James C. Tunell - Words and Images From What's Left of the West

It doesn't take but a passing glance at the images contained in these pages to recognize that at their core rests a deep appreciation for the masterful works of Edward S. Curtis.

And it is not without cause, for not only did Curtis' images capture a time in the history of this country like no other in their chronicling of the Indian tribes of North America, but they accomplished an even more Herculean task when they captured the imagination of a young boy.

Growing up when I did, it wasn't hard to fall in love with the thought of being a cowboy, their images were everywhere...television, movies, toys...but that wasn't the case for the American Indian, at least they weren't portrayed as romantically."

"Yet many of my fondest and most vivid memories were staring endlessly at his (Edward Curtis') pictures..they took me to a far-off place I wanted to be."


Born in Los Angeles, but moving often, Jim's imagination has played out in many ways over the years, from days as a youngster playing in abandoned old west movies sets in the hills not far from his home outside Los Angeles, to his work as a photographer, journalist and screenwriter (a crap film released in 2007).

But through it all his passion for the West; its people and places; its cultures and history, has run strong.

My dad was a frustrated rancher...born and raised on a beautiful sprawling farm in New York and graduated from Oklahoma A & M.

The thing he most wanted to do was farm and ranch, but the only thing he loved more than that was my mother and this country. She and the Korean War forever derailed those plans. So in some small way, I guess I'm trying to honor his memory as much as I am that of Mr. Curtis."

Jim's first serious steps toward capturing the "vanishing west" were taken years ago when after a series of personal challenges he took an even more serious look at the realization, like everyone at some point, that "life is short" and why am I here?


The answer led to his moving to Arizona and undertaking a documentary on the cowboys of Fort Apache. A move he is forever grateful he made.

"My family's roots go back to the forty-niners of Sutter Creek which probably explains why I like have always found something so hugely powerful about the spirit of the West."

And whether it be fact or fiction, real or imagined, the reality is that The West has always conjured images of romance and independence, and in the process, luring more than its fair share of heroes and dreamers, wanderers and wayfarers.

"It's a magical combination and anyone who has spent any amount of time here knows there is still some of that left...and I'd like to help document that before it's gone forever."

It is with that spirit in mind, that Jim hopes to capture yet a few more images of a vanishing land so that another young mind, on a far off day, might too imagine a very special long ago place, if only through his pictures.