Tilden Daken–Artist and Adventurer
Famous in his day, Tilden Daken (1876-1935) was one of the most adventurous painters in the American West. His far-flung painting expeditions stretched from the rugged High Sierra to the depths of the Pacific Ocean in a diving bell. A fresco painter early in his career, he is known as the Painter of the Valley of the Moon, Painter of the Redwoods, Painter of the National Parks, the Key of Red Painter, the Submarine Painter, and painter of Mexican deserts. His deeply rooted passion for art, nature, color and music began as a child and remained until his last dying breath. He taught art classes throughout much of his life and penned short stories chronicling some of his most celebrated adventures. See His Short Stories
Born in Illinois and raised in Sacramento, his story begins and ends in California’s Mother Lode. He is buried in the historic Pioneer Cemetery in Georgetown, in Eldorado County.
This news article, written more than 90 years ago, speaks volumes about the artist’s adventurous life:
Few men have had such varied experiences as Tilden Dakin. Whether he was braving the Mexican war between Villa and Carranza, where he was wounded three times and once held prisoner for eight weeks, or “dancing around like a crazy man” to keep from freezing to death while painting the Piute Pass in midwinter; facing the unknown terrors of the ocean depths to secure true submarine views; tempting the headhunters of New Guinea or riding the brake beams with his friend Jack London—always he thought of his art and sought to put true pictures of the world around him on canvas. That he has succeeded is evidenced by the fact that his pictures may be found in Italy, Norway, Holland, Japan and Great Britain, as well as in all parts of our own country. And everywhere they have met with acclaim.
“Tilden Dakin to Make Music Key Paintings,” Berkeley Daily Gazette, October 6, 1927.