Monday, December 24, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)
"We Are All One in Spirit"



~MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL~

"Thank you Copper Thunderbird in the name of all of us influenced by the spirit of your people, the Great Ojibway, and colours that continue to sound louder than thunder."

Spirit Walker


- Canada Post Corporation used image of the above painting for the postage stamp that was issued on October 25th, 1990.

* The painting in this posting: "Virgin Mary with Christ Child and St. John the Baptist", 40"x32", © 1973 Norval Morrisseau /Collection of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, Indian Art Centre/

Sunday, December 23, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)
"We Are All One in Spirit"

NORVAL MORRISSEAU
Text: Gerald McMaster, December 14, 2007

Norval Morrisseau, called Miskwaabik Animiiki or Copper Thunderbird, passed into the spirit world on December 4, 2007, after having lived on this earth for 75 years. Born in northern Ontario, Morrisseau came to prominence in the early 1960s after a sold-out exhibition at Jack Pollock’s gallery in Toronto. The artist and the dealer first met while they were both living in the pulp-and-paper town of Beardmore in northwestern Ontario, where Pollock was teaching art classes. He was struck by Morrisseau’s original imagery of colourful mythological creatures, delineated by bold black lines and painted on local kraft paper. The painter’s focus on traditional iconography - recovered from ancient memory erased by government policies of acculturation - was first met with rebuke by his elders. Over the course of his life and work, in fact, Morrisseau unleashed in a subsequent generation of artists a torrent of possibility, giving them a visual language in which to express their identity, culture and history.
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In a recent tribute, Toronto artist Robert Houle, who was close friend of Morrisseau, wrote: "Norval, like all innovators, had made a trajectory to contemporary cultural theory, an idea I was not to understand until quite recently. It situated Norval at the centre of a cultural transformation, contemporary Ojibwa art. This legendary artist had created a visual language whose lineage included the ancient shaman artists of the Midiwewin scrolls, the Agawa Bay rock paintings and the Peterborough petroglyphs. As a master narrator, he had a voice that thundered like the sentinel of a people still listening to the stories told since creation.”
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Source: AGO Blog - Art Matters

* The painting in this posting: "Moose Dream Legend", 22"x30", © 1962 Norval Morrisseau /Collection of Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift of Procter and Gamble Canada Ltd., 1964/

Saturday, December 22, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)
"We Are All One in Spirit"
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"WE ARE ALL ONE IN SPIRIT"... Norval Morrisseau
Text: Mark A. Brennan (December 5th, 2007)
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There was some significant sad news today in the Canadian Art world that deserves a mention here. Norval Morrisseau died today aged 75. Morrisseau was significant in so many ways. He was the first Native Canadian artist to make a deep impression on the mainstream art scene in Canada. He basically paved the way for many Native Canadian artists to begin their road to self expression in the Canadian art world. He also defined a new movement in Canadian art that drew together nature and art in a form that had never been seen before. This new movement became known as the ‘Woodland’ school.

There is a wonderful quote from Morrisseau in which he says, “I am merely a channel for the spirit to utilize, and it is needed by a spirit-starved society." How true those words are today. I admire this great artist, his love for his traditional Ojibwa heritage and his stark paintings depicting nature and shaman storytelling have inspired my own work, not so much in style but certainly in motivation. Anyone who paints nature in any form can feel a bond of sorts with all things wild and it was this bond that Morrissea brought out of the Ojibwa nation to release into society by way of his art.

Morrisseau’s work can arguably be defined as the true Canadian art that was born of thousands of years of living close to the land, and in doing so he put down in his paintings the story of his people.

You can read more about Norval Morrissea at http://norvalmorrisseau.blogspot.com/.

Mark Brennan
Source: "THE WILDERNESS ART OF MARK BRENNAN" Blog
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* An art poster presented herein was from the Cardigan/Milne Gallery Art Exhibition of Norval Morrisseau works - Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1979

Friday, December 21, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)
"We Are All One in Spirit"
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ICONIC PAINTER NORVAL MORRISSEAU DEAD AT 75
First native artist to have solo show at National Gallery
Published: Tuesday, December 04, 2007
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CanWest News Service

TORONTO - Ojibwa painter Norval Morrisseau, one of Canada's most celebrated artists, has died at the age of 75.

Called "the Picasso of the North" by Marc Chagall, Morrisseau rose to prominence in the 1960s, the first aboriginal artist to achieve success in the mainstream art world. Last year he became the first aboriginal artist to have a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada.

Morrisseau, who suffered from Parkinson's disease, was an ailing old man in a wheelchair when he attended the 2006 gallery opening in Ottawa. But he was a young man in Beardmore, a northern Ontario mining town, when he was "discovered" by Jack Pollock, a Toronto art dealer, in 1962.

Pollock, hired by the province to teach art in northern communities, was working out of a one-room school when Morrisseau walked in.

"He was disgusting -- drunk and he had pissed his pants -- and he had a roll of birch bark and paper under his arm," Pollock wrote in his 1989 memoir. "He had heard this white teacher was up from Toronto and he wanted to show me his paintings."
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Pollock took one look and got goosebumps. "I knew he was a genius." Pollock gave Morrisseau his first show.

Born at Sand Point Reserve, near Beardmore, Ont., in 1932 - his age was always a mystery because of conflicting birth records -- Morrisseau, also called Copper Thunderbird, was a self-taught artist who combined elements from his Ojibwa heritage and European influences to originate the pictographic style, which became known as the Woodland or Anishnaabe School of Art.
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"I transmit astral plane harmonies through my brushes into the physical plane," reads a quotation from Morrisseau on the unofficial Web site www.norvalmorrisseau.com. "These otherworld colours are reflected in the alphabet of nature, a grammar in which the symbols are plants, animals, birds, fishes, earth and sky. I am merely a channel for the spirit to utilize, and it is needed by a spirit-starved society."

A shaman and a storyteller, Morrisseau inspired generations of native artists. His style was widely imitated and as prices for his work rose, so did the number of forgeries.

"Morrisseau reveals something of the soul of humanity through colour and his unique 'X-ray' style of imaging: Sinewy black 'spirit' lines emanate, surround, and link animal and human figures, and skeletal elements and internal organs are visible within their brightly coloured segments," said the National Gallery in its announcement of the exhibit last year titled Norval Morrisseau: Shaman Artist.

Ruth Phillips, an art historian who is compiling a catalogue of all of Morrisseau's known works, called the artist's death a huge shock.

"Norval Morrisseau bridged the historical tradition of his ancestors -- which ranged from ritual arts used in Shamanism ... to beautifully decorated clothing, painting on rocks -- to a new form of modern art expressed in drawings and prints. He also took oral traditions and transformed them into modern visual art."

Phillips remembers Morrisseau as a spiritual, warm and engaging man.

"He blazed a path that many young artists followed. He was a great role model for younger artists. His courage, in confronting the oppression, the attempt by government policy which began in the 19th century to silence and hasten the end of traditional indigenous knowledge, it took great courage to confront that. He was an extraordinary man."

Morrisseau's career and life were marked by artistic and commercial success, an Order of Canada, magical mystery tours reserved for the most powerful of shamans, sexual abuse by priests, alcohol and drug abuse, a libertine sex life ("I did everything under the sun"), jail time, brief patronage from the mob, periods of extreme poverty, estrangement from his seven children and, late in life, a happy, sober ending.

Morrisseau has been awarded honourary doctorates from McGill and McMaster universities and has received the eagle feather, which is the highest honour awarded by the Assembly of First Nations.

"Norval Morrisseau was the key figure at the centre of an Indigenous art movement in Canada in the 1960s that broke through stereotypes, racism and discrimination in that era,"said Assembly of First Nations national Chief Phil Fontaine in a statement on Tuesday. "He struggled to have his art shown in fine art galleries. And he succeeded."

In 1989, he was the only Canadian painter invited to exhibit at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris to mark the bicentennial of the French Revolution. In 2005 he was elected to the ranks of The Royal Society of Canada, a group of 1,800 distinguished Canadians selected by their peers for their outstanding contributions to the arts, natural and social sciences and the humanities.
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Most recently, Morrisseau, who stopped painting in 2002, received the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation.

A Morrisseau painting graced the cover of Bruce Cockburn's album Dancing in the Dragon's Jaws, which produced his breakthrough hit Wondering Where the Lions Are.

Earlier this year a highly public battle over Morrisseau's legacy erupted. Gabe Vadas, Morrisseau's companion and caregiver since the two met in the 1980s on the streets of Vancouver and unofficially adopted each other, became the spokesman for the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society, which has been fighting with the Morrisseau Family Foundation, headed by Morrisseau's son Christian, for the right to authenticate the artist's works.
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* The painting in this posting: "Spirit Fish", 22"x33", © 1979 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Thursday, December 20, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)
"We Are All One in Spirit"
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NORVAL MORRISSEAU DIES AT 75
Text: Peter Goddard, December 4th, 2007

Copper Thunderbird took flight today.

Norval Morrisseau, the great Canadian artist, died at Toronto General Hospital. He was 75. His death after a long and feisty battle with Parkinson's disease won't be the end of the gritty story of the great Anishinabe painter once called "the Picasso of the north" who signed his canvases "Miskwaabik Animiki" or Copper Thunderbird.

"I've always wanted to be a role model," he told the Star several years back, his words barely audible and slurred even then. "I've always wanted to stay an Indian. I wanted the little kids to know that."

They do.

"He certainly was a role model for me as an art student," said Greg Hill, curator of "Norval Morrisseau – Shaman Artist," the groundbreaking retrospective of the artist's work last year at the National Gallery in Ottawa, which is now at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York.

"He was the first aboriginal artist I was aware of. He will always have that kind of presence." A member of the Order of Canada, Morrisseau was the sole Canadian painter shown at Paris's Georges Pompidou Centre in 1989 as part of the French celebration of the bicentennial of the French Revolution.

He "spearheaded a cultural renaissance in First Nations arts and culture in the `60s," Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said in a statement today. "He taught us to be proud of who we are." Morrisseau appeared in Ottawa to be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation. "This is the highest honour we can bestow on our own," said Foundation CEO Roberta Jamieson.

She expects Morrisseau's life and art "will be the centerpiece" of the 15th annual Awards Show, March 7, 2008 at the Sony Centre in Toronto.

Morrisseau's dazzling debut show in Toronto that opened Sept. 12, 1962 at Jack Pollock's gallery instantly established the painter's reputation and led to a Time magazine story. "That was at a time when Canadian First Nations art didn't seem to exist," said Gerald McMaster, the leading First Nations historian and head of the Canadian collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

"Morrisseau's presence woke people up. He was the torchbearer. What he did and what he said – aside from his eccentricities – had enormous power and influence over several generations of artists."

Through the `70s and `80s, the painter's "eccentricities" – binge drinking and often a hand-to-mouth street existence – were the despair of his friends and buyers of his work who were uncertain of the authenticity of his paintings.

The artist admitted to this reporter in 2004 that he signed other artist's work "if they needed the money."

Yet surviving the mean streets in Vancouver and Toronto gave him the reputation for being indestructible. "You can't imagine he's actually gone," said a choked-up Hill.

Only a month ago, Morrisseau was taken in a van to A Space Gallery to show an exhibition. "And you could see he was very much alert," said McMaster. "There was a small crowd there moved to tears to see this great man."

Repeated heart problems weakened him noticeably over the past year, said Gabe Vadas, Morrisseau's companion and caregiver since the two meet in the `80s.

"He'd have a great day then he'd have a bad day," Vadas explained. "But he was getting worse."

"So now he's on the next part of his journey," said Jamieson. "We're going to celebrate that.
We're beaming pride through our tears."

Peter Goddard
Toronto Star
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* Detailed information about the painting in this posting unknown: "Serpent Speaks to Shaman", © 1978 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)
"We Are All One in Spirit"
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NORVAL MORRISSEAU, NATIVE CANADIAN ARTIST, IS DEAD
Text: Randy Kennedy
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Norval Morrisseau, also known as Copper Thunderbird, one of Canada’s most celebrated painters and an important influence in the development of North American indigenous art, died Tuesday (December 4th, 2007) in Toronto. He was thought to be 75, though his birth year has been listed as both 1931 and 1932.
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The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease, said the Assembly of First Nations, which represents Canadian Native tribes.
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Mr. Morrisseau, an Ojibwa (also called Anishnaabe or Chippewa) shaman, was one of the first native painters to adopt modernist styles to convey traditional aboriginal imagery and to have a crossover career in contemporary art. His style, which became known as Woodland or Legend painting, evoked ancient etchings from birch-bark scrolls and often used X-ray-like motifs: skeletal elements and internal organs visible within the forms of animals and people, and black spirit lines emanating from them.
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“Saturated with startling, often contrasting colors, such paintings appear to vibrate under the viewer’s gaze,” said the National Gallery of Canada, which organized a retrospective of Mr. Morrisseau’s work in 2006, the first solo show for a native artist in the institution’s history. It is now on view in Lower Manhattan through Jan. 20 at the George Gustav Heye Center, part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
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Of a 2001 New York show at the Drawing Center of Mr. Morrisseau’s drawings, made on sheets of paper towels while he was in jail in Canada in the late 1960s, Holland Cotter of The New York Times wrote: “The results aren’t ingratiating or beautiful. Like visionary work in many cultures, they’re aggressive, sometimes violent, as much about fearfulness as about transcendence.”
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Born Jean-Baptiste Norman Henry Morrisseau in northern Ontario, he was the eldest son in a family of seven and was raised, according to tradition, by his maternal grandparents. His grandmother was Catholic, and his grandfather, whom he described as his most important influence, was a shaman. Their discordant views formed the background for much of his early life and his development as a self-taught artist working between two worlds.
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He was believed to have been given his native name in his teens, when he became seriously ill. He said his life was saved by a medicine woman who renamed him, calling him Copper Thunderbird; a thunderbird is a powerful symbol in Ojibwa folklore.
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Mr. Morrisseau, who dropped out of school at a young age and lived much of his life in poverty even after becoming established, was known as a charismatic, often unpredictable figure in the art world. He frustrated dealers, sometimes calculating his paintings’ worth not by their quality but by the square inch ($3.55 at one point, according to a gallery owner). He battled alcoholism his whole life, and at a low ebb in the 1980s, living on Vancouver’s streets, was known to trade his work for liquor money.
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But after the tremendous success of his first exhibition in Toronto in 1962, he was also often prolific and showed his work around the world. Marc Chagall, who met him in Paris when both artists were having exhibitions there, compared him to Picasso.
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He is survived by numerous children and grandchildren. In his later years, as accolades piled up, his life became more orderly, and he continued to paint until 2002, when Parkinson’s left him unable to do so. In 2005 he was elected to the Royal Society of Canada. He was also awarded honorary doctorates from McGill and McMaster universities and received the highest honor awarded by the Assembly of First Nations, the eagle feather.
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“Why am I alive?” he said in a 1991 interview with The Toronto Star. “To heal you guys who’re more screwed up than I am. How can I heal you? With color. These are the colors you dreamt about one night.”
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Randy Kennedy

Source: The New York Times

* Detailed information about the painting in this posting unknown, © c. 1970s Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)
"We Are All One in Spirit"
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IN MEMORIAM - NORVAL MORRISSEAU
Text: Robert Houle
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Norval Morrisseau died yesterday at the Toronto General Hospital of complications from Parkinson's disease. Named after a powerful and fantastic celestial cultural hero in Anishnabe mythology, Norval was indeed Copper Thunderbird. Apart from the romantic and exotic resonance of this spiritual name, it also signified a cultural context with which his magnificent artistic output could be framed. I am honoured to have been asked to write a few words about this great artist, someone I considered neejee, a friend.
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It is my humble desire to acquiesce to this shaman who lived among us for a while and became a cultural revolutionary of great stature. His colourful and enigmatic imagery will continue to inspire us all, it will articulate the visual landscape of the Ojibway people he loved so much, and his art will find a voice in the polemics of contemporary art in our country. His legacy, through his art with its mythological elements, will always mesh with a multitude of colours to a particular end: emancipation, narration, resistance, prophecy and pride.
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Norval, whom I first met thirty years ago while doing a research paper commissioned by the Canadian Museum of Civilization, was both a mentor and a challenge. As a young Saulteaux from Manitoba, I originally found his subject matter familiar, but nonetheless, the illustration of mythology up to that moment had always been under the governance of shamanism. Needless to say, I was spellbound yet apprehensive of what Norval was sharing with the international viewing public and by the palette he used: charcoals and ochres, red and green oxides, black and white. I immediately referenced ceremonial and ritual art, something that had always been exclusive but made inclusive by Norval.
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We talked endlessly about understanding the truth about why we make art and his impromptu visits led to numerous discussions on world culture from an Anishnabe perspective. As speakers of the language, he, Ojibwa and me, Saulteaux, we met at a level where the esoteric issues of art making were never talked about, but rather we would focus on the practical problems of finding a market that would support our art or a future that would buttress our desire to tell the Anishnabe story. He was fun, helpful, and inspiring, qualities that contributed to a continuing relationship of respect and camaraderie, of being Anishnabec.
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Over the years, Norval popped in and out of my life, but was always close enough to know that he could drop by to continue talking about the knowledge acquired through his travels, whether physical or astral, in the afternoon or evening. His nonlinear storytelling allowed us all to travel along with him to uncharted worlds of history, music and art. I treasure those moments, for they remind me what a great person he truly was.
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The iconoclastic Morrisseau tableau is a sensuous interplay of paint, colour and image; a diorama delineated by the beginning of a cultural conceit based on mythology and art. Copper Thunderbird spoke of a cyclorama where people, animals, birds, fish, plants and demi-gods negotiated an existence over lands, highways, rivers and lakes.
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Norval, like all innovators, had made a trajectory to contemporary cultural theory, an idea I was not to understand until quite recently. It situated Norval at the centre of a cultural transformation, contemporary Ojibwa art. This legendary artist had created a visual language whose lineage included the ancient shaman artists of the Midiwewin scrolls, the Agawa Bay rock paintings and the Peterborough petroglyphs. As a master narrator, he had a voice that thundered like the sentinel of a people still listening to the stories told since creation. Indeed, for me, he invented an interior colour space where the imagination with its paradigms, viewpoints and methods was in complicity with the potent traditions of critique and resistance. He was a conjurer, orchestrating themes that offered a voyage into the spiritual, the fantastical and the outrageous.
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A Morrisseau painting is an articulation, a manifestation that verifies existence and formulates an identity completely intermingled with the past and the present. Its virtual space, invented by colour and content, is actually an inner space where mythology and reality are interchangeable. Despite his detractors and in spite of himself, Norval stood tall and unequivocal within the context and usage of the current art lexicon. The art of Norval Morrisseau is a beacon of post-colonial resistance and is unequalled in its originality - the true sign of an artist. Kitchi Meegwetch Norval, we will miss you.
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“Art is a circle, you’re inside or outside, by accident of birth.”
Manet
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Robert Houle, December 5th, 2007
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Robert Houle was born in St. Boniface in 1947. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Manitoba in 1972 and a Bachelor of Education from McGill University in 1975. A former curator of Contemporary Indian Art at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Houle has contributed significantly through his writing and curating to understanding of issues facing First Nations work in Canada. He currently lives and works in Toronto.
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* Detailed information about the painting in this posting unknown: "Salmon", © 1996 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Monday, December 17, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)
"We Are All One in Spirit"

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"He has been described as perhaps the greatest native artist who ever lived - a primal visionary who gave form to the Ojibway legends and myths told to him by his maternal grandfather Moses "Potan" Nanakonagos."
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Lloyd Dolha
/Writer for national native publication First Nations Drum/
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* The painting in this posting: "Shaman with Creator", 30"x24", © 1979 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Sunday, December 16, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)
"We Are All One in Spirit"

''He was a role model, visionary and seminal force throughout Native America and Canada. We were especially fortunate to have the great man himself present at the opening of his major retrospective, 'Norval Morrisseau: Shaman Artist,' at our New York City museum. Through his groundbreaking and vibrant works, he positioned his rich indigenous heritage squarely within modern art; a revolutionary and uplifting achievement that influences contemporary culture through today.''-

Kevin Gover, director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian-

Norval Morrisseau, also known by his Ojibwa name, Copper Thunderbird, died Dec. 4, 2007 in Toronto from complications of Parkinson's disease. He was 75. Morrisseau was one of Canada's most celebrated painters and an important influence in the development of North American indigenous art. He originated the pictographic style, which became known as ''Woodland Indian art'' or ''legend painting.'' The popularity of Morrisseau's work inspired younger Native artists in the late 1960s, and many artists later adopted his style exclusively. A retrospective of Morrisseau's work is now on view through Jan. 20 at the George Gustav Heye Center, part of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, in New York City.-

''This is a great loss for both the Native and artistic communities of the world. We are honored to have an exhibition of his powerful work on view at this sad time. As I walked through the galleries, I contemplated how his works have uplifted and inspired countless viewers and also have encouraged hundreds of Native artists to realize their own dreams.''

John Haworth, director of the Heye Center
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Text posted in "Indian Country Today" December 14, 2007
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* Detail from a photograph of Norval Morrisseau standing in front of a mural at the old Red Lake Indian Friendship Centre, 1960 /Red Lake, Ontario/

Saturday, December 15, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)
"We Are All One in Spirit"
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"Gaa wiin daa-aangoshkigaazo ahaw enaabiyaan gaa-inaabid."
("You cannot destroy one who has dreamed a dream like mine.")
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Anishnaabe proverb
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* Detailed information about the painting in this posting unknown, © 1970s Norval Morrisseau

Friday, December 14, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)
"We Are All One in Spirit"
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WE ARE ALL NORVAL'S CHILDREN
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When I first met Norval in Sandy Lake in 1970 he was 39 years of age. Harriet was tending to a summer cooking fire outside their two room home where there was a stack of paintings piled up about 24 cm high on a table in the corner. Norval hoisted up one of his toddlers and another child stood shyly between his legs. Norval was in great spirits as he chatted with his old friend, our pilot, Robbie Lavack who had brought him more paint supplies. Norval eagerly displayed his prodigious summer output which was on the brown kraft paper that Robbie had brought in a large roll from the Dryden Paper Mill. I was a student and had never heard of Norval Morrisseau but I could feel the greatness emanating from those sheets of paper. I stepped aside as Robbie and Norval talked business. Norval wanted to sell more works to help with his growing family and he wanted Robbie to help him. After about a half hour visit, we were gone.

I flew in and out with only a fleeting impression of Norval and Harriet’s life in the Sandy Lake community. Over the years I heard a lot more about the decade plus that Robbie and Norval spent interacting - one highlight of which was the art circuit which Robbie created for Norval and Carl Ray. Norval and his lovingly called “white eyes” pal were obviously very close.

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In 2004 I acted as the conduit to bring Robbie and Norval together again. Robbie flew in from Sweden for a touching meeting with Norval in his hotel room. We were with Norval for three pleasant hours together with Gabe and Michele Vadas. It was clear to me that as delighted as Norval had been with his children in 1970, he was now with Gabe and Michele. I sensed they were his ‘home’.

I went to the afternoon visitations for Norval Morrisseau on Dec. 6 and 7, 2007 where there was a lot of tension - something I found disturbing and ironic at the same time. It was disturbing because values in conflict are never easily resolved. It was ironic because through his art and his life, Norval has made us all his children.

I feel certain after having seen Norval look at his children in Sandy Lake in 1970 and in Toronto in 2004 with eyes of love that Norval’s spirit, hovering somewhere above St. Clair Avenue West and later Spadina, embraced us all.

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Angie Littlefield

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Source: http://angielittlefield.com
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* The painting in this posting: "Childlike Simplicity", 48"x28", © 1992 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Thursday, December 13, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)
"We Are All One in Spirit"

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"NORVAL MORRISSEAU"

Text: Selwyn Dewdney

'I am Norval Morrisseau have the Indian name Copper Thunderbird. I am a born artist.' So this thirty-year-old Ojibway introduces himself in the preamble to a personal collection of his people's folklore. A simple statement of fact, as anyone who views reproductions of his work may see.

In the spring of 1960, when a provincial police constable in the Red Lake area sent me samples of Morrisseau's paintings, done in school crayons and poster colour on kraft paper, I was excited but skeptical. During my field work for the Royal Ontario Museum recording Indian rock paintings in northwestern Ontario, I had run across another form of picture-writing, perhaps less than a century old, incised on birchbark for ritualistic purposes. Did this young Ojibway have access to a living pictorial tradition that I had been unaware of? How else could such sureness of form and style emerge?

That summer Red Lake was on my itinerary and I arranged to spend a solid afternoon interviewing Morrisseau. As a person he was impressive. Behind the quiet self-possession was a passion to establish the identity of his people, through his art, in the eyes of the non-Indian world. But - more remarkable - he clearly had no awareness of any source for his visual images outside of himself.'

My idea is, why I draw them,' to quote from the transcript of my interview, 'see, there's lots of stories that are told in Ojibway but that wasn't enough for me. I wanted to draw them - that's from my own self - my own idea what they look like.'

At the gold mine in Cochenour where he was then working he had struck up a friendship with the mine doctor, himself an amateur artist of some ability, Joseph Weinstein. Weinstein and his Paris-born wife were world travellers, with a collection of primitive art, and an ample art library. When I visited them the next day I leafed through the volumes of reproductions that Norval had seen. With few exceptions, the doctor and his wife told me, contemporary and classical western painting had appealed very little to him. Navajo and West Coast art, on the other hand, had made a strong impact, although without any visible influence on his painting. The last traces of any doubt that might have lingered vanished when they brought out their own collection of Morrisseau's paintings on birchbark. These owed nothing to any other art form. This was an artist who relied solely on his inner vision.

Later, it is true, he used some of the rock painting motifs that I had recorded, especially the Agawa rendering of that sinister spirit of troubled waters, the Great Lynx, Mishipizhiw. Occasionally, too, he would use any picture of an animal that interested him as a jumping-off point for a painting. But invariably these were transformed, with the sure instinct of the born artist, into highly personal concepts.

As a child Norval lived with his mother, grandfather and other relatives on a small reserve north of Macdiarmid and west of Beardmore on the shore of Lake Nipigon. There were no books. Magazines and newspapers were a rarity. The few pictures he saw were labels on food packages or canned goods, trademarks on guns and traps, or patterns on the cheap cotton goods the women wore. In ancient times there would have been totem signs or dream symbols painted, carved, or embroidered in porcupine quills, on many objects of common use. But all that had ceased long ago. As early as 1650 the first courieurs de bois penetrated the Nipigon country, and European trade goods began their swift erosion of native crafts. Morrisseau's childhood in the 1930s was centuries removed from the pre-contact modes of his ancestors.

His formal education, typically enough for Indian children of that time and place, was rudimentary and frequently interrupted. Two winters at the Indian residential school in Fort William were the only consistent schooling he was exposed to. At fifteen he left school with Grade Four standing to contribute his labour to the bare subsistence standards of his family. By this time he had moved to Beardmore, to a shack near the town dump, where in his late teens he could soften the edge of his growing hunger for knowledge puzzling his way through the pages of discarded books.

How was it possible for this youth to reach back to the old feelings, to conceive the images that would bear the unmistakable stamp of his people? How could this firm pride originate in a community relegated to the status of third class citizens, constantly reminded of this status and defeated by it? What was there about this lad that earned for him in a medicine woman's dream the combined names of a powerful spirit and the metal traditionally sacred to the Lake Superior Ojibway - Copper Thunderbird?

The answer surely lies in his childhood. Lying on the rough cabin floor on a winter night he would listen to his grandfather's voice, rising and falling through the darkness in the flowing cadences of the Ojibway tongue. His grandfather, reminiscing over the tales his grandfather had learned from even more remote ancestors. Of Nanabozho or Ouiskaychauk and his mischievous tricks or breath-taking exploits, of Wendigo the spine-chilling cannibalistic ice spirit, of shaking-tents and conjuring, of the noseless, fur-faced men who paddled their stone canoes into the solid rock where the pictographs were painted. Today the bond between Norval and his grandfather remains a living bridge into the Ojibway past. Here through the spoken word, though so much of that past has been lost, a wealth of imagery, humour and wisdom remains. There are blue eyed, heavily bearded men in the Nipigon country today whose only tongue is Ojibway. And though Morrisseau's origins may be more than a quarter French (he speaks none) the magic of the living past has made him, like them, wholly Ojibway in identity.

Late in Norval Morrisseau's teens this identity demanded an outlet. He filled the cabin with pictorial versions of the characters in his grandfather's tales. But soon there were doubts and misgivings. This young man had a powerful name - was this some kind of conjuring? The ancient taboos asserted their strength, and Norval stopped painting. Of the years that followed Norval says only that they were 'bad'. In his twenty-sixth year he was referred for treatment to the tuberculosis sanatorium in Fort William.

His year at the sanatorium was decisive. Sick and separated from his family, suspicious of the 'white' man's medicine, he had the significant dream which in the old days each young Ojibway male fasted in seclusion to experience. Now he had the assurance that he could break the ancient taboos with impunity, protected day and night from the hostile power of the legendary spirits that periodically had threatened to possess him. In a fellow patient, Harriet, he found the woman he felt would make an ideal mother for his children. They married a year later and moved into the company house at Cochenour provided by the mine where Norval had found employment.

For two years he devoted all his spare time to painting, and writing about, the legendary figures of his people and the more personal symbols of his dreams. Then came a grant for artists' materials from the Indian Branch, followed closely by a donation from Allister Grosart and Ottawa friends that enabled Morrisseau to give full time to his art. Last summer his chance encounter in Beardmore with Jack Pollock, artist-owner of the Pollock Gallery in Toronto, brought about his first one-man show, critical acclaim, and a dramatic pre-opening sellout. Now that Norval Morrisseau has been accepted into the mainstream of Canadian art, how shall we evaluate him? Is his work anything more than a fascinating novelty, blown up beyond its merits by the picturesqueness of its subject matter? Is it an expression of the new realism, surrealist in essence without the psycho-analytic pretensions of that movement? Should we label it, along with Eskimo sculpture and graphics, as primitive?'

Today,' writes Morrisseau, 'we wonder and are distracted by the white man's ways that we cannot cope with. Those of us who are lucky have made it. But a lot of us are still behind, by trying to live like our white brothers and their religion, ignoring our great ancestors' culture. If one has an intelligent mind we could live side by side with our ancient ways and same time get us where we should be.'

In his tortured efforts to reconcile the skepticism of a superior intelligence with the fantasies of his people's folklore, to be a leader of his people without raising himself above the humblest of them, to give proudly from the richness of his heritage and yet open his mind to the truths that lie buried in the bewildering complexities of the dominant culture, Morrisseau is as contemporary as space travel or anti-matter. I have seen him at times torn apart and made desperate with doubt. I have also seen him serene in an upsurge of power that issues from each fresh resolution of his inner agonies.

This is no ordinary man. And I predict, whatever label we may finally bestow on his work, he will continue to produce extraordinary paintings.

© Selwyn Dewdney

/Canadian Art #83, Jan. - Feb. 1963./

* Still image from "The Paradox of Norval Morrisseau" - film by NFB © 1974

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)

"We Are All One in Spirit"-


SEVEN GIFTS FROM SEVEN GRANDFATHERS
The Anishnaabe Teachings cited from the Mishomis Book


1. To cherish knowledge is to know wisdom.

2. To know love is to know peace.

3. To honor all creation is to have respect.

4. Bravery is to face the foe with grace.

5. Honesty in facing a situation is to be honorable.

6. Humility is to know yourself as a sacred part of creation.

7. Truth is to know all of these things.

- Each person must find the delicate balance that lies in living in harmony with all creation.--

* The painting in this posting: "Young Ojibway Indian Man with Eagle Headdress", 52"x28", © 1992 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)
"We Are All One in Spirit"
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TEACHINGS OF THE SEVEN PROPHETS: THE SEVEN FIRES*

Seven prophets came to the Anishinabe. They came at a time when the people were living a full and peaceful life on the North Eastern coast of North America. These prophets left the people with seven predictions of what the future would bring. Each of the prophecies was called a fire and each fire referred to a particular era of time that would come in the future. Thus, the teachings of the seven prophets are now called the "Seven Fires".

The first prophet said to the people,

"In the time of the First Fire, the Anishinabe nation will rise up and follow the sacred shell of the Midewiwin Lodge. The Midewiwin Lodge will serve as a rallying point for the people and its traditional ways will be the source of much strength. The Sacred Megis will lead the way to the chosen ground of the Anishinabe. You are to look for a turtle shaped island that is linked to the purification of the earth. You will find such an island at the beginning and end of your journey. There will be seven stopping places along the way. You will know the chosen ground has been reached when you come to a land where food grows on water. If you do not move you will be destroyed."

The second prophet told the people,

"You will know the Second Fire because at this time the nation will be camped by a large body of water. In this time the direction of the Sacred Shell will be lost. The Midewiwin will diminish in strength. A boy will be born to point the way back to the traditional ways. He will show the direction to the stepping stones to the future of the Anishinabe people."

The third prophet said to the people,

"In the Third Fire the Anishinabe will find the path to their chosen ground, a land in the west to which they must move their families. This will be the land where food grounds on water."

The Fourth Fire was originally given to the people by two prophets. They come as one. They told of the coming of the light skinned race.

One of the prophets said,

"You will know the future of out people by the face of the light skinned race wears. If they come wearing the face of brotherhood then there will come a time of wonderful change for generations to come. They will bring new knowledge and articles that can be joined with the knowledge of this country. In this way, two nations will join to make a mighty nation. This new nation will be joined by two more so that four will for the mightiest nation of all. You will know the face of the brotherhood if the light skinned race comes carrying no weapons, if they come bearing only their knowledge and a hand shake."

The other prophet said,

"Beware if the light skinned race comes wearing the face of death. You must be careful because the face of brotherhood and the face of death look very much alike. If they come carrying a weapon ... beware. If they come in suffering ... They could fool you. Their hearts may be filled with greed for the riches of this land. If they are indeed your brothers, let them prove it. Do not accept then in total trust. You shall know that the face they wear is one of death if the rivers run with poison and fish become unfit to eat. You shall know them by these many things."

The fifth prophet said,

"In the time of the Fifth Fire there will come a time of great struggle that will grip the lives of all native people. At the waring of this Fire there will come among the people one who holds a promise of great joy and salvation. If the people accept this promise of a new way and abandon the old teachings, then the struggle of the Fifth Fire will be will be with the people for many generations. The promise that comes will prove to be a false promise. All those who accept this promise will cause the near destruction of the people."

The prophet of the Sixth Fire said,

"In the time of the Sixth Fire it will be evident that the promise of the First Fire cam in in a false way. Those deceived by this promise will take their children aways from the teachings of the Elders. Grandsons and granddaughters will turn against the Elders. In this way the Elders will lose their reason for living ... they will lose their purpose in life. At this time a new sickness will come among the people. The balance of may people will be disturbed. The cup of life will almost become the cup of grief."

At the time of these predictions, many people scoffed at the prophets. They then had medicines to keep away sickness. They were then healthy and happy as a people. These were the people who chose to stay behind in the great migration of the Anishinabe. These people were the first to have contact with the light skinned race. They would suffer most.

When the Fifth Fire came to pass, a great struggle did indeed grip the lives of all native people. The light skinned race launched a military attack on the Indian people throughout the country aimed at taking away their land and their independence as a free and sovereign people. It is now felt that the false promise that came at the end of the Fifth Fire was the materials and riches embodied in the way of life of the light skinned race. Those who abandoned the ancient ways and accepted this new promise were a big factor in causing the near destruction of the native people of this land.

When the Sixth Fire came to be, the words of the prophet rang true as children were taken away from the teachings of the Elders. The boarding school era of "civilizing" Indian children had begun. The Indian language and religion were taken from the children. The people started dying at a early age ... they had lost their will to live and their purpose in living.

In the confusing times of the Sixth Fire, it is said that a group of visionaries came among the Anishinabe. They gathered all the priests of the Midewiwin Lodge. They told the priests of the Midewiwin Way was in danger of being destroyed. They gathered all the sacred bundles. They gathered all the scrolls that recorded the ceremonies. All these things were placed in a hollowed out log from the Ironwood tree. Men were lowered over a cliff by long ropes. They dug a hole in the cliff and buried the log where no one could find it. Thus the teachings of the Elders were hidden out of sight but not out of memory. It is said that when the time came that the Indian people could practice their religion without fear a line boy would dream where the Ironwood log, full of sacred bundles and scrolls, was buried. He would lead his people to the place.

The seventh prophet that came to the people long ago said to be different from the other prophets. He was young and had a strange light in his eyes. He said,

"In the time of the Seventh Fire New People will emerge. They will retrace their steps to find what was left by the trail. Their steps will take them to the Elders who they will ask to guide them on their journey. But many of the Elders will have fallen asleep. They will awaken to this new time with nothing to offer. Some of the Elders will be silent because no one will ask anything of them. The New People will have to be careful in how they approach the Elders. The task of the New People will not be easy.

"If the New People will remain strong in their quest the Water Drum of the Midewiwin Lodge will again sound its voice. There will be a rebirth of the Anishinabe Nation and a rekindling of old flames. The Sacred Fire will again be lit.

"It is this time that the light skinned race will be given a choice between two roads. If they choose the right road, then the Seventh Fire will light the Eighth and final Fire, an eternal fire of peace, love brotherhood and sisterhood. If the light skinned race makes the wrong choice of the roads, then the destruction which they brought with then in coming to this country will come back at them and cause much suffering and death to all the Earth's people."

Traditional Mide people of Ojibway and people from other nations have interpreted the "two roads" that face the light skinned race as the road to technology and the other road to spiritualism. They feel that the road to technology represents a continuation of headlong rush to technological development. This is the road that has led to modern society, to a damaged a seared Earth. Could it be that the road to technology represents a rush to destruction? The road to spirituality represents the slower path that traditional native people have traveled and are now seeking again. This Earth is not scorched on this trail. The grass is still growing there.

The prophet of the Fourth Fire spoke of a time when
"two nations will join to make a mighty nation."
He was speaking of the coming of the light skinned race and the face of brotherhood that the light skinned Brother could be wearing. It is obvious from the history of this country that this was not the face worn by the light skinned race as a whole. That might nation spoken of in the Fourth Fire has never been formed.

If the Natural people of the Earth could just wear the face of brotherhood, we might be able to deliver our society from the road to destruction. Could we make the two roads that today represent two clashing world views come together to form a mighty nation? Could a Nation be formed that is guided by respect for all living things? Are we the people of the Seventh Fire?
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* The source for this story is The Mishomis book : the voice of the Ojibway by Edward Benton-Banai. Printed in St. Paul, Minn. Published by Indian Country Press, copyright 1979.
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- The painting in this posting: "Energy of Home", 14"x18", © 1976 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Monday, December 10, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)
"We Are All One in Spirit"
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NORVAL MORRISSEAU FOUND A PARIS SALON IN THE BOREAL FOREST
Remembering the Ojibway painter's early start in the mining town of Cochenour, Ontario
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One of the most unlikely and fruitful encounters in Canadian art history took place just up the hill from the street I grew up on in Cochenour, a lakeside mining town in northwestern Ontario. It happened in 1957 or 1958, before my time, in the doctor’s house, just across from the post office. The town doctor at that time was Joseph Weinstein, who, along with his wife, Esther, had only a few years earlier been living in Paris, where they hung out with leading avant-garde artists, writers, and intellectuals. Joseph painted abstracts and Esther had studied languages at the Sorbonne.

But it was in Cochenour, a long way from Montparnasse, that the couple made a lasting contribution to art. There they met a young Ojibway man named Norval Morrisseau who was struggling to become a painter. Esther saw something arresting in his early efforts. They helped him. As art historian Ruth Phillips recounts in her catalogue essay for last year’s National Gallery of Canada exhibition Norval Morrisseau: Shaman Artist, the Weinsteins gave Morrisseau high-quality artist’s paper and paints, and some pointers on technique. Perhaps more importantly, they invited him to pore over the collection of art books they had brought with them to the little doctor’s house, exposing his hungry eye to ancient and modern paintings, and, intriguingly, to other indigenous art.

What an intersection: Morrisseau steeped in his grandfather’s tales from Ojibway legend, the Weinsteins in the European art tradition. There were to be many other chapters, of course, in the Morrisseau saga, which ended this week with the grand old painter’s death at 76. But I’ve been thinking about his good fortune in that initial real exposure to the world of art that he was desperate to conquer. Far too often, to my mind, discussion of First Nations art concentrates on themes of racism and paternalism. It’s worth remembering, as we consider Morrisseau’s remarkable career and substantial legacy, that his first important and formative experience with white people who cared deeply about art was apparently entirely sympathetic without being, by the accounts I’ve heard and read, at all condescending.

Lucky Morrisseau. Lucky Weinsteins. The greatest nascent artistic talent on the Canadian Shield finds his way into the only Paris-influenced salon in the entire boreal forest—what were the odds? But unique as their relationship was, the pattern it represents is not so unusual. The repeated cross-pollination of Aboriginal and Western art traditions was one of the most important elements in 20th-century cultural history in Canada. And it was not a matter of exploitation, at least not in the case of Morrisseau or the other First Nations art success stories that rank with his, notably the way Inuit and West Coast styles worked their way into our popular conception of a Canadian visual art heritage.

Consider the way Inuit sculpture and then prints became ubiquitous. James Houston shows up in Inukjuak with his sketch books in 1948, not long away from painting live models in art classes in London and Paris. Within days, a small carving of a caribou is pressed into his hand. And that leads to him becoming a sort impresario for Inuit art, encouraging the carvers to make bigger sculptures and getting the finished product to big-city galleries down south. Later he brings Japanese print-making technique to Cape Dorset. We’re so used to them now that it’s hard to recapture the proper sense of amazement at the way it all worked out: a white guy shows Inuit artists how to use Asian methods, and the outcome seems perfectly natural—and eminently marketable.

Then there’s Bill Reid. He didn’t know anything about his First Nations heritage until he was a teenager (his mother was Haida). He trained in the very European tradition of jewellery-making and engraving. Yet his personal discovery and exploration of his Aboriginal side led directly to a Haida art renaissance and our national recovery of that incomparably rich patrimony. Robert Bringhurst, an American-born poet and translator, has brought us great literature to go with Reid’s memorable sculpture, through his acclaimed translations of Haida mythic poetry.

These stories all have their own texture and details, but they share something crucial, and somewhat controversial among those who believe majorities can only oppress minorities. In all these cases, the dominant stream of Western art, through the agency of inspired individuals who live by its values, found ways to see Aboriginal art, revere it, absorb it, and help transmit its essence to a very wide and receptive audience. We love the sinewy black lines and flat fields of colour in Morrisseau’s Woodlands school, the accessible Arctic images of Inuit prints and sculpture, the elegant form lines of Haida image-making. We also, it must be admitted, snap up Eskimo kitsch, third-rate Morrisseau rip-offs, and plastic Made-in-China totem poles.

But on Morrisseau’s death, I’m resolved to leave the evident shortcomings in the way First Nations art has been turned into our national art for another day’s reflection. And I’m going to try not to dwell unduly on the stories about curators who belittled his paintings or relegated them to museums of anthropology, rather than their proper place in galleries of fine art. Instead, I’m imagining him as a tall young man in the home of the Weinsteins, with all those art books around him, and all his own great art still to come.

John Geddes
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* The painting in this posting: "Serpent", 9"x6", © 1964 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)

"We Are All One in Spirit"



ARIST REMEMBERED AS "GREAT SHAMAN"
Painters pledge to honour legacy of `Picasso of the North' by starting a native art school in his memory.

Friends, family and fans of the late Norval Morrisseau gathered last night (Dec. 8th, 2007) to pay tribute to the Canadian artist who took native art and put it on the world stage in vibrant colour.
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In a small auditorium in downtown Toronto, native elder Vern Harper and others who knew Morrisseau from his days as an artist living hand-to-mouth on the streets of Toronto spoke of the man heralded as "the Picasso of the North" as a spirited individual, well loved by all who knew him.
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"Everyone recognized him as a great artist, but he was more than that. He was a great shaman. There won't be one like him in a thousand years," said Harper. "Just being in his presence when he was at his best or at his worst was a great honour."

Morrisseau, 75, died Tuesday (Dec. 4th, 2007) at Toronto General Hospital after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. Harper, a long-time friend of Morrisseau, was joined by two artists who had been mentored by the experienced painter.
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One of those artists, Richard Sinclair, said it's unfair for the media to "lift him up here and they put him down there," in reference to Morrisseau's reputation as the most influential native artist of his generation, as well as a troubled alcoholic.

Sinclair and fellow painter Brian Marion vowed last night to honour Morrisseau by starting a native school of art in his memory. They hope to incorporate Morrisseau's native name, "Miskwaabik Animiki," which translates to Copper Thunderbird, into the school's name.

"From an artist's perspective, (his legacy) is just starting now," Sinclair said. "All of us will be long gone and what he did is just going to keep growing."

The traditional memorial featured native dance, singing, the smoking of a prayer pipe and managed, for the most part, to avoid the recent controversy over what should come of Morrisseau's remains.

Christian Morrisseau, the artist's youngest son and one of his seven children, insists his father's remains should be brought back to a reserve near Thunder Bay where the artist's estranged wife is buried. Meanwhile the artist's brother wants his ashes to be spread over Lake Nipigon.
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What exactly his wishes were remain open to interpretations.

"Norval always knew that this was not his home and that he would go home sometime and now he's going home," said Harper. Regardless of the controversy, Christian affirmed yesterday that his love for his father is "unconditional." "I have to say although he really wasn't there for me as I grew up, I've learned who my father was through books, through my sister and through my mother as well," he said.


Brett Popplewell
Staff Reporter
www.thestar.com
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* The painting in this posting: "Great Wasakajak", 26"x25", © 1979 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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Le Picasso du Nord s'éteint

L'artiste et chaman ojibwé Norval Morrisseau, surnommé Oiseau-Tonnerre de cuivre, a rendu l'âme mardi matin à l'hôpital général de Toronto. Atteint de parkinson, il était âgé de 75 ans.

Originaire du Nord de l'Ontario, il est considéré comme un des artistes canadiens les plus importants. En 50 ans de carrière, le peintre autodidacte s'est gagné une réputation internationale. Ses peintures, dessins et gravures de facture contemporaine tiraient leur inspiration de sa culture anishnaabe.

Il a inventé "un style pictographique utilisé maintenant par trois générations d'artistes autochtones", lit-on dans une fiche biographique qui lui est consacrée dans le site web du Musée des beaux-arts du Canada (MBAC). Les millions de visiteurs de l'Exposition universelle de 1967, à Montréal, se rappelleront de son oeuvre murale créée en hommage aux Amérindiens et exposée au pavillon du Canada. En 1989, des Français le surnomment le Picasso du Nord lors d'une exposition présentée au Centre Pompidou, à Paris.

Norval Morrisseau est né en 1932 dans la réserve de Sand Point, dans le Nord ontarien. Membre d'une famille de sept enfants, il apprend la cosmologie anishnaabe de son grand-père chaman et le christianisme de sa grand-mère catholique, précise le site du MBAC. Il étudie son patrimoine ojibwé et devient chaman.Il travaille dans les mines au moment où il crée ses premières oeuvres. Au cours des années 60, il se consacre à son art à temps plein. "Conjuguant de riches couleurs, il représente des réalités intérieures par de fortes lignes fluides qui souvent indiquent des forces spirituelles", souligne la même source.

Au fil de sa carrière, Norval Morrisseau a été reçu membre de l'Ordre du Canada et de l'Académie royale des arts du Canada. L'artiste est également devenu titulaire de la Plume d'aigle, ultime honneur accordé par l'Assemblée des Premières Nations.
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* The painting in this posting: "Untitled", 30"x22", © c. 2000 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/