Friday, April 25, 2008

STORIES BEHIND THE PAINTINGS (Great Life Adventures of Norval Morrisseau) - Part I

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"THE SLEEPING GIANT", Thunder Bay, Ontario, © Richard Ogima
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NORVAL MORRISSEAU: ISLANDS WITHIN
By Denese Izzard, Gabriola SOUNDER
Friday, 25-March-2005
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From Thunder Bay, Manitoulin Island, Toronto, Jasper Alberta, Santa Fe, Vancouver to Nanaimo, Canada's national treasure, Norval Morrisseau born to power of place, found the power to be.
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Starting his venturesome life at Sandy Lake Reserve (born in Fort William, now Thunder Bay), the man known as father of "The Woodland School of Art" knew as a child that he was on a mission not to lose his people's culture. The artist's way would preserve it, defying tribal taboos against revealing sacred tales to the outside world.
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Mother Ojibway, father Métis, Morrisseau was raised in traditional manner by maternal grandparents. A medicine woman gave him the protective name, his now famous signature "Copper Thunderbird."
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Later like lightning before rumbling thunder, Norval would wield his paint brush on plywood panels, brown wrapping paper, and birchbark scrolls, making images come alive from stories passed down from shaman to shaman for thousands of years, told to him by his own grandfather, Shaman Moses "Potan" Nanakonagos, sixth generation Ojibway.
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Throughout his career, Norval would dream dreams and have visions. His astral travels took him to the House of Invention, his source of inspiration for both content and colour. There he learned that ions and electrons were an underlying force that radiated from a colourful palette - that colour therapy can cure people. With ancients as guides telling him that heaven is "as above, so below," images were brought through him and out of him. Yet he felt he was only an instrument.
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Morrisseau's art continued to reveal original designs and illuminate history with new information. "My art speaks and will continue to speak, transcending barriers of nationality, language and other forces that may be divisive, fortifying the greatness of the spirit that has always been the foundation of the Ojibwa people."
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In the 1950s, working in a gold mine in Cochenour, struggling to sell his work at the Fergie McDougal General Store, the artist was discovered by Dr. Joseph and Esther Weinstein. Amazed by Morrisseau's talent, they bought everything he painted while he was still employed at the gold mine. Then in 1962 art dealer Jack Pollock paid a visit to Beardmore, Ontario. Overwhelmed by Norval's canvases, an exhibit was planned for his Toronto gallery. A huge sensation, the show sold out.
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"SACRED BUFFALO WORSHIPPERS", 35"X52", c. 1964 © Norval Morrisseau /Collection of Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta/
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A few years later Norval's "Sacred Buffalo Worshippers" graced Calgary's Glenbow Museum, drawing rave reviews. It was unlike any art work that had been done before.
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One of Canada's most accomplished painters, Morrisseau has exhibited throughout North America, France, Germany and Norway. 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. A member of the Order of Canada and the Royal Canadian Academy of Art, Norval Morrisseau holds the eagle feather, the highest honour awarded by the Assembly of First Nations.
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Morriseau also caught the attention of the greats. Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall attended a show of his works at a solo exhibition at the Galerie St. Paul, in St. Paul-de-Vence, France (1969), where Chagall remarked, "Norval Morrisseau's work bears the hallmark of a Picasso of the north." A clear reference to the originality of the work and its break from hidebound precedents that had characterized native North American art.
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All considered, the mid-1980s were a difficult time for Canada's world famous artist who, after a failed business attempt, ended up on the streets of Vancouver.
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In 1987 he met Canadian-born Hungarian Gabor Vadas, a remarkable young man, who helped him to get back on track. Said Morrisseau, "He's the son I've been dreaming about for 20 years." He also became the artist's muse. Then Vadas met future French-Acadian wife, Michele. By the time sons Robin and Kyle arrived, Norval had a built-in family. In White Rock, living in a 2-storey home, Gabe built an artist's studio with skylights, stained glass door, and deck facing the waterfront. These years resulted in some of his best work.
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The internationally acclaimed painter has exhibited throughout North America, France, Germany and Norway. Internationally recognized at age 73, Norval Morrisseau is bound for immortality.
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Today his life fully lived, he resides in a Nanaimo carehome, relatively comfortable after a stroke and Parkinson's Disease confined him to a wheelchair. The Vadas' spend most every day with the nation's artistic treasure - going for drives in the country, walks on the sea wall, or at their home.
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Artistic royalty, nearly iconic, Morrisseau sits stoically in a large leather recliner, TV on. Not wanting to lean into his space, the writer kneels, dares to touch the hand of the Grand Shaman of the Ojibway. His deep brown eyes darken, rest on the stranger. Breaking the spell, Michele places a cup of coffee on his sidetable and sits down, opening an impressive album of Norval Morriseau paintings, vital to the screenplay she's working on.
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"THE FAMILY", c. 1990s, © Norval Morrisseau /Collection of Gabor and Michele Vadas/
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Featured on a wall is another dynamic work portraying "The Family" - Norval, Gabe, Michele and Robin. Michele says, "I wouldn't sell this painting for anything."
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Years ago Robert and Signe McMichael, founders of the McMichael Collection at Kleinburg, Ontario, invited Morrisseau to stay in Tom Tomson's cabin on their property. Michele recalls, "Before he died, McMichael said he believed that when Canada 'disappears,' Morrisseau will remain. I believe history will note that Norval will be better known than Picasso. He's more original."
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Source:
* Text - from "Gabriola SOUNDER" - Gabriola Island, BC Community Newspaper Website; Text addition/correction: Spirit Walker
* "Sacred Buffalo Worshippers" - from Exhibition Booklet "The Art of Norval Morrisseau and The Writings of Basil H. Johnston"; an exhibition presented in conjuction with Glenbow Museum's Summer 1999 theme "Powerful Images".
* "The Family" - from "Coghlan Art Studio & Gallery", Aldergrove, British Columbia, Canada

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

this image is protected by copright.
you have not been given permission to use this image.
please remove it now.

Spirit Walker said...

Anonymous wrote: “this image is protected by copright. you have not been given permission to use this image. please remove it now.”

Can the copyright owner e-mail be with the request at spiritwalker2008@gmail.com and I will gladly remove it from the post.

Thanks, SW

Anonymous said...

you have been advised to remove this image, your post confirms you have read my post.
copyright infringement is noted, action to follow.

Spirit Walker said...

The image removed on request of the copyright owner. If "anonymous" is the copyright owner I do apologize for using the image without permission.

It is noted in blog's disclaimer that NORVAL MORRISSEAU BLOG's content is for informational/educational purposes only. Writings on these pages could be removed on request of the stated author(s) only. This statement also applies to the posted digital images and/or photographs of the copyrighted material.

Also, the same image I had used on March 9th, 2008 (follow the link): http://norvalmorrisseau.blogspot.com/2008/03/norval-morrisseau-prints-i.html and I thought that if the copyright owner did not have any objections then that I could use it again. If the copyright owner would like me to remove the same image titled “The Family” from the posting of March 9th, 2008 also I will do it without any objections.

I assure you that my intentions were honourable.

Thanks, SW

Christian Morrisseau said...

I await to here anonymous rely to if he has copyrights

Spirit Walker said...

From now on any issues regarding copyrights will be acted upon only after receiving legitimate e-mails directly addressed to spiritwalker2008@gmail.com.

“Anonymous" had threatend: "You have been advised to remove this image, your post confirms you have read my post. Copyright infringement is noted, action to follow." better be careful next time due to the fact that current copyright owner(s) do allow me to use copyrighted images to be posted herein.

IMPORTANT NOTE: "All anonymous postings could still be posted but for them to be believed they need to be signed by the real legitimate name, otherwise all of the comments presented herein are to be considered for reference only and not to be take seriously by the Blog Master."

Megwetch, SW

Anonymous said...

Hello
Interesting comments.
What is the current standing regarding this issue?

Tony.D.
Thank you kindly.

Anonymous said...

I've read your responses regarding this blog's repeated and blatant copyright infringement including, but not limited to, the responses to an anonymous comment which warned the Blog Master that posting the image of 'Family" (from the private collection of Gabe and Michele Vadas) was an infringement when asked to remove it immediately.

I urge the Blog Master to confer with counsel on the matter. There is no requirement that the owner of said copyrights identify themselves when the copyright is already within the public domain.

In addition, the copyright was infringed regardless of said warning which was nothing more than a courtesy. Furthermore, I am confident counsel will also confirm that ignoring a fair warning is not defensible. Nor is ignorance of the law defensible.

Lastly, I am confident said counsel will furhter confirm that "Fair Dealing" exemptions DO NOT apply to this blog. In quoting the Canadian Intellectual Property Office's "A guide to Copyrights";

"The Copyright Act provides that any "fair dealing" with a work for purposes of PRIVATE study or research, or for criticism, review or news reporting is not infringement." (emphasis added)

This blog does NOT constitute as academic research under Fair Dealing. However, it is noted that the Blog Master is owner of several paintings experts deem to be of "questionable" origins thereby confirming an economic interest in promoting their authenticity.

Copyright Student

Richard Ogima said...

I don't the guy is making money of the images...he's just posting how one of the Ojibway people have impacted him and perhaps the world...free press is great!!! Thanks for posting one my pictures up there and including the name...sweet!

Richard Ogima