House Post (Totem) is currently in storage in preparation for the proposed redevelopment of the International Sculpture Garden.

The Association for Public Art continues to collaborate with the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) on plans for the placement and design of a new sculpture garden in the Penn’s Landing vicinity.

Native Americans of the northwest Pacific coast carved several different kinds of cedar totem poles. Inside the house, carved poles supported the roof. Outside, or attached to the front of the house, were frontal or memorial poles carved with mythical figures or symbols of the family. A third type of pole served as a coffin. The totem that is part of the International Sculpture Garden (acquired with support from the Knollbrook Trust) is a central house pole. It belonged to the Kwakiutl of the coastal lands around Queen Charlotte Strait. The iconography includes a bird, a copper coin (symbol of wealth), and a grizzly bear.

House Post (Totem)
Photo Robert D. Lasus © 1996 for the Association for Public Art

The International Sculpture Garden

The International Sculpture Garden was conceived by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) in the 1960s as part of the anticipated U.S. Bicentennial celebration. The open-air installation celebrates and demonstrates the impact of other cultures on the American experience with a focus on ancient and ethnographic artworks. “Each individual piece,” the Association noted, “should not only be typical of that nation’s heritage, but should also be of the highest quality.” The sculpture collection includes a group of significant objects from diverse cultures. The Association acquired and installed the garden’s sculpture collection over several years, and today continues to own and care for these works.

Since its 1976 dedication, the garden’s site has undergone many changes. In 1992, Venturi Scott Brown and Associates’ Columbus Monument, a 106-foot-high obelisk, was erected at the north end, and a hotel now also occupies a portion of that section. Conditions surrounding the garden have changed dramatically in recent years, leading to a reconsideration of the existing garden site. In preparation for the proposed redevelopment of the International Sculpture Garden, most of the sculptures have been removed for conservation treatment and placed in storage.

The Association for Public Art continues to collaborate with the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) on plans for the placement and design of a new sculpture garden in the Penn’s Landing vicinity. The master plan for the Central Delaware released in October 2011, commissioned by the DWRC, states they are working with the Association for Public Art to find a new, suitable location for the collection in the Penn’s Landing area where it can meet its potential as an outstanding and unique public landscape.

 

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