Grace Hudson Museum & Sun House

Grace Carpenter Hudson, b 1865- d 1937
431 South Main Street, Ukiah, CA 95482 - view on Google Maps
(707) 467-2836
“I understand the Indians. I have been among them always. I know them and they know me.”
—Grace Carpenter Hudson
This art, history, and anthropology complex interprets the lives of nationally known artist Grace Carpenter Hudson and her ethnologist husband, Dr. John W. Hudson, who both documented the lives of the Pomo peoples. Their Craftsman bungalow and studio, which they named Sun House, is an example of artistic living.

ABOUT

Grace Carpenter Hudson grew up in Ukiah, California, then a frontier town. Her parents, A. O. and Helen Carpenter, ran their “Home Gallery” photography business from their Ukiah house, producing images of settlers, farming, logging, and the local Pomo people. Early in life, Grace Hudson assisted her parents in their photography studio by hand-coloring images. She attended the California School of Design in San Francisco.

Grace grew up knowing many Pomo families. Those contacts later gave her and her husband, Dr. John Hudson, the access they needed to document the Pomo culture through her portraiture and his research of their basketry, language, and customs. The local Pomo called her “The Painter Lady.” As one of the first women artists to paint Native Americans, she brought a new intimate, compassionate depiction of the women, children, and elders to American Western Art. This unique perspective propelled her career to one of great success.

Though she was best-known as a painter, Hudson worked in other media. In the 1890s, Grace illustrated a number of articles in Overland Monthly and other national magazines. She also designed rugs that were produced locally by hand. In the early 1930s, Grace designed and patented a family of rabbit boudoir dolls displayed in a pastoral wooded setting. Also at that time, she sculpted a prototype for a ceramic rabbit garden sculpture. She used her photography skills throughout her career, to document the people who appear in her paintings, and to document her paintings.

Grace and John Hudson, together with architect George Wilcox, set out to build a functional, custom, redwood Craftsman-style home scaled to the Hudsons’ needs. They built it just down the street from her parents’ home and the site of her first studio. The house was completed in 1911 and named “Sun House.” Fairly modest in size, it nonetheless accommodated Grace's prodigious artistic output and John's sizeable ethnographic collections. With the exception of short periods in Hawaii and Chicago, the bulk of Grace’s paintings and drawings, considered among the finest depictions of Native Americans in the world, were created in these neighbouring Ukiah studios. Now visitors can tour the Sun House, as well the Grace Hudson Museum, constructed in 1986 and expanded in 2001, which is located immediately behind the Sun House.

Did you know...?

Grace Hudson was an artist and a country girl; she enjoyed squirrel hunting.

SPECIAL RESOURCES

  • Over 60 of Grace Hudson’s 684 numbered oil portraits are on site, and hundreds of her drawings and sketches are in the Museum’s collections.

  • Over 1,000 early California photographs with an emphasis on the Mendocino County work of A.O. Carpenter (1836 – 1919) and Helen McCowen Carpenter (1838 – 1917), parents of Grace Hudson.

  • John Hudson’s ethnographic research materials focused on the Pomo Indian peoples and other California tribal groups.

  • An extensive collection of Pomo Indian basketry.

  • Archives relating to the Carpenter – Hudson family.

  • Carpenter - Hudson historic library of over 1000 volumes.

WHAT TO DO HERE

  • Take a tour of Sun House.
  • Enjoy changing exhibitions in the Museum featuring art, history, and anthropology.
  • Visit the permanent exhibition galleries displaying Hudson paintings, family history, and Pomo basketry.
  • Attend lectures.
  • Take gallery tours.
  • Visit the Museum Gift Shop.

YOU CAN ALSO SEE THE ART HERE:

  • Autry National Center, Los Angeles, CA
  • California Historical Society, San Francisco, CA
  • Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
  • Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum/Gatekeepers Museum, Tahoe City, CA
  • Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, CA
  • Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA
  • Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA
  • Santa Rosa Junior College Museum, Santa Rosa, CA
  • Shasta State Historic Park, Shasta City, CA
  • Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH
  • Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis, IN
  • Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, HI
  • National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D. C.
  • The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT