Julian Edward Itter

"Father of North Cascades National Park"

The natural beauty of Washington State is an artist's paradise.

One of the early twentieth century's premier artists called Spokane his home for a short while. Julian Edward Itter, internationally renowned for his Impressionism-style landscape paintings, came to Spokane in 1912 and resided here for more than a year. He had been contracted by the Milwaukee Railroad to produce a series of canvases of the Bitterroot Mountains as part of an advertising campaign to illustrate scenery along a proposed transcontinental line from Chicago through Spokane to Seattle. Julian established his studio here in the Review building during his stay. Aside from promoting fundraisers for the railroad, he hosted exhibits for various clubs at select venues including the Spokane Club. His shows featured not only the beautiful landscape of western Montana but his previous work of Washington State that made him famous.

Originally from Canada, Julian immigrated to the United States in 1898. Influenced by a childhood fascination with nature, he travelled southward from his home in Rossland, British Columbia to the state of Washington. Immediately, he fell in love with its diverse natural scenery. For four years, Julian travelled throughout the state and painted at several prominent areas: the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier (a national park and focal point for the Milwaukee Railroad), and the scablands of eastern Washington where he quickly developed a positive reputation from the state's artistic community. Julian deemed his adoptive state "an artist's paradise."

However, no region would have such a profound impact on his artistic career than the northern head of Lake Chelan. When he descended into this region, he was instantaneously transfixed by its array of forests, glaciers, waterfalls, valleys, and jagged mountain tops. Because of his status as a reputable painter, the Washington State delegation for the 1904 World's Fair to be taken place in St. Louis not only asked him to produce a series of masterpieces highlighting its scenery, particularly Lake Chelan, but to place him in charge of the state's art exhibit.

In 1906, Julian worked with outdoor groups and commercial clubs throughout the state to adopt resolutions for preserving a 300 square mile tract of land just above the northern head of Lake Chelan as a national park. Although he was able to generate support from businesses, he had to abandon his plan after residents from nearby towns sided with potential mining interests, not tourism, for their economic sustainability. Eventually, the Lake Chelan region would be preserved as part of a greater North Cascades National Park Service Complex in 1968. For his role as one of the first promoters of preservation in this region, Julian Itter would be known as "The Father of North Cascades National Park."

Despite this setback, his artistry continued to earn positive reviews from both viewers and critics alike. The Spokane Chamber of Commerce paid $30,000 for a set of his paintings. During a two year stay in Paris, Julian and his paintings were featured in art journals and newspapers throughout major cities in Europe.

Itter's stay in Spokane would also be his last years in Washington State. He was in the process of going back to Europe to further his artistic studies. However, on December 20, 1912, he fell outside the restaurant at the Davenport Hotel where he fractured several ribs and punctured a lung. After his recovery, Julian moved to New York City where he married his second wife, Gladys. With World War I ravaging Europe, he never returned to Europe to study art. Instead, he moved to Montana and later California where he became a gold and silver miner. Still, he kept a passion for both art and nature until he passed away 1967.

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