In the 1950's John was comissioned to carve a large wood frieze commerating the Blackfoot heritage. It took him 4 years to carve the 1800 pound, 4' X 13' cottonwood carving but when he was finished, the carving, (titled Blackfoot Encampment) was considered the most accurate depiction of the Blackfoot people. For years it hung at the hospital in Browning, The Harry Adams Fieldhouse at the University of Montana in Missoula, and The School for the Deaf and Blind in Great Falls. It now has found its permanent home the Montana Historical Society in Helen, Montana.
John spent most of his life on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation next to the eastern boundry of Glacier National Park. Along with carving, John spent much of his time hunting, fishing, and exploring the country side. This enabled him to carve what he saw. This carving of mountain lion attackng a doe and fawn was surely inspired by personal observation.
It was said that John's bear carvings were so realistic you could smell them.
The noted western artist, Charles M. Russell would spend summers at his cabin, Bullhead Lodge, on the shores of Lake McDonald. He and John would become friends and when John asked for advice on how to sell his carvings, Charlie Russell replied; "Your work is like mine, many people like to look at it but there are few buyers..." Like Charlie Russell, John's wife would become his marketing manager.
The following pictures are of a buffalo carved in 1906.
Here is an interesting tidbit. I had someone ask me about a Clarke carving that was signed 'Clark' - not Clarke. I found out that prior to the 1920's the Clarke family spelled their name 'Clark'. Helen Clarke (John's Aunt) discovered the Scottish heritage and officially changed the spelling to 'Clarke'. Thus, sometime in the 1920's John started signing his work with the Scottish spelling, 'Clarke'.
This is an interesting carving of a bear fighting a bull buffalo. This carving was for sale on Ebay - I took the pictures and information from that listing. According to the seller, this carving was originally sold to James J. Hill, the founder of the Great Northern Railroad. Mr. Hill gave the carving to Dr. Alexander McEwan, who was the head surgeon for the railroad. The seller aquired the carving from the McEwan family. ***2-25-15. THIS CARVING IS NOW FOR SALE. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, CONTACT ME AND I WILL SEND YOU THE OWNERS CONTACT INFORMATION. ***********
I purchased this picture off of Ebay. I think the seller found it in the Library of Congress. It is a great picture of John working on a bear. Obviously since he has a suit on, the picture was staged for the camera. Also, looking at he background, it looks like the picture was taken at the original entrance to the lodge at East Glacier.
These pictures are of two nursing cubs and a sow bear - all made into a lamp. The pictures were sent to me by Richard Davis.
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