E.I. Couse Gallery

A recently-acquired masterwork by acclaimed Saginaw artist Eanger Irving (E.I.) Couse featuring Chippewa Chief David Shoppenagon makes its public debut on Saturday, November 20 at the Saginaw Art Museum.

The monumental portrait was painted by Couse and gifted to The Saginaw Club in 1911 where it hung above the fireplace for more than a century. The Saginaw Art Museum purchased the painting from the Club in 2020.

Since the acquisition, the work has been cleaned, conserved, and returned to its original state. It will take pride of place in the museum’s new E.I. Couse Gallery, which will contain an additional 13 works from the celebrated local artist.

“The Saginaw Art Museum is thrilled to be the permanent home for this historically and artistically important painting,” said Michael Kolleth, executive director of the Saginaw Art Museum. “It is a work from the hand of Saginaw’s most renowned painter of a truly significant person in our region’s cultural history. It is in every sense a truly, “Saginaw painting.”

The museum’s acquisition of the Couse painting has been characterized as a “win-win” for the region, according to Dr. Samuel Shaheen, president of the TempleArts* executive committee.

“The museum provides the optimal environment for the preservation and broad public display of the Couse painting while the funds from the sale will be used to help sustain the Saginaw Club, “Shaheen said. “We worked together effectively with the Club to ensure this important piece of our artistic heritage remains in our community. We could not have done this without the tremendous generosity of our donors and supporters across the region and beyond.”

The gallery opens to the public on Saturday, November 20, 2021. Admission to the museum is free on that date.

The Museum is also featuring a new exhibition in conjunction with the University of Michigan Clements Library, No, Not Even for a Picture: Re-examining the Native Midwest and Tribes’ Relations to the History of Photography.

Couse was born in Saginaw and spent his childhood years drawing members of a Chippewa tribe that lived nearby. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Academy of Design in New York, and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris under William-Adolphe Bouguereau. He resided in the summer months for most of his life in Saginaw and winters in Taos, New Mexico. He gained fame for his paintings of the Native American tribes of the Southwest. The museum’s Couse gallery features examples of his work from throughout his career.

Shoppenagon was born in Indianfields, a Chippewa Indian Village in the Saginaw River Valley. In 1795, his grandfather, also a Chippewa chief, was among the Indians who met with General Anthony Wayne at Fort Greenville, Ohio and signed a treaty that ended 40 years of warfare in the Ohio Valley. Shoppenagon arrived in the Grayling area from the Saginaw Valley during the early 1870s. He trapped, hunted, and worked as a guide for sportsmen throughout the northern Lower Peninsula.

For more information on the Saginaw Art Museum, including volunteer opportunities, please visit www.saginawartmuseum.org

*TempleArts is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization operating The Temple Theatre and Saginaw Art Museum.