ARTscapes – Beyond the Frame: To Be Native

Spring 2019

The ARTscapes project is facilitated by Methow Arts. It is designed to activate empty commercial storefronts and vacant space in Okanogan County. ARTscapes brings more foot traffic into downtown and offers more exposure to the creative sector. 

Our current program fills storefronts with images and informational posters about the work of Edward S. Curtis and BEYOND THE FRAME: TO BE NATIVE
A community-wide initiative revisiting the photographs of Edward S. Curtis and sparking conversations on Native identity, race and resilience, art and culture. This traveling exhibit is on loan from the Wenatchee Valley Museum (thank you) and will fill storefronts across the County from May-August. If you’d like to get involved or have vacant space contact our director please @
Thank you to our regional partners Wenatchee Valley Museum, Icicle Center for the Arts, NCRL, Gallery One and Icicle Fund for making this possible.

In the early 1900s, photographer Edward Sheriff Curtis began a 30-year project to preserve in images and words the cultures of American Indian tribes. But in many ways, Curtis’ work also framed Native people in a past he believed was more “real” or “authentic” than contemporary life.


40,000 images of 80 tribes

20-volumes of The North American Indian

2,200 etched metal images, or “photogravures”

5,000 pages of text

10,000 wax cylinder audio recordings

In Curtis’s view, for Indians, “the present was all of decline, the future practically nonexistent, the past glorious.”

If you’d like to get involved or have vacant space contact us please @

Curtis preferred to make images of Natives in traditional dress, as the Yakama member and Chief Joseph are shown here. On several occasions, when a subject did not have traditional Native clothing, Curtis himself provided attire from other tribes. The image of Wilbur Peebo here is notable for Peebo’s Western clothing and short hair. It was unusual for Curtis to create photos of Natives who had assimilated in 20th century culture.

For Natives, the 20th century had familiar ups (electricity, cars, radio!) and significant downs (like Native youth being taken from parents and stripped of their culture in government Indian schools). Neither was the story Curtis told. In one famous image, he used techniques of the day to remove an alarm clock from lodge that otherwise appeared from the mists of history. 

In the century since The North American Indian’s first pages were published, Curtis’ images have not just preserved history. To many people, those images defined it—beginning, middle, and end. Our lives were boxed up and put on history’s shelf.

That view shortchanges a lot of actual history. Curtis didn’t make room in his frame for Natives adapting to modern life, or suffering under U.S. government policies to erase our cultures.

It also shortchanges all of us today—Natives and non-Natives alike.

We’re standing up to challenges. Some, like Native homelessness, are rooted in our historic struggles. Others, like climate change, we face shoulder to shoulder with the global community. We’re enjoying triumphs: in art, in language renewal, in business, and on the lands and waters we’ve tended for millennia.

Today, as in Curtis’ day, to be Native is a concept that’s larger than a single frame.

This branch of ARTscapes will launch in May from Tonasket to the Methow Valley. We will soon publicize a map of all locations and new event information. CONTACT: Amanda Jackson Mott, Executive Director of Methow Arts Alliance with any questions @

HOW IT WORKS: The initiative makes no-and low-cost temporary space, training, and technical assistance available to artists, creative entrepreneurs, organizations, and community groups in order to nurture successful projects that transform communities in Okanogan County into stronger, more active towns and cities. A major goal is to transform empty storefronts into attractive spaces that draw more people to the area, along with potential buyers who may see new possibilities in the once-empty building. 

CONTACT: Amanda Jackson Mott, Executive Director, Methow Arts Alliance,, 509.997.4004.

The project is modeled after successful projects in Seattle and Tacoma which have had unprecedented success in transforming and revitalizing vacant space with innovative artistic projects. Learn more HERE for Storefronts Seattle and HERE for Tacoma’s Space Works.

Methow Arts programming of Beyond the Frame is generously sponsored by Blue Star Coffee Roasters, Barnyard Cinema and Icicle Fund. Thank you.

Read about ARTscapes project beginning:

2014 ARTICLE in Methow Valley News

The Omak Project featured on the front page of the Wenatchee World. Click here to read.