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A UCMP special exhibit

The Art of Sculptor William Gordon Huff

A Huff chronology

Abbreviations: Tim Huff and the Huff Family Archives, Laytonville, CA HFA; Antonia Huff Rodrigues, Santa Rosa, CA (all photographed by Dave Strauss) AHR; University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) Archives, Berkeley, CA UA; Ray Strong Family Papers, Upper Lake, CA RSFP; Golden Gate International Exposition GGIE; Alameda Naval Air Station ANAS

1883: Thomas Edmond Huff moves to Fresno, CA.

1888: Thomas Edmond Huff marries Celia Aleda Gordon.

1903: William Gordon Huff is born on February 3.

1908-1917: Huff attends Washington Grammar School in Fresno.

1917-1918: Huff is a freshman at Fresno High School.

1918: Celia Huff dies of influenza. Later in the year, the family moves to 881 59th Street in Oakland, CA.

1918-1921: Huff finishes his final three years of high school at Oakland Technical High School.

1921-1922: Huff begins his formal art training at the California Guild of Arts and Crafts, then located in Berkeley.
—The Huff family moves to 923 60th Street in Oakland.

1922-1923: Huff follows Benny Bufano to the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, where Bufano and Edgar Walter become his mentors.
—In March 1923 Huff wins a scholarship to the Art Students' League of New York.
—In May and June of 1923 Huff works on a commission to create large standing figures of the Greek goddesses Artemis and Aphrodite for Margaret Anglin's production of Euripedes' Hippolytus at the Greek Theater in Berkeley.

1923: In October Huff arrives in New York City where he attends art classes at the Art Students League and later at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design.
—Huff's sisters Nellie and Mary buy a house at 2706 Fulton Street in Berkeley and the family relocates there.

1924: Thanks to Remo Bufano and his contacts in the theater world, Huff and his art school buddies get bit parts in Max Reinhardt's play, The Miracle.
—Huff learns the marionette trade from Remo Bufano.
—Huff works in sculptor Arthur Lee's studio.
—Huff's father dies in June.

1924-1925: Huff leaves for Paris in August 1924 and returns to NYC in April 1925. He takes classes at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere with his friends Jones and Davies. Toward the end of their time in Europe, the three tour Italy.

1925-1929: Huff is in New York City from April 1925 to December 1929. He rooms with Paul Ogden, takes classes at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, practices his craft, does some work for Arthur Lee, and takes commissions.

1926+: Huff spends mornings at the Bronx Zoo sculpting animals.

1927: Huff has bronzes made of his bust of Paul Robeson and a sculpture of a leopard, the latter being the only known work that he both signed and dated.

1928-1929: Huff's Paul Robeson bronze is on exhibit at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.

1929-1932: Huff is in Bennington, VT, from December 1929 to the spring or summer of 1932. He keeps busy making medallions and other pieces for local residents, making his first bronze historical plaques and establishing the Bennington Marionette Theater.

1930: In April Huff's first bronze historical plaque, this one honoring Bennington's Civil War participants, is dedicated outside the Bennington Museum.

1931: In August Huff's second bronze historical plaque is dedicated at Walloomsac Heights, NY. This honors the Massachusetts soldiers who fought at the Battle of Bennington in the Revolutionary War.

1931: Huff and Doris Louise Mackintosh marry on November 3, the ceremony being performed by Stanley Cummings, pastor at the Second Congregational Church, Bennington, VT.

1932: In the spring or summer Huff and Doris drive across the country to visit Huff's family in the Bay Area and decide to stay when he gets "a series of breaks." They stay with the family at 2706 Fulton Street in Berkeley.
—In the summer Huff has The Gorham Company, Bronze Division, (of Providence, RI , and Brooklyn, NY) cast a medallion of Collins Millard Graves for Graves' widow in Bennington, VT.
—Huff and Doris have a daughter, Antonia, in December.

1933: In January Huff enters a competition to sculpt a statue of Chief Solano. He wins the competition and works on the 12-foot statue at Oakland's Louis de Rome Memorial Bronze, Brass and Bell Foundry. A dedication ceremony takes place on June 3, 1934, near I-80, four miles west of Fairfield.
—Huff completes his first commission since returning to Berkeley, a plaque commemorating the 30th anniversary of the inauguration of the Key System and its founder, Francis Marion "Borax" Smith.

1934-1938: Eugene B. Bowen attempts to get a bill passed in the Massachusetts legislature supporting the creation of a Saratoga Battlefield monument. Huff envisions a bronze, eight-foot figure of a soldier. The bill fails to pass.

1934: In March, Huff's plaque of Charles Ernest Fay is installed in Goddard Chapel on the Tufts University campus.
—In late 1934, Huff and Doris move to 216 Stanford Avenue in Berkeley but return to 2706 Fulton after one year.

1935: Huff sends out letters in May hoping to generate interest in a project or projects to create busts of prominent Californians and/or prominent East Bay citizens. No funding is forthcoming but he goes ahead and sculpts some of the busts anyway.
—In December Huff is introduced to Charles Camp, probably by Ansel F. Hall of the National Park Service or perhaps Natasha Smith, a Masters student in the Department of Paleontology who was doing some work for Hall.

1936: Huff begins making plaster casts of fossil bones for Charles Camp.

1937: Huff's proposal to sculpt "portrait heads of pioneer notables" is approved by a New Deal program, although there is no evidence that bronzes were ever produced.
—Around August Huff begins work on monumental sculptures for the Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE).

1938: In May Huff begins work on the Department of Paleontology exhibit for the GGIE. Ray Strong is recruited to paint the diorama backgrounds.
—Huff creates his first plaque for E Clampus Vitus, one commemorating the site of John Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat. The plaque is dedicated in Monterey but not mounted; mounting would not take place until 47 years later in 1985.
—Huff completes a plaster bust of Hideyo Noguchi, the Japanese bacteriologist.
—Huff and Doris have a son, Tim, in June.

1939: The GGIE runs from February 18 through October 29.
—Huff's second ECV plaque, this one of Emperor Norton, is dedicated on February 25 but it too is not mounted until years later.
—Following the Emperor Norton plaque dedication, Huff is taken to Treasure Island and initiated into the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus.
—In March, Ruben Stirton writes to the Director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History recommending Huff and Strong.
—In the spring, Huff moves his family to 1192 Arch Street in Berkeley.
—In April Huff writes to the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology in Austin, TX (and possibly other institutions), asking whether they could use someone to model restorations of fossil animals.
—Huff's plaque of John Mohler Studebaker is dedicated in Placerville on August 27.

1940: In February, Ruben Stirton writes to the Museum of Paleontology at the University of Kansas recommending Huff for a preparator position there.
—For the second year of the GGIE (May 25-September 29), Huff creates small prehistoric animal plaques, a life-size head of Pliohippus and other exhibits for the Department of Paleontology.
—Huff does whimsical drawings of Clampers Edgar Jessup and Henry Wagner (and possibly more).
—In September Chester Stock of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, writes Huff asking about his availability and interest in creating life-size restorations of animals found at Rancho La Brea.
—Huff works on "Bison Hunt," a semicircular bas-relief for the Bryan, TX, post office.
—From mid 1940 through early 1941 Huff and Strong work on six dioramas showing horse evolution for a film entitled The History of the Horse in North America. Produced by UC's Visual Instruction Department (Extension Division), the film is released in October 1942.

1941: Huff, Strong and later, Ruben Stirton, advertise their expertise in visual education to California school districts but receive no response.
—Huff and Strong design and create exhibits for a new Science Wing at the Palo Alto Junior Museum; the science wing opens in 1943.
—On December 7, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Huff and the family move to 2603 Fulton Street in Berkeley, about two blocks north of the sisters' house.

1942: Huff draws a reconstruction of the mosasaur Kolposaurus (renamed Plotosaurus) for the frontispiece of Charles Camp's paper on California mosasaurs.
—To support the war effort, Huff gets a job with the A&R Department at the Alameda Naval Air Station. He would work there from December 21, 1942, through his retirement in 1968.

1943: In April Charles Camp tells Annie Alexander that "I am making arrangements to get Bill Huff to do some work in setting up exhibits for the elementary classes."
—Huff draws a reconstruction of the elasmosaurid plesiosaur Hydrotherosaurus for the frontispiece of Sam Welles' monograph on the subject.

1945: Huff and Doris have a son, Colin, in May.
—In August Huff and the family move to 2020 Date Street in Concord.

1946: Huff and Ruben Stirton consider contacting Bay Meadows, a horse racing track in San Mateo, CA, about creating horse dioramas there.
—In December, Huff and Strong work with the Berkeley-Albany PTA in planning for a Berkeley junior museum (the museum never materialized).

1947: Huff's plaque of George Ezra Dane is dedicated in the mining town of Columbia, CA, on September 21.
—Huff and Strong's exhibits prepared for the Palo Alto Junior Museum are featured in a book by R.W. Burnett entitled Life Through the Ages: A Visual Introduction to the Story of Change in Living Things.

1948-1949: Between February 1948 and March 1949 Huff and Strong unsuccessfully try to involve themselves in the design of new exhibits at the Mount Diablo Museum.

1948: Huff and the family move back to 2706 Fulton Street in Berkeley.

1949: On May 30 (Memorial Day) Huff's William Henry Eddy plaque is dedicated at Oak Hill Memorial Park in San Jose, CA.

1950: Huff's Sir Francis Drake plaque is dedicated at Pt. Reyes, CA, on June 17.

1952: Huff produces over 30 original drawings for Charles Camp's book Earth Song: A Prologue to History.
—The Science in Action program, The Horse, featuring Huff's horse sculptures from the 1940 horse-evolution film project, is broadcast on January 15. The following week, another installment features his life-size restoration of the head of Bison latifrons.
—With the help of family and friends, Huff builds a house on an acre of land in Alamo that he bought from his brother Olney. The family moves there in the summer.

1953: Huff's plaque marking the terminus of the transcontinental railroad is dedicated at the West Mall Square in Alameda, CA, on August 22.

1954: Huff's plaque of Sam Brannan is dedicated in Calistoga, CA, on October 24.

1955: Huff's Adam Lee Moore plaque is mounted in Downieville, CA.
—Huff's Chili Bar Miners plaque is dedicated at Chili Bar on the South Fork of the American River, north of Placerville, California.
—After 16 years, Huff's Emperor Norton plaque is finally mounted at Cliff House in San Francisco on November 11.

1956: Huff's Old San Francisco County Jail plaque is dedicated at the corner of Broadway and Romolo Place in San Francisco on April 28.
—Huff's William Bull Meek plaque is dedicated in Camptonville, CA, on May 6.
—Huff's bust of Hideyo Noguchi is presented to the Japanese Consul General at the Alameda Naval Air Station on November 3.
—On November 9 Huff attends the formal presentation of his Noguchi bust to the people of Japan at a ceremony in Tokyo. The bust is placed in Kamegajoshi Park in Inawashiro, Noguchi's home town.

1957: Huff creates a 60-foot-long bas-relief, a reconstruction of an ichthyosaur (Shonisaurus), at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in Nevada. Planning began in late May and the relief was completed by the end of September.

1959: Rededication of Huff's Sam Brannan plaque in Calistoga.
—With big grant money as a lure, V.L. VanderHoof, new Director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (SBMNH), tries to entice Huff and Strong to come work in Santa Barbara. Huff passes but Strong ends up doing a considerable amount of work for the SBMNH.
—Huff's John "Snowshoe" Thompson and James T. Fennimore plaque is dedicated in Virginia City, NV, on June 13.

1960: Huff and Strong work on a small exhibit for the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley.
—Huff makes a second set of horses for V.L. VanderHoof at the SBMNH from the molds he used for the horse-evolution film in 1940. As of 2016, these horses were still on display at the SBMNH in an exhibit on horse evolution.
—Huff and Strong work on exhibits for Zion National Park in Utah from mid 1960 to spring 1961.
—Huff's plaque celebrating the 20th anniversary of the commissioning of the Alameda Naval Air Station is dedicated in October.

1961: Huff and Strong become involved with Project 400, creating dioramas and paintings for a museum (the Hillendale Museum in Mendenhall, PA) imagined by Ernest N. May. They hang with it through mid 1968 when the project comes to an end but, through no fault of their own, have only a single diorama and one painting to show for it.
—Huff and Strong are involved with the Art Activities Center in the newly built student union complex at UC Berkeley. Strong becomes the director and Huff is a guest sculptor. Their involvement lasts only about three months.
—Huff and Strong seek UC Berkeley student support for the creation of a large monument honoring former Mexican president Benito Juàrez. That support—at least the funding—was not forthcoming.
—Huff and Strong print up copies of Huff's "Evolutionary Radiation of the Horse Family" poster, evidently done with Ruben Stirton and Don Savage serving as advisors, for the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) with the instructions to sell them for what they can get and keep the profits.
—Huff and Strong collaborate on a chalk mural for the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. The mural is installed in July.
—Huff's Charles Lewis Camp plaque is dedicated at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park on August 6 but is not mounted.
—Huff, Strong and Camp make plans and pursue funding for a museum or educational exhibits at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park between the fall of 1961 and October 1965.

1962: Huff's life-size restoration of Bison latifrons (and possibly the dioramas from the GGIE) is sent to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.
—Huff is engaged by the California Academy of Sciences to sculpt a life-size rhinoceros. A skin is stretched over it and the rhino is used in one of the Academy's dioramas.
—Huff and Strong are hired to create hallway exhibits for the Department of Paleontology's new home in the Earth Sciences Building (McCone Hall). They work on them from October 1962 through early 1963.
—Strong applies for a Guggenheim fellowship seeking funds to accompany Ruben Stirton to Australia in order to paint reconstructions of some of the fossil marsupials Stirton had found there. The paintings are for a Time-Life volume on Australia. With his application denied, Strong backs out and Huff is then recruited to do the reconstructions (from the States). Huff's drawings are the basis for the final art appearing in the book, published in 1964.

1963: Huff's plaque of Francis Marion "Borax" Smith is stolen during AC Transit's move to new offices.
—Huff builds three scale models of educational kiosks with Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in mind but feels that they would be good for other state and national parks too.

1964: Huff prepares 34 drawings for Charles Camp's book Stories of Fossils which is financed by an NSF grant. Although preliminary versions are printed in 1966, the book does not appear to have been published.
—Huff and Strong meet with representatives from the new Oakland Museum of California regarding exhibit work. Strong does a background for a condor exhibit but Huff's involvement does not progress beyond the meeting stage. The OMCA relationship lasts through 1968.
—Huff's Carl Irving Wheat plaque is dedicated in Murphys, CA, on May 30.

1965: Huff's two-piece ECV Saloon plaque is dedicated in Murphys, CA, on May 29.
—The Palo Alto Junior Museum changes out its Science Wing exhibits and allows Huff and Strong to reclaim some of their material. Huff passes on the offer but Strong rescues a number of panels that the pair had made. Two are displayed at the SBMNH (as of 2011 they were still in storage there).

1966: Huff's Mark Twain/Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County plaque is dedicated in Angels Camp, CA, on May 21.
—Huff's Charles Lewis Camp plaque is dedicated for the second time at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park on August 20 but it again goes unmounted.

1967: Huff's Nimitz Field plaque is dedicated at the Alameda Naval Air Station on January 26.
—Huff's Doolittle Raid plaque is dedicated at the Alameda Naval Air Station on April 18.
—Huff's text-only donor plaque is dedicated at the Peña Adobe in Vacaville, CA, on June 2.
—Huff's Joseph and Hilda Wood Grinnell plaque is dedicated at the Angelo Coast Range Reserve in Mendocino County, CA, in early summer.

1968: Huff's Peña Adobe Park plaque is dedicated at the park's entrance in Vacaville, CA.
—Following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Huff sculpts a twice life-size head of the man. He meets with East Bay organizations to see if any would be willing to fund the casting of the piece in bronze. There are no takers and in frustration he later destroys the plaster head.

1969: Huff's Solano County pioneers/Edwin Markham plaque is dedicated at the entrance to Peña Adobe Park in Vacaville, CA.
—Huff's plaque marking the remains of some of the original inhabitants of the Peña Adobe Park area is dedicated at the park in Vacaville, CA.
—Huff proposes a Wall of Comparative Ovations to Charles Camp. Camp speaks to Dr. and Mrs. Coke Wood, owners of the Travers Building in Murphys, about the project and the use of their building for the wall; they love the idea. Huff describes the plan to the assembled Grand Council of E Clampus Vitus during Memorial Day weekend. Approval for the wall is granted on the spot.

1970: Huff affixes his first ten ceramic plaques to ECV's Wall of Comparative Ovations in Murphys, CA, on April 7. On May 4, 13 more plaques are added.

early 1970s: Huff channels his anger over the Vietnam War into large anti-war pastels.

1971: Huff adds seven more ceramic plaques to the Wall of Comparative Ovations in Murphys, CA.

1972: Huff's plaque celebrating country doctors is dedicated at the Kearney Mansion in Fresno, CA. The plaque is stolen sometime after 1980.

1973: Huff's Charles Lewis Camp plaque is dedicated for the third and last time at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park on May 12 and is finally mounted.
—Huff adds 20 more ceramic plaques to the Wall of Comparative Ovations in Murphys, CA.

1974: Huff's plaque marking the remains of some 16 Solano County pioneers is dedicated on a ridge top above Peña Adobe Park, Vacaville, CA, on April 27.
—Huff's plaque of Chief Truckee, the first of two, is dedicated at Dayton, NV, on July 20.
—Huff's plaque of Chief Truckee, the second of two, is dedicated at Truckee, CA, on August 10.
—Huff adds two more ceramic plaques to the Wall of Comparative Ovations in Murphys, CA.
—A replacement for the stolen Francis Marion "Borax" Smith plaque is created and is to be mounted at the Bay Area Electric Railroad Association's streetcar museum (now the Western Railway Museum in Suisun City).

1975: Huff's plaque of Albert A. Michelson is dedicated in Murphys, CA, on May 31.
—Huff has a month-long exhibition (June 12-July 13) of his artwork at the Vacaville Art League Gallery in Vacaville, CA.
—Huff's plaque recognizing the sacrifice of aerial tanker pilots who lost their lives is dedicated at the Ukiah Municipal Airport, Ukiah, CA, on June 25.
—Huff creates a marker for the grave of Rodney Rulofson in Angels Camp, CA, probably in the fall.

1976: Huff's plaque of Rodney Rulofson is dedicated at Pñna Adobe Park in Vacaville, CA, on March 28.
—Huff adds eight more ceramic plaques to the Wall of Comparative Ovations in Murphys, CA.

1977: Huff's plaque of Robert E. Burns is dedicated at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA, on April 16.
—Huff adds one more ceramic plaque to the Wall of Comparative Ovations in Murphys, CA.

1978: Huff's plaque of Absalom Shultz is dedicated in Fortuna, CA, on September 10.
—Huff adds three more ceramic plaques to the Wall of Comparative Ovations in Murphys, CA.
—Tim Huff, with his wife Joanne, installs a bronze plaque at the grave of Samuel Huff, William Gordon Huff's great-great-grandfather, in Marion County, Illinois.

1979: Huff's two-piece plaque of James Clyman is dedicated in Napa, CA, on February 3.
—Huff adds five more ceramic plaques to the Wall of Comparative Ovations in Murphys, CA.

1980: Huff's plaque of the Liberty Bell slot machine is dedicated in San Francisco, CA, in June. It is replaced by a newer plaque on October 24, 1984, and Huff's original plaque is moved to somewhere in Reno, NV.
—Huff adds one more ceramic plaque to the Wall of Comparative Ovations in Murphys, CA.

early 1980s: Mark Goodwin rediscovers Huff and Strong's Permian and Pleistocene GGIE dioramas at San Francisco's Randall Museum and brings them back to Berkeley.

1981-1982: Huff pulls together materials to create an informal autobiography for his children.

1983: Huff's plaque of Antonio M. De La Guerra is dedicated at the Old Capital Building in Benicia, CA, on October 8.

1984: Huff's plaque of a Chinese gentleman drinking tea is dedicated at the Chinese Historical Museum in San Francisco in the fall.
—A plaque recognizing Huff's contributions is dedicated at Peña Adobe Park in Vacaville, CA, on August 18.
—Huff makes a bronze plaque to mark the grave of his grandfather, William Hix Huff Jr., in Bond County, Illinois; it is installed by Huff, his son Tim and grandson Kevin Phipps.

1985: After 47 years, Huff's Tortilla Flat plaque is recast and mounted in Monterey on July 13.

1986: Huff's Emperor Norton plaque is moved to San Francisco's Transbay Terminal and rededicated on November 12.
—Doris Mackintosh Huff dies on December 20.

1991: Huff's original horse sculptures from the 1940 horse-evolution film project are taken from UCMP's teaching collections and placed in a museum display on evolution at the Museums at Blackhawk in Danville, CA. They are there for the run of the exhibit, through 1997. Following the close of the exhibit, the horse sculptures go to a local high school.

1993: Huff dies on December 13. Huff had placed a total of 79 ceramic plaques on ECV's Wall of Comparative Ovations in Murphys, CA.

1994: In April, E Clampus Vitus hosts a posthumous party for Bill and Doris at the Peña Adobe to celebrate their many contributions to the Order and Solano County.

1995: Huff's bas-relief of two American lions attacking Bison latifrons goes into storage at UCMP's Regatta storage facility in Richmond.

1997: Diane Blades, representing the San Joaquin Valley Paleontology Foundation, has Huff and Strong's Permian and Pleistocene GGIE dioramas trucked south for the Fossil Discovery Center in Chowchilla.

1999: A ceramic plaque honoring Huff is affixed to ECV's Wall of Comparative Ovations in Murphys, CA, on May 22.

2006: Huff's friend and frequent collaborator, Ray Strong, dies at the age of 101.

2010: Huff's original horse sculptures from the 1940 horse-evolution film project are donated to the Fossil Discovery Center in Madera, CA, and are still on display there today (2019).

2012: Lori Pond, president of the San Joaquin Valley Paleontology Foundation, rescues Huff and Strong's Permian and Pleistocene GGIE dioramas from the Madera County equipment yards and has them moved to her home where they fill two garage bays.

2014: Mark Humpal and I travel to Madera to see Huff and Strong's Permian and Pleistocene dioramas at Lori Pond's house.

2016: Lori Pond dies in October and her heirs dispose of the Huff-Strong Permian and Pleistocene dioramas.

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