PhotographerCleora Clark Wheeler

CountryUnited States

MediumGelatin Silver with hand-coloring


View Additional Information & Tags

Color photograph, Framed photograph, Landscape, Landscape, Mountains, Night, Seashore


Image Dimensions: 23.6 x 19.8 cm
Support Dimensions: 24.7 x 19.8 cm (external frame)

Evening by Minnesota (U.S.) artist/photographer/printmaker Cleora Clark Wheeler (1882-1980) was taken near Monterey, California, sometime around 1920. (1.)  The medium of fine Japanese dyes in hues of blue, green and yellow were used to color this double-weight, rough surface silver-gelatin photograph. (1a.) Taken on the Monterey Peninsula overlooking the Pacific ocean, white paint was used by Wheeler for the lone “twinkling” star appearing in the night sky above a lone Monterey cypress tree (Cupressus macrocarpa) with several boulders at its base.


Shown here in its original exhibition frame, where it is listed on the verso frame paper backing as photograph #43, it appeared in the exhibit: ‪Atmospheric Studies: An Exhibition of the Work of Cleora Clark Wheeler, June 1-15, 1922 at the Saint Paul Public Library, Saint Paul Institute in Minnesota.  Evening was one of 19 California views shown in the exhibit under the sub-heading The Seventeen-Mile Drive. The following is the complete list of exhibited photographic works, all of which were hand-colored by Wheeler, as well as a separate section of exhibited bookplates in the order they appeared for the show, with exhibit sub-headings listed first in bold:


Out Where The West Begins : Colorado:

1. The First Range of the Rockies, Flatiron Rocks, Boulder, Colorado, 3. The Wild Sunflower Field, 4. Evening Haze, 5. Away Toward Estes, 6. Twin Owl Rocks, Estes Park, 7. Sunset, 8. Afterglow.


California: At Call-Of-The-Wild, California:

9. A Mountain Stream, 10. Sycamores, 11. Morning Fog Lifting, 12. Live Oak In Autumn, 13. Redwoods, 14. Sunshine Beyond, 15. Across the Canyon, 16. Friendly Shelter, 17. A Forest Monarch, 18. Last Rays, 19. Day Is Passing, 20. Day Is Done, 21. The Hills Call, 22. The Sunlit Valley.


Pacific Grove:

23. Young Pines, 24. White Pines, 25. High Fog Coming In, 26. Country Scene, 27. A Forest Screen, 28. Monterey Pines, 29. Iridescence, 30. In Morning Light, 31. Royal Splendour, 32. The Edge of the Forest.


California: The Seventeen-Mile Drive:

33. Near Carmel-by-the-Sea, 34. Windswept, 35, The Young Forest, 36, The Old Forest, 37, The Three Sisters, 38., The Old Sentinel, 39. Old Cypress Arch, 40. After Nightfall, 41. Noontide, 42. Twilight, 43. Evening, 44. Mustard Sky, 45. Opal Sea, 46. Midway Point, Carmel Bay, 47. Bonfire Sky, 48. The Old Witch, 49. Toward the Orient, 50. Gulls, 51. Journey’s End, Toward Monterey.


Santa Barbara:

52. At Santa Barbara, 53. Toward the West, 54. Panel In Blue, 55. Panel In Yellow, 56. At Daybreak, 57. Panel In Lavendar, 58. At the Bend In the Road, 59. Santa Barbara Mission, 60. Eucaliptus, 61. Approaching Storm, 62. Under Sunny Skies, 63. On the Ridge.


Farther South:

64. On the King’s Highway
65. San Juan Capistrano Mission
66. The South Cloisters


La Jolla:

67. Torrey Pines.
68. The Sea.
69. Cliffs Below Torrey Point.
70. Belasco Colors.
71. Rodinesque.


Old Town:

72. Ramona’s Marriage Place


San Diego:

73. In the Park



Senator Kellog’s Garden, St. Paul

74. The Italian Seat

75. The Sun Dial

White Bear Lake

76. Dellwood Oaks



Robert Tatlow Barnard, Avery Trask Barnard.

Thomas Leslie Daniels.

Harrison Hatton.

Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Lawrence Church and Nellie Coburn Jefferson.

George Currant and Elinoir Ritzinger Kellar.

Frank B. Kellogg.

John Gilman Ordway.

George Harrison Prince.

Charles Eugene Riggs.

Phillip Weyerhaeuser.

Frost Montaine and Emma Phyllis Wheeler.

Cleora Clark Wheeler.

Young Women’s Christian Association.



Provenance for this photograph was a Minneapolis estate, according to Grapefruit Moon Gallery, a sales gallery and auction site based in this city where Evening was purchased. The following biography of Wheeler was included with the sale as part of background:


A Short Biography: Cleora Clark Wheeler

Cleora Clark Wheeler (1882-1980) of St. Paul, Minnesota was a well known artist-painter-designer-photographer and poet. Among other accomplishments she was renowned for her work as a bookplate & Christmas card designer & as an expert in steel die stamping, she was active in the Minneapolis Handicraft Guild. Born in Austin, Minnesota in 1882, she studied design and drafting at the University of Minnesota, and, following graduation, took classes at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (now, Parsons The New School for Design). Coming of age during the era of the photo-secession movement, she was heavily influenced by the work of Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen, firmly adhering to the arts & crafts era assertion that photography was a creative fine art form. She often used the techniques developed by pictorialism to use the camera as a tool of personal artistic expression. When studying under Frank Alvah Parsons she began considering the relationship between design and industrial art and her work, before returning to Minnesota to become an active “designer-illuminator” as she termed herself.

Wheeler returned to Minnesota and established her own studio in the family residence in St. Paul, where she designed custom bookplates, greeting cards, and wedding invitations. Cleora was also very active in various organizations including the National League of American Pen Women & the Chi Chapter of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, in fact she designed the official national coat of arms insignia for the Kappas. During her time as a working artist, she had exhibitions throughout Minnesota, including one in St. Paul that yielded the monograph “Atmospheric studies : an exhibition of the work of Cleora Clark Wheeler, June 1-15, 1922.” Referring to her favorite image (a birch tree/footsteps scene) she said “Birch trees are native to Minnesota, so am I. These footprints in the now are only temporary, but while they last they add beauty to the landscape. My life may be as transitory as they, but if the trail I blaze adds some beauty through the world through which it leads I shall be content.” Her papers are held in collections at New School University of New York, The University of Minnesota, The New York Public Library, Yale University and other institutions. Along with numerous exhibitions in Minnesota and California, Wheeler exhibited at The Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. in 1946.   (2.)


In 1926, some of the Wheeler photographs from Atmospheric Studies were exhibited at Paul Elder & Company, a San Francisco bookseller & publisher. (1898-1968) The following review for the show appeared in Bret Harte’s Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine for November, 1926:


A painter turned photographer will occupy the attention of the visitors at the Paul Elder Gallery October 25 to
November 6. Miss Cleora Clark Wheeler, of St. Paul, Minnesota, gained a reputation as a painter before
she took up photography as her medium. As a result, her prints have a feeling of conscious design and a quality of
painting. Those exhibited at Paul Elder’s will be some of her atmospheric studies of California scenes and a group
of miniature prints from copper plates.

Notes on photograph: Evening shown here in original wood exhibition frame with glass removed. Verso: On paper backing of frame appears the following glued white paper labels in the following order from top to bottom: 1. trimmed monochrome Ex-Libris label with printed Cleora Clark Wheeler at foot: label features footprints in foreground leading to birch trees; 2. ATMOSPHERIC STUDIES on trimmed white paper; 3. CALIFORNIA (smaller typeface than previous) on trimmed white paper; 4. white paper with printed heading: THE SEVENTEEN-MILE DRIVE followed by a list of the aforementioned sequence of photographs 33-51. 43. Evening. is underlined in red ink.

Corrugated cardboard inset within back of frame shows adhered remnants of black paper backing mostly removed-indicating a range of dates this photo was exhibited within present frame. Possibilities include: 1. the photo was exhibited previous to the 1922 St. Paul exhibit with the alternate black paper backing; 2. it is the original 1922 exhibited photograph with the present native verso paper backing; 3. it was additionally re-used from the 1922 exhibit with the present native paper backing for the 1926 Paul Elder exhibit.

verso: small abrasion appearing as minute white line on print surface lower left corner; small hole in lower right corner of frame indicates where original circular metal exhibition tag #43 would have been found.



1. Several California photographs by Wheeler in the collection of the Minnesota Historical Society state these as taken in “Approximately 1920”. A horizontally cropped and untoned version of this photograph in a private collection titled “Near Monterey”. Image also reproduced as b/w halftone frame backing label along with Atmospheric Studies on at least one framed exhbition photograph from this series.

1a. Arthur L. Wilhelm: California Photographs by Kappa Artist: February, 1926 article in The Key, the magazine of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

2. auction listing description: January, 2012: Grapefruit Moon Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota