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Joe Knowles

An image of Joe Knowles’ 1923 oil on canvas painting titled Bear River.

The art of Joseph Knowles will be on display from July 27 through Oct. 5 at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, 115 S.E. Lake St., Ilwaco.

Museum hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free on Thursdays thanks to the Port of Ilwaco.

Knowles, who lived from 1869 to 1942, was one of the North Beach Peninsula’s most eminent artists and prominent eccentrics of the first half of the 20th Century, according to a press release from the museum.

He became famous for a publicity stunt he pulled for the Boston Post newspaper, according to the release. He entered the Maine woods in August 1913 without tools, dressed only in a loin cloth and emerged two months later dressed in a bear skin.

The next year, the rival newspaper the Boston American, debunked the story, notes the release.

It didn’t matter. Knowles gained the notoriety he needed to launch a tour of speaking engagements, to publish a book and to sell his art.

Before his stunt, Knowles was an illustrator. His work appeared on the covers of numerous periodicals. The “Golden Age” of illustration was in full swing and his art work fit in to that. By the early 1920s, he settled in Seaview, Wash., where he made his living selling his paintings and prints and doing commissioned works.

The museum exhibit will focus on his work as an artist. According to the press release, his paintings, prints and drawings were widely collected and played an important role in the community where he spent the final decades of his career.

“By placing his work in the context of early 20th Century American art and illustration, we hope that viewers will gain a better understanding of Joe Knowles as a creative and accomplished artist,” CPHM director and curator Betsy Millard is quoted in the release.

For details, call 360-642-3446 or visit columbiapacificheritagemuseum.org.

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