West coast decoys
For many years, many decoy aficionados tended to dismiss West Coast decoys as trivial contributions (and their carvers as trivial contributors) to North American decoy art because neither Joel Barber nor his best-known disciple, William Mackey Jr., mentioned these beautiful decoys in their 'definitive' books. East-coast snobbery aside, wooden decoys have been used for as long as the western part of North America has been settled and many West Coast carvers were active before the turn of the 20th century. Western red cedar was abundant in the Pacific Northwest. Redwood was the wood of choice in California. Near any of the ports and small bays down the coast, cork and balsa was also readily available. Decoy carving traditions developed at the major bays and their tidal wetlands from Puget Sound southward to the San Francisco Bay (Sonoma Creek south to Alviso). The Sacramento and San Joaquin River valleys and the Sacramento Delta region were prime wildfowling areas. The species carved and hunted were brant, bluebill, canvasbacks, Canada geese, green-winged teal, mallards, pintails, redhead, snow geese and widgeon. Collectible carvers of note are Charles Bergman, Joe and Ralph Cerruti, Tom Daily, Claude Kagee, Pappy Kidwell, Frank Mattie, Bill McClellan, Peter Norman, Burley Russell, Ed Snyder, Leo Tocchini and Ed Vidmar. The dean of the Pacific flyway carvers, Richard ('Fresh-air Dick') Janson carved honest, beautiful working decoys of redwood with simple tools at his home on an ark at the mouth of the Sonoma Creek where it flows into San Pablo Bay. Contemporary carvers Bill Goenne (King City) and Rob Capriola (Chico) carry on the fine tradition of carving working decoys in California.
STAN VATH GREATER WHITE-FRONTED (SPECKLEBELLY) GOOSE
LARRY ZALESKY DRAKE PINTAIL
Very early (C-1940) Drake Pintail by Larry Zalesky, Vallejo, CA. Constructed of solid carved redwood with a sugar pine head. Zalesky was a student of Fresh-Air Dick Janson and the Janson style is obvious. This particular decoy is from the notable "HOYT" rig and is stenciled as such. Excellent original paint protected under an old coat of varnish.
CONTACT JIM YOUNG firstname.lastname@example.org
Carver: Larry Zalesky