Artist Specializing in Depictions of Early California Visits the Presidio.

by Anne Petersen

SBTHP archaeologist Michael Imwalle presenting a lance point from the collections of El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park to David Rickman. Photo by Anne Petersen.

In November 2012 author and illustrator David Rickman paid a visit to El Presidio SHP.  David paints amazingly evocative images of early California, with an emphasis on the dress and equipment of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century residents.  His paintings are based on meticulous research into both the historic record and historical collections.  He has worked frequently for the National Park Service and for California State Parks.  In fact, if you have been to a state or national park interpreting early California history, you have likely seen David’s work.

David Rickman photographing a mid-nineteenth century bit in the collections of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, donated by Carol Storke. Photo by Anne Petersen.

David’s recent visit was part of the research phase for a new project for California State Parks: a costume guide and manual for California’s Mexican and early American periods which will be used as a tool system-wide through State Parks. David visited collections throughout southern California on this trip, and documented objects at many of them.   At El Presidio SHP, David was most interested in archaeological material uncovered in the Presidio site, of which many highlights are on display in the Documenting Everyday Life exhibit on the Presidio’s Northeast Corner.   Staff Archaeologist Michael Imwalle assisted David with pieces he was interested in, including lance points and spurs, which he photographed for his records.

Although we hope that State Parks or another agency will commission a future publication focusing on California’s Spanish colonial period, which includes the primary interpretive period for El Presidio SHP, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation will benefit enormously from David’s forthcoming work.  We are committed to interpreting all the layers of history of the Presidio neighborhood, and David’s research will enhance the accuracy of our presentation of material culture.

Anne Petersen is Associate Director for Historical Resources at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.


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