Wayne Carlick and Debra Michel sing an honor song to commemorate the Frog Woman house post at the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, NJ — September 27, 2015

Montclair Art Museum in Monclair, New Jersey is the very first museum in the state to host Native American art.  A 9-foot house post carved a few years ago by Canadian Tlingit artist Wayne Carlick, was gifted to the museum by art collectors Carole and Malcolm Schwartz.  MAM acknowledged the gift by a dedication of the “Frog Woman” house post on Sunday, September 27th.  Wayne and his wife Debra Michel were the guests of honor, making their long drive from the remote village of Atlin, British Columbia down the ALCAN (Alaska/Canadian) Highway, then catching the flight from Seattle to Newark, New Jersey.


Montclair Museum staff, art collectors and the general public attended the dedication of the Frog Woman house post; Wayne gave a very moving story about the legendary Frog Woman

Wayne Carlick was born in 1958 in Atlin, Canada and was raised on the Taku River in British Columbia.  He is a member of the Tlingit Taltan Nation and a clan member of the Xooxhitan House.  His Tlingit name is Yaan Dec-kin Yeil, which translates to Flying Raven.

After completing his schooling, Carlick trained in carpentry.  he began carving poles, posts, bowls and clan regalia in 1992 when he apprenticed with famed Northwest Coast Indian artists Dempsey Bob.  Carlick has become a successful, versatile artists and his artwork is in many museums, including a few pieces in the Montclair Art Museum.

Traditionally, Tlingit families lived together in large clan houses often built in a row along a river bank or beach.  Four carved, painted house posts were placed at each corner of the house where they functioned as supports for the wood framework along the massive tree trunks.  If the posts became very worn over time and could no longer serve as supports, they were attached to undecorated posts since they continued to be held in high esteem.

Featured on house posts are crest figures belonging to certain Tlingit families or sometimes illustrating Tlingit legends such as the story of Frog Woman.


Debra Michel, Wayne Carlick, Frog Woman House Post, Clarissa Rizal and Donna Beaver Pizzarelli

After doing business in Seattle last week, I spent 4 days in Bloomfield working and visiting with my friends Donna Beaver and Al Pizzarelli.  Donna is part of the organization crew working on the Tlingit Mentorship Program along with Preston Singeltary and Sue and Israel Shotridge and I.  Earlier this month, Donna pointed out that MAM was hosting a house post dedication at the end of September and asked if I knew the carver.  I shuffled my schedule a bit to make the trip out East.  Amongst several other things I did in the brief visit, MAM’s dedication was intimate and moving, with lots of syncronicities.  I’m glad I attended!