Saturday, January 31, 2009

Morrisseau History Detective Stories (Part III)

-
- 1970's PERIOD-

-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-

"Ancestral Spirit with Evil Serpent", © 1977 Norval Morrisseau

An authentic painting by Norval Morrisseau not given the recognition it deserved in the 'National Post' article:
"Morrisseau fakes alleged" /National Post, May 18th, 2001/.


BLOG MASTER'S COMMENT:
-
"These 'controversies' which have involved Norval Morrisseau's art have been caused by individuals and galleries who/which were closely associated with the artist. These few people began spreading 'false statements' that paintings of a certain style were not done by Norval Morrisseau's hand. Particularly those paintings from the 1970's presented on this blog and that have been offered for sale for more than 'three decades' in galleries all across Canada without question.
-
They have been trying unsuccessfully 'to harness' the secondary market by slandering 'one of Norval Morrisseau's greatest periods of art' which either came out in the late 1960's, 1970's and early 1980's. They mentioned in their 'last major publication' that 1980's were turbulent years for Norval Morrisseau and that his productive life was seriously interrupted by bouts of desctructive alcoholism causing his artistic productivity to be 'next-to-nothing' during these periods - to further their agenda of 'selling later Morrisseau period art' predominantly coming from the late 1980's and 1990's which they hold large inventory stock.
-
By discrediting this large body of work done by the late Norval Morrisseau shows us all that a great 'disrespect' to the artist and his legacy has occured and 'their actions cannot be tolerated'. Legal actions are well underway with positive outcomes to be anticipated soon." -
Note: Norval Morrisseau painted thousands of paintings in the 1980's which proves that his artistic productivity was not 'next-to-nothing' during these periods. Many of these paintings have been presented on the NORVAL MORRISSEAU BLOG since its inception in November 2007.
-
Spirit Walker

->>>Reference postings:
Justice for Norval Morrisseau Found. -
-
-* The painting in this posting: "Ancestral Spirit with Evil Serpent", 58"x37", © 1977 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Friday, January 30, 2009

Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part VII)

-
- Arthur Shilling (1941 - 1986)
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
--
"Untitled", © Arthur Shilling
-
-
It's hard to imagine a U.S. President being approached by any artist to write a forward to a book of his paintings, being produced as a children's book. Though I can imagine some staffer being assigned the task for a really pop artist, of so plastic a turn his images would offend no important voter bloc. Painter of one of the government duck stamps, perhaps. I can't imagine any U.S. politician writing "I had no idea that we would have lost him within a period of weeks. What a great loss!" Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien wrote that in his foreward to this book. "Canada and the native peoples will be better off because Arthur Shilling was with us even for such a brief period of time."
-
I don't think much of politicians as art critics, but provide this to illustrate to U.S. citizens that the proudly profound ignorance enacted by nearly all stations of American society does not prevail everywhere in the world. In other countries, even Top Politicians occasionally read a book they don't have to or look at an artwork even when they aren't putting on an act for voters.

-
Arthur Shilling was born into a family of thirteen children on the Ojibwa Rama Reserve near Orillia, Ontario. All of Shilling's paintings are of people, in this book, mostly head and shoulders or part-body individual portraits. Even calm ones, expressing pride in Indian existence, usually convey pain, subconscious or overridden, occasionally agonized. Though he went to art school, Shilling rejected what was taught, developing his own style that uses broad areas of color, slightly reminiscent of abstract expressionism, though the only abstractions here are occasionally found in emotive backgrounds. The focus is always the person, usually the eyes and what's behind the eyes.

-
"Most people I paint don't like themselves. I try to reveal the spiritual soul, the quietness that makes us different, that no other nation or people have." Because it was bought with centuries of suffering. But "Our souls and hearts can heal, and a new togetherness make our people proud, and in harmony again with the land."

-
Most of Shilling's meditations -- poetic and philosophic -- are about his art, its absolute necessity to him: "When I was born, mother earth was bleeding. That's when I started to see color....At one point, everything was color. There was no line, no division, between colors. For a time I was frightened that there was no form. But then I saw form was coming from within." Although "there is not enough color to subdue the shadows within me." And: "I can't forgive my colors for their harsh treatment of my tender thoughts, my dreams."

-
His inner shadows were dark. Born in 1941, Shilling was never physically strong. He first underwent open heart surgery in 1975. He felt that all his time was borrowed time. His meditations are elegies, as if looking back from the other side of death, though "death will not put this fire out." The meditations are brief, a few short sentences to each page that faces a full-page portrait. Children may understand some of them, but adults will not be able readily to disengage, to forget.

-
Don't lose the dust jacket when you get this powerful book for yourself and school library. It has a self-portrait of Shilling that is not included in the book. I am angry at the publishers for defacing it with their product barcode. The designer is an idiot, there was plenty of room for that gross triviality on the jacket's plain frame, leaving the portrait unmarred.

-
Paula Giese-
-
Note: Arthur Shilling was the subject of a National Film Board of Canada documentary and the author/illustrator of "The Ojibwa Dream" a book published after his death in the Spring of 1986.
-
Source: Text & Image: Native-Online ; Note: Native Art in Canada - An Ojibwa Elder's Art and Stories
- -
>>>Reference posting: Honouring the Great Ojibway (Part I)
---------------------------------/Information about Paula Giese/--
-
* The painting in this posting: "Untitled", 34"x28", © Arthur Shilling

Sacred World of Norval Morrisseau (Part XI)

-
- 1960's PERIOD-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-

-
-
-
-
- -
-
-
-
"The Great Moose", © 1960s Norval Morrisseau
-
-

"These paintings only remind you that you're an Indian. Inside somewhere, we're all Indians. So now when I befriend you, I'm trying to get the best Indian, bring out the Indianness in you to make you think everything is sacred."
-
Norval Morrisseau
-
-
* The painting in this posting: ""The Great Moose", 32"x56", © c. early 196os Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Norval Morrisseau Aquatics (Part VII)

-
- 1970's PERIOD
-

-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-


-
-- -
-

"Salmon", © 1970s Norval Morrisseau
-
-
"People had to be stripped of their culture before they could be taught to be civilized. The Natives of the Americas were not the dogs people were misled to believe, but rather a sophisticated network of different cultures, religions and so on."
-
Norval Morrisseau
-
-
* The painting in this posting: "Salmon", © c. 1970s Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Childlike Simplicity XIII

-
- 1980's PERIOD
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
- -

-

-

-

-

-

-
-

-
-
-
-
© 1980s Norval Morrisseau
-
-
"The Shaman Artist
Wishes to express to us
Through
The art form
That we are all
Like children
-
Our childlike simplicity
With dignity and sweet humility
We view
One environment
and
Remind us of the Pure Spirit
Expressing itself upon ourselves."
-
Norval Morrisseau, 1983
-
-
* The painting in this posting: "Title not known", © c. 1980s Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part VI)

-
- Roy Thomas (1949 - 2004)
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
- -
-
"Untitled", © Roy Thomas
-
-
Foreword: ROY THOMAS - "The Spirit of Ahnishnabae Art" - A Gallery Edition
-
In the sixth decade of twentieth century Canada a number of Aboriginal artists emerged from the forests, reserves and isolated villages. Long oppressed and marginalized by the values and inaccurate perceptions held in western culture this vanguard of artists made their way into the mainstream and the hearts of a wide range of art patrons in the nation. For most of these native artists this cross-cultural journey from forest life would be confusing, difficult and too often tragic. The treacherous path between the Aboriginal world and an industrial one was filled with danger. From an aboriginal culture that was a sharing one, set in a timeless world and full of intimate relationships with animals and the mother earth, these young men and women made their way. Roy Thomas, born in the boreal forest east of Longlac, in northern Ontario is one artistic treasure that made this journey.
-
The shocking price Roy Thomas and his family members have paid on this journey to a modern industrial world is disclosed in the following pages. But Thomas has brought with him incredible beauty with his paintings and their inherent spiritual force for understanding the Turtle Island that we all share as living space. As attractive as the Thomas imagery is, The Spirit of Ahnisnabae Art is more than a promotional art book.
-
Here we have the story of an Ojibway youth born on a trap line, sent to a boarding school and orphaned as a teen but filled with a dream that he should display the cultural dynamics of his people through vision inspired paintings. Against formidable odds Roy Thomas would be successful. He would become along with Norval Morrisseau, one of only two native painters that the late and renowned Jack Pollock would show in his Toronto gallery. These were heady days for a young Roy Thomas. With money and fame Roy and his pals literally partied themselves across the country from one amusing scenario to another until the inevitability of despair emerged. Roy knew he was not following the teachings of his father Michael, and grandfather Paul, but how could he find his way again. Both his father and grandfather were gone. With assistance and guidance of the elders Thomas eventually made his way to sobriety, a renewed fatherhood, and artistic accomplishment. He is today pre-eminent among the Woodland artists in North America.
-
James R. Stevens
-
-
Others about Roy Thomas:
-
"When I saw Roy Thomas paintings for the first time I was moved and amazed by the colours Roy uses and the stories he tells and paints. There is no difference between the telling and the painting. Both are vivid and warm. People in Europe enjoy his paintings and are attracted to the stories Roy tells with his paintbrush. The paintings have the power to give pleasure to the soul."
-
Beatrix van Huystee, Mikinook Tribal Art, The Netherlands
-
"Thomas paintings are extremely profound especially in dramatic contrast to this age of fast moving technology. People coming into our galleries change expression to warmth, humility and tenderness when they see his paintings. His images stand in contrast to people who are losing balance in their lives. They need to see these paintings and hear the stories and many express profound appreciation how this experience has changed their lives."
-
Jan Sivertson, Sivertson Galleries, Duluth & Grand Marais, Minnesota
-
"With this book. Roy Thomas, the painter of stories is telling the story of his own life. It is part of the larger history of northwestern Ontario, the Woodland Art School and the heady days of the renaissance of native art in the 1970s. It is a story that needs to be told."
-
Janet Clark, The Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario
-
"Roy Thomas is one of those rare people who has known he had to forever keep in very close touch with his Inner Sage, his soul, part of the great Spirit Himself. That is why someone like Roy has an uncanny artistic power, which he very humbly respects and shares with all of us, his brothers ans sisters of the whole Circle of Life. Aboriginal artists, philosophers and spiritualists stand out and deserve the place and the status of national treasures in this great country of ours, Canada. Roy Thomas is one such person, for he is not merely an artist: his art and thought richly feed into the deep Aboriginal soul of this country."
-
Dr. Georges Sioui, Author and Educator, Vancouver, British Columbia
-
-
Source:
Text: ROY THOMAS - "The Spirit of Ahnishnabae Art" - A Gallery Edition /www.ahnisnabae-art.com/ by James R. Stevens, ISBN: 0-9688345-0-7 /Used with permission/.
-
-
>>>Reference posting: Red Lake Woodland Arts Festival: A Tribute to Norval Morrisseau and the Woodland Artists in 25 DAYS!.
-
--
* The painting in this posting: "Untitled", 9"x15", © c. 1990 Roy Thomas /Private Collection/

Birds of Norval Morrisseau (Part VII)

-
- 1960's PERIOD-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
- -
-

"Loons", © 1960s Norval Morrisseau
-
-
"He is one of the greatest painters Canada has ever produced. One day we were looking at the Group of Seven and he commented 'They paint trees, I paint loons and they connect to the sky'".
-
Tom Hill
-
Source: Image: Humbleton Galleries, Kelowna, BC
-
* The painting in this posting: "Loons", 14"x20", © c. 1960s Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Ancestral Spirits (Part I)

-
- 1970's PERIOD-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
- -
-
-
"Ancestral Spirit Speaks to Children", © 1978 Norval Morrisseau
-
-
“Among the Indians, as among other nations, some people are born artists, but most are not. I am a born artist. I have as much interest in my people as any anthropologist, and I have studied our culture and lore. My aim is to reassemble the pieces of a once proud culture, and to show the dignity and bravery of my people.”
-
Norval Morrisseau
-
-
* The painting in this posting: "Ancestral Spirit Speaks to Children", 24"x48", © 1978 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Norval Morrisseau Blues (Part III)

-
- 1980's PERIOD-

-
-

-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
"Nature", © 1988 Norval Morrisseau
/Click on image to Enlarge/
-
-
"My people believe the earth to be their mother and that we are children of the earth. In spirit we are one with our environment."
-
Norval Morrisseau
-
-

Blog Master's comment:
-
"Norval Morrisseau's painting style is characterized by thick black outlines and bright colors. It is not widely known that he painted large number of canvases with thick blue outlines as in the painting presented in this posting.
"
-
-
~ The painting in this posting has provenance leading directly to the artist: "Nature", 24"x40" (diptich), © 1988 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part V)

-
- Joshim Kakegamic (1952-1993)
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-

-

"Mishipeshu", © 1970s Joshim Kakegamic
-
-

Born in 1952 in Sandy Lake, Joshim Kakegamic enjoyed early and extensive contact with brother-in-law Norval Morrisseau and with Carl Ray. Joshim Kakegamic studied with Ray and Morrisseau during their tour of northern reserves. Joshim Kakegamic had his first group show in 1969 and presented a solo workshop at Fanshawe College. In 1973 Joshim Kakegamic and his brothers Goyce and Henry started the Triple K Co-operative, a silkscreen operation based in Red Lake. Triple K Co-operative artists included Norval Morrisseau, Goyce Kakegamic, Joshim Kakegamic, Saul Williams, Barry Peters and Paddy Peters. Triple K Co-operative became the largest and most successful Aboriginal economic development initiative in Northwestern Ontario, providing an infrastructure that resulted in many artists having their work exhibited and acquired by prominent art galleries and museums in Canada and around the world.
-
By 1975 Joshim Kakegamic was being shown at Aggregation Gallery in Toronto, which still handled Carl Ray’s work. While Joshim’s predecessors invented and refined the pictographic style, Joshim Kakegamic was weaned on it, and rapidly perfected the vocabulary. He was a painter of technical virtuosity and an innovator in the field of Indian print production. Joshim Kakegamic died tragically when his snowmobile fell through the ice while he was trying to save life of another man in 1993.-
-
For more information about the Triple K Co-operative go to WIKIPEDIA.
-
Source: Image: Hambleton Galleries, Kelowna, BC
-
>>>Reference posting: Red Lake Woodland Arts Festival: A Tribute to Norval Morrisseau and the Woodland Artists in 7 DAYS!.
--
* The image in this posting: "Mishipeshu", © c. 1970s Joshim Kakegamic /Private Collection/

Norval Morrisseau Aquatics (Part VI)

-
- 1970's PERIOD
-

-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-

-- -
-

"Untitled", © 1972 Norval Morrisseau
-
-
"Why am I alive? To heal you guys who are more screwed up than I am. How can I heal you? With colour. These are the colours you dreamt about one night."
-
Norval Morrisseau
-
-
* The painting in this posting: "Untitled", 22"x22", © 1972 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Birds of Norval Morrisseau (Part VI)

-
- 1960's PERIOD-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
- -
-

"Bird with Eggs", © 1960s Norval Morrisseau
-
-
"Today 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."
-
Norval Morrisseau
-
-
* The painting in this posting: "Bird with Eggs", © c. 1960s Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Spiritual Unity (Part VI)

-
- 1970's PERIOD-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
- -
-

--
© 1970s Norval Morrisseau
/Click on image to Enlarge/
-
-
"It is our Ojibwa tradition to recall our history or obtain our history in an oral manner. It is important for our children and others to benefit through the process of continuing to recall and make history."
-
Norval Morrisseau
-
-
* The painting in this posting: "Title Not Known", © c. 1970s Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part IV)

-
- Jackson Beardy (1944-1984)-
-


-



-



-



---



"Life Cycles", © 1976 Jackson Beardy

INSPIRED STORYTELLER & RESPECTED ARTIST

Jackson Beardy's life began on July 24, 1944 on Garden Hill First Nation, an Oji-Cree community on the shores of Island Lake in northeastern Manitoba. Forty years later, on Dec. 7, 1984, it came to an end.
-
Almost 25 years have passed since Beardy's death, more than half a lifetime for the young artist who used his talents to reconnect to his Native identity and later to inspire and encourage other young Native men and women to express themselves through art.
-
The fifth child of 13 born to John Beardy and Dinah Monias, Jackson was given a special task at a very young age. He would live with his grandmother, his father's mother, and learn from her the traditional stories of the Cree people. But his education in legend and tradition was cut short when he turned seven and government policy of the time demanded he go away to residential school. Beardy attended Portage Indian school in Portage la Prairie, 50 km west of Winnipeg and hundreds of kilometres away from home.
-
He spoke no English when he arrived at residential school-only Cree and that was forbidden, as were many of the traditions that had up to now been a way of life for Beardy and his classmates. Beardy learned to speak, read and write English, but the more he learned to meet the demands placed on him to adopt white ways, the more disconnected he became to his Native heritage and the things his grandmother had worked so hard to instill in him.
-
But while his residential school experiences slowly chipped away at Beardy's connection to his culture, they also opened up doors for the young student that allowed him to hone his artistic talents.
-
Beardy attended the Technical Vocational school in Winnipeg from 1963 to 1964, where he studied commercial art. He finished the course, but without experience, couldn't find work. He began to create art, reconnecting with the stories his grandmother had passed on to him in his childhood, combining them with the art techniques he had learned, capturing the resulting mix in paint on canvas. He worked for a time in the display department of the Simpson Sears department store in Winnipeg, but lost the job when health problems began to plague him. Beardy had begun to drink after leaving residential school-one of the ways he tried to cope with the feelings of isolation that he felt-and he soon developed ulcers. Problems related to his drinking would plague him for another decade, until he gave up alcohol in 1974. The ulcers would continue to be a problem for the remainder of his life.
-
Beardy was hospitalized for the ulcers and after his release, he decided to return home to Garden Hill reserve. His homecoming wasn't all he had hoped it would be. He was seen more as an outsider than as a member of the community returned, a view that was strengthened by the art he produced. The images Beardy created in his work were taken from oral tradition, and many people were not receptive about capturing them in a visual form.-
-
Beardy had his first art exhibit in 1965 at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. In 1966 he took some art classes at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Manitoba. In 1967 he went to Montreal as a consultant for the Canadian Indian Pavilion at Expo '67. He received commissions to produce works of art to commemorate both Canada's centennial in 1967 and Manitoba's centennial in 1970.
-
It was in 1970 when one event presented Beardy with both a great accomplishment and a bitter disappointment, and illustrated the struggle Native artists faced in their attempts to be recognized and respected.
-
A grand gala was held at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa to commemorate Manitoba's centennial, and Beardy's work was to be featured. Beardy was invited to attend the gala, but when he arrived with his family, security guards wouldn't let him in.
-
One of the highlights of Beardy's artistic career was his involvement in the exhibition Treaty Numbers 23, 287 and 1171, in which his work was featured alongside that of Daphne Odjig and Alex Janvier. The exhibit, held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 1972, marked a movement toward having the work of Native artists showcased in art galleries rather than museums, a sign that their art was finally making the jump from being appreciated for its anthropological merit to being viewed as true art. That same year, Beardy was awarded the Canadian Centennial Medal.
-
Beardy was one member of a group of Native artists who formed the Professional Native Indian Artists Association, better known as the "Indian Group of Seven." Beardy, along with fellow group members Daphne Odjig, Alex Janvier, Norval Morrisseau, Carl Ray, Joseph Sanchez and Eddy Cobiness, worked to promote Native control of Native art and to change the way the world looked at Native art, shifting the emphasis from the "Nativeness" of the art to it's artistic merits.Like other members of the group, Beardy's work is categorized as being part of the New Woodland school, a style of art characterized by its use of black outlining, blocks of pure, undiluted color and X-ray views. -
-
Beardy drew inspiration from much of his artwork from the stories of his people, translating myths and legends from the oral tradition into the visual, presenting his interpretation of the stories through paintings and prints, rendering the images on canvas, birchbark or beaver skins. While capturing the essence of the stories he had learned as a young child and relearned as an adult, Beardy's work reflected traditional Native viewpoints about the interconnectedness of the universe.
-
While primarily an artist, Beardy spent much of his time in the role of teacher, something that came naturally to him because at the heart of it all he was a storyteller. He taught art at Brandon University and at the University of Manitoba, and also worked with younger students in schools across Winnipeg.
-
He worked as art advisor and cultural consultant to the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature and Brandon University's Department of Native Studies, and was involved in a number of organizations that advocated on behalf of artists.-
-
Beardy also turned his talents to the world of publishing, illustrating a number of books including When the Morning Stars Sang Together written by John Morgan, Almighty Voice by Leonard Peterson, Ojibway Heritage by Basil Johnston and the Winter 1983 issue of The Canadian Journal of Native Studies.-
-
In the early 1980s, Beardy was living in Ottawa, acting as art advisor and cultural consultant to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, which took up much of the time he would have normally been spending on his art. In 1984, he left Ottawa and returned home to Winnipeg, where he began work on a new series of prints. In mid-November, Beardy suffered a heart attack. He recovered, but an infection set in a few weeks later and he died.
-
A memorial service was held for Beardy in the Blue Room of the Manitoba legislature where the lieutenant governor holds ceremonies and hosts receptions-the first time such a service had ever been held in that location. Joining Beardy's family in mourning their loss were Elders, Native leaders, and politicians from all three levels of government who came to remember and pay tribute to the artist and the man.
-
The year after Beardy's death, the graphics arts class at R.B. Russell Vocational high school in Winnipeg created a lasting monument to his work, recreating "Peace and Harmony", a piece he had been working on just before his death, on the exterior walls of the Indian Family Centre on Selkirk Avenue. Jackson had planned to create the mural himself, but following his death the task of finishing the project fell to other hands.
Ceryl Petten-

Source:
Text: AMMSA - Aboriginal Multi-Media Society
-
-
For more information about Jackson Beardy go to WIKIPEDIA.-
-
-
-
--
* The image in this posting: "Life Cycles"; Lithograph, Edition: 100; © 1976 Jackson Beardy

Shamans of Norval Morrisseau (Part XXIX)

-
- 1970's PERIOD -
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
- -
-
-
© 1970s Norval Morrisseau
-
-
"My Grandfather told me once that nobody, no matter how hard they tried, could he remember all of the legends, otherwise, the whole of Northwestern Ontario would be covered in Pictographs."
-
Norval Morrisseau
-
-
* The painting in this posting: "Title not known", © c. 197os Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Birds of Norval Morrisseau (Part V)

-
- 1970's PERIOD-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
- -
-
"Family of Birds", © 1973 Norval Morrisseau
-
-
“My paintings are icons, that is to say, they are images which help focus on spiritual powers, generated by traditional belief and wisdom.”
-
Norval Morrisseau
-
-
* The painting in this posting: "Family of Birds", 20"x30", © 1973 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Monday, January 26, 2009

Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part III)

-
- Benjamin Chee Chee (1944 - 1977) -
-
-

-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
"Caribou", © Benjamin Chee Chee-


"MY WORKS ARE NOT INFLUENCED BY INVENTIONS OF MYTHOLOGY BUT HONOUR THE TOTEMS OF THE PRESENT"

"GAAWII ZHAAGNAASHII DBAAJMOOWINING NDA NDINZIINAN WA MZINBIIMAA. MAAMPII GO NONGO EYAAJIK GDOODEMNAANIK NDA MNAAJAAK MZINBIIGWAA"

BENJAMIN CHEE CHEE

MARCH 26. 1944
MARCH 14. 1977

/Insription on the Benjamin Chee Chee's tombstone at Notre Dame Cemetery, Ottawa, Ontario/-

-
Born on Temagami Reserve in Ontario in 1944. Benjamin Chee Chee largely taught himself to paint and draw. His father died when he was two months old and his mother was absent for most of his life. Benjamin spent his life looking for his mother hoping to be reunited with her. It is believed this life ambition fueled his desire to succeed as an artist. He met her in the last year of his life. Most of his later art involved a mother with her young.

Benjamin Chee Chee was a very unique Ojibway artist. Unlike other young Woodland artists he chose not to follow the style of the Woodland Art Movement founder Norval Morrisseau. He was an innovator that adopted a minimalistic graphics style and used elegant flowing lines against a white clean background to create powerful art. He was a master of the simple line.

Chee Chee's artistic career was very brief. In four short years he had risen to national prominence. Unfortunately, at the peak of his success as an artist, Benjamin Chee Chee committed suicide by hanging himself in an Ottawa jail cell. He was only 32.

"On March 11, 1977 Chee Chee delivered the 18 paintings he had promised his agent, a collection now known as "the Black Geese Portfolio". He then went to Jimmy's Restaurant on Bank Street, a tavern he frequented. Police were called to find a window had been broken and Chee Chee "boisterous and intoxicated." He was placed under arrest and secured at 6:50 P.M. in police cell no. 10, which was a bare cell for uncooperative prisoners. Mintues later Chee Chee was found hanging from the bars of his cell. He had hung himself with a noose fashioned from his shirt. He died in hospital three days later."

- excerpt from Chee Chee A Study of Aboriginal Suicide written by Al Evans, published by McGill-Queen's University Press 2004.
--
-
>>>Recommended additional reading: "The Life and Death of Benjamin Chee Chee 1944-1977" by Lorette C. Luzajic
-
>>>Reference posting: Red Lake Woodland Arts Festival: A Tribute to Norval Morrisseau and the Woodland Artists in 22 DAYS!.
-

-
* The painting in this posting: "Caribou", Lithograph - Edition of 75, © Benjamin Chee Chee /Private Collection/

Sacred World of Norval Morrisseau (Part X)

-
- 1980's PERIOD--
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-

-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
"Mother Fish", © 1980s Norval Morrisseau
-
-

"Just as a fish swims in any clear northern lake (in a medium that is virtually invisible to the eye) so we, if we are to live all right, should realize we live in a dimension on which our very existence, as people and artists, depends. The dimension is that of connectivity in life shared together in mutual respect… Fish, in spawning runs, seem to urge each other on, to reach safe and secluded lakes, with plentiful food supplies. Once there, they can live more non-competitively."
-
Norval Morrisseau
-
-
* The painting in this posting: "Mother Fish", 18"x24", © c. 198os Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Sacred World of Norval Morrisseau (Part IX)

-
- 1970's PERIOD--
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-

-
-
-
-
-
- -
-
--
© 1970s Norval Morrisseau
-
-

"My idea is, why I draw them, 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."
-
Norval Morrisseau
-
-
* The painting in this posting: "Title not known", © c. 197os Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Spiritual Unity (Part V)

-
- 1970's PERIOD- -
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
© 1970s Norval Morrisseau
/Click on image to Enlarge/
-
-
"I want my work to be cornerstone for Indian art, to provide something that will last."
-
Norval Morrisseau
-
-
* The painting in this posting: "Title Not Known", © c. 1970s Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part II)

-
- Daphne Odjig (b. 1919)
-
-

-


-


-


-


-


-


-

-
-
-
-
"Intermezzo, © 1990 Daphne Odjig
-
-
Born and raised in the Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation on Manitoulin Island, Daphne Odjig has strong traditional roots in her Native culture (she is Potawatomi, Odawa, and English) and is proud of the artistic tradition of her ancestors. Her grandfather, Jonas Odjig, carved tombstones for the nearby church and later sketched and painted church landscapes. Her father painted war scenes and portraits of soldiers from the Great War, and was a talented musician.
-
Growing up on a dairy farm, Daphne was no stranger to hard work. Nevertheless, she and her three siblings found time to enjoy the local swimming hole in the summers and local storytelling in the winters. Unfortunately, at age 13, a bout of rheumatic fever cut short her school attendance -- an event that frustrated her because she had plans of becoming a schoolteacher. Later, Daphne treasured the convalescent time she spent at home because it had provided the opportunity to become very close to her mother and grandfather.

-
As it happened, these two important people in her life died when she was 18 years old. Soon after, Daphne left the "Wiki" reserve for small-town Ontario, that is, Parry Sound, where she experienced racial discrimination for the first time. It was here that she and her siblings used the surname "Fisher," the English translation of "Odjig," as a response to the prejudice.

-
During the early years of World War II, Daphne moved to Toronto for job opportunities. Here, she met her first husband, Paul Somerville, whose military post took them to the West Coast. It was not until their two sons were attending school that Daphne began to take her painting seriously.
-
Daphne has said that she "was born with a paintbrush in her hand" and that, as a child, she lived for Friday art class at school. Her early paintings and sketches were in the realist style, mostly as a result of encouragement from teachers to create "realistic" paintings. Daphne felt that these instructions were rigid however, and she wished to paint how she "felt."

-
As an adult, Daphne did initially paint in a realist style, but she soon experimented with other styles as well. A self-taught artist, she often visited art galleries and borrowed art books from libraries, studying various artists and their work. Vanderburgh and Southcott recap Daphne's exploration of art styles as follows: "Daphne had taught herself to paint realism; next she explored cubism and then abstract expressionism. She moved through impressionism and cloissonnism. She was influenced by the Northwest Coast art and the developing Anishnabe style" (A Paintbrush in My Hand, p 88).

-
Daphne's work is often associated with the New Woodland school. This style was originally attributed to Norval Morrisseau, who was the first to defy cultural restrictions by taking the sacred pictography of the Ojibwa-Midewewin belief system outside Native communities. The style is described as having several characteristics: a predominant black form line, an undifferentiated black background, pure unmixed colors, a system of x-ray views and the system of interconnecting lines of sacred pictographs that is known as "linear determinatives" (Odjig : the Art of Daphne Odjig, 1960-2000, p. 16).

-
Bob Boyer notes that "Daphne often claims that she is not part of the New Woodland school" in that her works incorporated the importance of womanhood and sense of family, while others in the New Woodland group "concerned themselves with a spiritual quest" (Odjig : the Art of Daphne Odjig, 1960-2000, p. 12). Her work also differed in that she was influenced by Picasso's cubism, but within an Aboriginal context. She was attracted to the cubist style because of its "disregard for perspectival space, its skewing of the elements and relationships of reality, and its central compositional structure" (Odjig : the Art of Daphne Odjig, 1960-2000, p. 17).

-
In the early 1960s, Aboriginal communities across Canada were undergoing a cultural revival. At about this time, Daphne was encouraged by her sister-in-law to paint scenes from Manitoulin mythology. She also wrote and illustrated a series of children's books on legends about Nanabush, a trickster figure in Ojibwa culture. This work gave Daphne a focus and later, the confidence to paint for an audience. However, a major setback occurred: in 1960, her husband, Paul Somerville, died in an automobile accident. Daphne grieved this loss by working the strawberry farm she and her husband had built together and painting in the evenings.

-
In 1962, Daphne re-married. Her second husband is Chester Beavon. Beavon's community development work took the couple to northern Manitoba in the mid-1960s. Here, Daphne learned of the plight of the displaced Easterville Cree, whose lands were flooded by man-made dams. "She felt the need to respond to a community searching for its roots and contemporary relevance" (Odjig : the Art of Daphne Odjig, 1960-2000, p. 15). This response was manifested in a series of ink drawings about life on the reserve, with images of subsistence activities.

-
In 1972, Odjig's art took her to Winnipeg and a pivotal exhibition, "Treaty Numbers 23, 287 and 1171," at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The exhibition featured her work, along with the work of Jackson Beardy and Alex Janvier. This was the first time Native artists were featured in a Canadian public art gallery, rather than a museum. Regarding the significance of the exhibition, Carol Podedworny notes: "That the contemporary productions of living Canadian Native artists would remain relegated to museums of anthropology and ethnography well into the 1980s confirms the colonialist mentality that has surrounded the exhibition and interpretation of Native art in Canada for nearly sixty years" (Odjig : the Art of Daphne Odjig, 1960-2000, p. 14). This statement gives an idea of the struggle Native artists faced in their attempts to be recognized in the mainstream art world. In addition, Daphne was the only Native woman artist facing this struggle in the early years, a situation made all the more difficult because she was a self-taught artist and, as a result, not respected at that time.

-
Winnipeg was, nonetheless, something of a watershed for Daphne. It was here, in 1973, that she co-founded the Professional Native Indian Artists Association (colloquially called the "Indian Group of Seven"). This group included Daphne, Jackson Beardy, Carl Ray, Joseph Sanchez, Eddy Cobiness, Norval Morrisseau and Alex Janvier. As is evident, Daphne was the first and only woman to be a part of this group. Later, in 1974, Daphne and Chester opened the Warehouse Gallery in Winnipeg, a huge venture that provided support for emerging Native artists.

-
In 1976, the Beavons moved to their current home in Anglemont, British Columbia, a peaceful spot near Lake Shuswap. It was here that the ideas coalesced for a huge mural, commissioned by the Museum of Man in Ottawa (now, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau). While these ideas were taking shape, "Daphne realized she was going to portray history from the Native point of view. She would bring into this history her own reactions as a Native person -- her emotions of horror, pain, anger and hope" (A Paintbrush in My Hand, p. 85). The four-part mural, entitled The Indian in Transition (1978), was 8' x 27' and, as Podedworny writes, provided Daphne with the "…opportunity to be bolder, to express emotions with no inhibition … [Daphne considered this piece] a personal achievement related to her admiration of Picasso's freedom in expressing human truths. She thinks that her public had not been ready, to this point, for her to depict human agony on canvas" (Odjig : the Art of Daphne Odjig, 1960-2000, p. 20).

-
Since her work on this mural, Daphne has continued to paint without inhibition. Podedworny describes Odjig's 1970s work as political, and uses the metaphor of cultural anthems to describe her work from the 1980s and 1990s (Odjig : the Art of Daphne Odjig, 1960-2000, p. 14). Odjig's work, Podedworny argues, has evolved to a more lyrical emphasis and "the paintings seem to reflect a peace and tranquility not evident in Daphne's political oeuvre" (Odjig : the Art of Daphne Odjig, 1960-2000, p. 24).

-
Source: Text: "Native-Online" ; Image: Red Kettle - Art & Collectibles
-
-
>>>Reference posting: Red Lake Woodland Arts Festival: A Tribute to Norval Morrisseau and the Woodland Artists in 9 DAYS!.
-
-
* The image in this posting: "Intermezzo", Medium: coloured pencil on paper, 9"x9", © 1990 Daphne Odjig /Private Collection/