A Dancing Cape, 1987.
Frank Tuttle (Yuki/Wailaki/Konkow Maidu, born 1957)
Mixed media on Rives BFK paper, 30 x 42 in. Crocker Art Museum purchase, with funds from Kathleen Kelly, 1987.5.

Frank Tuttle's art includes intimate paintings of ceremonial scenes and dancers, as well as small-scale constructions of painted and collage elements on the history of First Californians. Much of his work also reflects upon complicated identities.

This abstract painting depicts feathers sewn onto a ceremonial cape. Used in the dances of several Northern California tribes, these capes accentuate the movement of the dancer and allow for feathers to flutter and shift. This image recalls a cape once owned by Henry Azbill (1899–1973), an important Maidu teacher. At the top edge of the painting, there is a suggestion of a feathered headdress, another element of Maidu regalia, though the dancer is not depicted. This focus on regalia instead of the figure suggests the primacy of tradition and ceremonial life of the community over the individual.

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