Friday, April 30, 2010

How Ritchie 'Stardreamer' Sinclair met Norval Morrisseau and details of their relationship

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* The textual content of this post was previously published on November 29th, 2009 (click HERE)
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>>> Dishonest & disrespectful behaviour of an individual who single-handedly caused the greatest harm to the Norval Morrisseau Art Market and whose name is infamously connected with the Legacy of Norval Morrisseau...
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"RITCHIE THE PROSTITUTE", 40"X38", © 1981 Norval Morrisseau
~ Click on image to enlarge & click HERE to see canvas Verso OR click HERE to view a painting's detail with higher image resolution for closer investigation-
>>> Click HERE to view samples of other paintings by Norval Morrisseau inscribed in one of the signing styles he exercised in the 1970's and 1980's & click HERE to read Ritchie 'Stardreamer' Sinclair's statement that "he never once saw Norval Morrisseau sign the back of canvases in black paint with so-called "drybrush" look" (the same opinion shared with Donald C. Robinson of Kinsman Robinson Galleries and Bryant Ross, who is the gallery director of the Coghlan Art Studio & Gallery).
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Mr. Wilfred (Wolf) Morrisseau's statement clarifies how Ritchie 'Stardreamer' Sinclair was 'NEVER a protégé' to Norval Morrisseau and any claims made by Ritchie Sinclair have been based on a false historicity made up by Sinclair. Details to how these two came into association are explained further in this affidavit by Mr. Wilfred (Wolf) Morrisseau who is brother and kin to the late Norval Morrisseau:
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"To Whom It May Concern:
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----I Wilfred David Charles Morrisseau (Wolf) do make this statement in all honesty and sincerity concerning my late brother Norval Morrisseau.
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----I, Wilfred (Wolf) Morrisseau did live with my brother in Buckhorn, Ontario from 1975 to 1981. During this time, I was my brother's caretaker as well as his temporary manager for his artwork.
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----Norval had homosexual tendencies and he would go to Toronto and he would bring back male escorts. In the fall of 1981, I had met Mr. Richie Sinclair as one of the male escorts. Mr. Sinclair provided services for Norval and he would pay cash. My brother would also give the male escorts paintings and artifacts that he was collecting. These items were usually used as payments for their services. These escorts would also steal paintings and artifacts as well. Even though my brother has homosexual tendencies, I did not engage in these activities.
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----Throughout this time, I never saw Mr. Sinclair ever paint with my brother nor did I ever heard him say that he adopted him. My brother has never given Mr. Sinclair authorities over his artworks. Mr. Sinclair had taken advantage of my brother sickness. By doing so he would steal his artwork and personal artifacts. My brother did not consider Mr. Sinclair as his protégé, but only as in my brother's words "his boy toy".
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----Everything in this statement I have given is the truth about my involvement with my late brother Norval Morrisseau.
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Sincerely,

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Signed
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Wilfred (Wolf) Morrisseau"
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* Click HERE to view an original document signed by Mr. Wilfred (Wolf) Morrisseau on December 27, 2008. -

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>>> To learn more about Ritchie 'Stardreamer' Sinclair and his dishonest & disrespectful behaviour I STRONGLY RECOMMEND reading the articles below before proceeding to his websites at www.morrisseau.com, www.stardreamers.com & www.loveofspirit.com:
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PROVENANCE: This acrylic painting on canvas titled "RITCHIE THE PROSTITUTE", 40"X38", © 1981 Norval Morrisseau (the title refers to Ritchie 'Stardreamer' Sinclair) is from Private Collection of Ugo Matulić a.k.a. Spirit Walker (Calgary, Alberta). It was acquired directly from the artist by T.C. of Toronto, Ontario (deceased) and it was painted the same year (1981) when Mr. Wilfred (Wolf) Morrisseau met Ritchie 'Stardreamer' Sinclair for the first time, as described in the above text).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

More than 80,000 Unique Visitors of NORVAL MORRISSEAU BLOG since March 3, 2008

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>>> NORVAL MORRISSEAU BLOG & Protecting the Legacy of Norval Morrisseau continues...
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"Norval Morrisseau Genuine Collage" by Spirit Walker
~ All paintings © by Norval Morrisseau
/For detailed examination click on image and for more information about paintings presented in this collage click HERE/


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Hi to all,
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I would like to thank you all for your contribution to this NORVAL MORRISSEAU BLOG. It is proving to be an exciting success as I have always anticipated it would be. The subject is dynamic and evolving to say the least.
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The main purpose of this blog is to share information with anyone interested in the Anishinaabe (Woodland) School of Art Movement that Norval Morrisseau and other early aboriginal artists started in the late 1950's. From this start that is linked to the cliff paintings seen along the canoe routes of antiquity, and others yet to be found in other sparsely settled areas of North and South America, Canada and the World has become aware of the artistic genius of Our aboriginal culture. This artistic genius doesn't stop at visual art alone but extends to the written and performing arts that are also being recognized.
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The artistic genius of Norval Morrisseau was best described by Jack Pollock (1930-1992) who wrote: "...Norval, with his incredible ability with the formal problems of art (colour-design-space) and his commitment to the world of his people, the great Ojibway, give one the sense of power that only genius provides... It is sufficient to say that in the history of Canadian Painting, few have, and will remain giants. Norval shall."
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Thank you for your continuing support.
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Ugo Matulić a.k.a. Spirit Walker
/spiritwalker2008@gmail.com/
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> For the purposes of this blog I would like to be referred to as Spirit Walker. Miigwetch!
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The definition of Genius... (Part I)

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU at 'The Pollock Gallery', 1962
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"The age does not create the genius it requires. The genius is not the product of his age, is not to be explained by it, and we do him no honour if we attempt to account for him by it . . . And as the causes of its appearance do not lie in any one age, so also the consequences are not limited by time. The achievements of genius live for ever, and time cannot change them. By his works a man of genius is granted immortality on the earth, and thus in a threefold manner he has transcended time. His universal comprehension and memory forbid the annihilation of his experiences with the passing of the moment in which each occurred; his birth is independent of his age, and his work never dies."
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Otto Weininger (1880-1903)
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Woodland Time Machine (Part I)

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Painter Alex Janvier wins Governor General's award (2008)
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by APTNDigitalNations
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Elizabeth Withey, The Edmonton Journal, Wednesday, March 26th - 2008
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EDMONTON - Winning a 2008 Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts is like realizing a childhood hockey dream, says aboriginal artist Alex Janvier.


"It feels like I've gotten to the first line with the Montreal Canadiens and scored my first goal," the Cold Lake painter said Tuesday from Montreal. "I always wanted that, when I was young, but I never played hockey that well."

Janvier, 73, is one of eight Canadians to win the prestigious national prize this year. The winners, announced Tuesday morning by the Canada Council for the Arts, each receive $25,000. Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean will present the awards Friday at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

The prizes are given annually to visual and media artists for distinguished career achievement in fine arts, applied arts, independent film and video, or audio and new media.

Janvier, who is of Dene Suline and Saulteaux descent, has been painting for more than 40 years and is known for his unique visual language based on the cultural and spiritual traditions of Dene people in Alberta's north. His paintings, characterized by flowing, curvilinear lines, blend modern abstract styles with traditional native themes and have earned him a reputation as one of Canada's greatest artists.

As a boy, Janvier might not have excelled at the hockey rink, but he stood out in visual arts. Born on Le Goff Reserve, Cold Lake First Nations in 1935, Janvier got his start early, drawing animals in the wet soil with sticks. At age eight, he was sent to Blue Quills Residential School near St. Paul, where the principal, a Parisian priest, noticed his artistic abilities and encouraged him.

"The schools that I went to have always had paper and crayons. That was a gift above and beyond scratching on the ground," Janvier said.

In 1960, Janvier graduated from Calgary's Alberta Institute of Technology and Art (now known as the Alberta College of Art and Design). Six years later, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs commissioned him to produce 80 paintings.

Janvier brought together a group of artists for the Indians of Canada Pavilion at Expo 67 and, in 1973, formed what came to be known as the Group of Seven native artists, pioneers of native art in North America (the group actually had eight members). Joining Janvier were Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, Norval Morrisseau, Carl Ray, Bill Reid and Joe Sanchez and Daphne Odjig.

"The best thing that ever happened to me was to become an artist," Janvier said. "I was just fortunate to stay with it."

Janvier was offered a teaching job at the University of Alberta in the '60s but turned it down to paint full-time.

"I was told that I would starve for sure," he said. "I said, 'Look, I come from an Indian reserve. We're kind of used to that. Until the rabbit comes along.' "

In 2007, Janvier became a member of the Order of Canada.

He runs an art gallery from a rented space in downtown Cold Lake, and says he may put the prize money towards building his own gallery along the west side of the lake, near his home.
He says he was shocked to learn he'd won the national award. "When you work in these arts, you don't always expect rewards. Your reward is that you finish painting, finish a work, and then you go on to the next one."

The other winners announced Tuesday were jeweller-turned-knifemaker Chantal Gilbert of Quebec City; Vancouver avant-garde artist Eric Metcalfe; Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak; Quebec documentary filmmaker Serge Giguere; Montreal sculptor Michel Goulet; Toronto multidisciplinary artist Tanya Mars; and Shirley Thomson, a former director of the National Gallery of Canada and the McCord Museum in Montreal.

ewithey@thejournal.canwest.com
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>>> Reference posts:

- Friends of Norval Morrisseau (Part II) &
- Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part VIII).
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Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Morrisseau Legacy missing links (Part I)

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John Zabloski (1925-1999)
~ the guard at Kenora (Ontario) Jail who had provided the art materials Norval Morrisseau used to do the paintings while incarcerated...
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"Untitled", 21"x27", © 1971 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/
> For the 'sister pieces' click HERE & HERE <
~ Painted by Norval Morrisseau while in the Kenora Jail
--/Click on image to Enlarge/
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Okay so I am working my way up the hill. Being a Zabloski you are used to being last, or at the end of the line or the bottom of the hill, you get what I mean.
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So what to say, where to start on my Dad? This is harder then I thought it would be.
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I think the first thing that comes to mind is the importance of family that my dad brought to us every day. From his friendly tug on your ear as he pulled you out of his chair, to the occasional swat on the butt when you stepped out of line. Sometimes it was just the HEY! Other times it would be the snoring coming from under the newspaper he was reading in his chair. Other times it was the burnt match smell eminating from the bathroom after his 3 or 4 time daily visit to the THRONE! We only had the one washroom so there was no escaping the burnt match smell if you were next.
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My Dad was always visiting up and down the hill with his brothers or sister-in-laws, if they weren't home. Doing the rounds he would call it. He was simply being the big brother making sure all was quiet on the hill and all were well! We always knew when he would be going to Baba's because he would bring a pot with him. Most times it was to bring home a pot of borscht that we would all get a laddle of if we were lucky. Other times he was simply getting potatoes from the bin in Baba's basement.
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Dad worked for the CPR for 25 years. He worked in the round house for the most of those years until they shut it down. He always worked shift work with them. Mom would get up around 6:00 to make him his lunch, breakfast, get him out the door and put the porridge on for us when we got up and were getting ready to head out the door for school. For those early years I think my Mom was probably pregnant every year or at least every other year. I would have to look at the birthday schedule we keep handy to be sure. This again proved the FAMILY MAN life my Dad led.
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Dad and Mom were married June 17, 1950 and had 8 kids Donnie, Ricky, Sherri, Judy, Mikey, Tommy, Teresa and Cindy in the first 10 years then Chris came along in 1966. I'm pretty sure Mom lost a baby if not two along the way, but they moved on and here we are one big happy family! Well for the most part, NO, we are a big happy family!! :>),:),:.,:>,:<),{:>,(:>),{:},<:>)!!!!!!!!!
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Okay back to Dad! When they shut down the round house my Dad became a car knocker (what ever that is)and he would stand at the train station watching for fires or hot boxes they would call them. This one winter he had to stop the train as there was a native frozen on the ladder of a box car. They figure he had jumped on in Keewatin or Norman for a ride into town. Having no gloves or mitts his hands froze to the ladder. Now the story goes that when he had to pull the guy off the ladder one of his hands snapped off left on the ladder! True or False don't know but it does make a good story. The fellow was dead, frozen to death, unfortunately this still happens to this day.
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A time came when the CPR wanted Dad to take a transfer to Winnipeg to work in the round house there. He refused the transfer as he just could not see moving 9 kids to Winnipeg, plus he was a terrible city driver having gone the wrong way on one way streets numerous times or drove in the middle of two lanes going down Portage Ave saying "take mercy on a small town boy"!
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Dad joined Correctional Services at the Kenora jail and I believe he worked there 20yrs but I could be mistaken. Most of the inmates were unfortunate natives placed there to get cleaned up, sobered up, dressed up and sent out back to their life of poverty and drunkenness only to show up a few days later to go through the system again and again. Dad would come home some days and mention having to delice a number of these individuals and seeing the sores, cuts, infections, it really got to him. He treated them all as equals and expected the same from them and he got it. The criminal population respected my Dad for his fairness to all.
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I think I mentioned this story once before but it deserves mention again. It was in my Dad's earlier years with the jail. He had to take a 16yr old runaway to be put on the train. They were having breakfast at the Kenwood just down the street. The kid was having trouble eating so Dad said he would take the cuffs off as long as he promised not to try to run off on him. The cuffs came off and the kid JACKRABBITTED off on him quick as a wink! Now Dad, the smoker since he was 10 or 12 gave chase for the first 20 yards then had to give up. (he didn't chase us either just waited until we got within reach, then GOT YUH!) The police picked the kid up in Keewatin as the train came through, got him back to Kenora in time for Dad to turn him over for his ride to Winnipeg.
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Dad met Norval Morrisseau while he was incarcerated and had a good relationship with him. Morrisseau was given a separate cell where he could create his paintings of "Mother Earth and her creatures". Dad would make sure he had paper, paint, pencils for his creative talents to put to use. Dad was rewarded by Morrisseau by giving him a painting completed on particle board. He glued toilet paper to the board to give it texture and we hold this prized possession in our home to this day.
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Dad was enlisted in the BIG ONE WWII as a prisoner of war guard. They looked after captured German soldiers who were shipped to Canada for their detainment. Dad made friends with these soldiers and again was rewarded by one of the soldiers who carved a Canadian soldier doll which Mom has sitting in her China cabinet at home.
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Dad picked up some German and we had the chance to see him put it into use in Quebec City. We were on our way home from the drinking driving tour of the Maritimes, stopped at a St Hubert for chicken supper. There were 4 people at a table next to us speaking German, Dad picked up on this and used his 2 words of German to get their attention to the embarrassment of the rest of us. But Dad was just being friendly trying to make new friends.
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Mom was presented with Dad's 50 year membership with the Legion plaque after he passed in 1999. Dad did the hospital visits for the Legion. Every Saturday he would head down to the Legion to pickup the gift pack and make the rounds of the hospital visiting sick Legionnaire's. He did the same for the Knights of Columbus another organization he was very proud to belong to. Dad was a 3rd then 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus. He was involved with all of their fund raising efforts for years. He held all council positions and was District Deputy for the Kenora region. Mom and Dad attended numerous KofC conventions over the years and had friends across the country.
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On our infamous trip to Montana to visit my Mom's Aunt Gert Gariepy we had just crossed over into the USA I think when we broke down with a flat tire. We had just started to unload old Betsy the wagon when this car pulled over and some young guys jumped out. It turned out they had just completed their 3rd degree joining the Knights of Columbus, spotted the decal on the car window and stopped to see if they could help. They jacked the car up put on the spare, refused compensation saying that is what "Brother Knights do, help each other in times of need" and headed off down the road.
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I have more to say about Dad but will stop for now so you can take in what a great family man, leader, helpful, caring man our Dad was until his dieing days.
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Actually that just reminded me of one more quick story. Dad was in the Kenora hospital near the end but was feeling pretty good this one day. He told my sister Cindy to go pick up some chocolate bars from the canteen and get him into a wheel chair so he could do his hospital visits. Cindy refused saying Dad You are Sick! He simply said he would go and get them himself if she wasn't going to help. So she went got the candy he wanted and took him around for his hospital rounds. That was our Dad!
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Rick Zabloski
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~ The story originally published on April 20th, 2009 (Click HERE)
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Source: Kenora Ontario Zabloski's Blog
-----------~ Used with permission
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BLOG MASTER'S COMMENT: As per conversation with Mr. Rick Zabloski and addittional communication with Mr. Robert Lavack in connection to the information presented in the below listed posts it had been concluded that the missing link was John Zabloski (1925-1999) - the guard at Kenora Jail who had provided the art materials Norval Morrisseau used to do the paintings which were furnished to him by Mr. Robert Lavack (at that time a consultant with the Ontario Department of Education and who has recently co-authored the book “The Morrisseau Papers”).
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As stated above Norval Morrisseau was given a separate cell where he could create his paintings of "Mother Earth and her creatures". The same story was coveyed to Mr. Mike Aiken by Art historian Elizabeth McLuhan* who recalled Norval Morrisseau's famous stay as a guest of the province, at the Kenora Jail, where he had one cell set up as his studio and another for sleeping quarters (click HERE).
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* - member of the NORVAL MORRISSEAU HERITAGE SOCIETY (NMHS).
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>>> Reference posts:
- Collectors' Corner III,
- Collectors' Corner VI,
- Collectors' Corner VIII,
- McLuhan shares memories of artist Norval Morrisseau,

- Elizabeth McLuhan about Norval Morrisseau,
- THE MORRISSEAU PAPERS (Part I),
- THE MORRISSEAU PAPERS (Part II) /Ref. Robert's Story/
- Friends of Norval Morrisseau (Part III) /Ref. Mr. Robert Lavack/,
- Mr. Robert Lavack's Open Letter to Spirit Walker,
- Correspondence between Norval Morrisseau and Mr. Robert Lavack (Part I) &
- NO! NO! MORRISSEAU - Review of 'Christmas Letter to Norval Morrisseau' by Mr. Robert Lavack.
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~ Blog Master is thanking a collector for the submission of an image of the original painting by Norval Morrisseau and respects his/her decision to remain anonymous: "Untitled", 21"x27", © 1971 Norval Morrisseau

Friday, April 23, 2010

This Blog has 1,200 posts!

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU, 1970s
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Blog Master speaks...
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I appreciate all of you visiting the NORVAL MORRISSEAU BLOG. It is proving to be an exciting success as I have always anticipated it would be. The subject is dynamic and evolving to say the least. I wish to thank all the contributors for encouraging me to continue with this monumental project which is dedicated entirely to protecting the integrity of Norval Morrisseau's art and the preservation of his artistic legacy. Allow me again to introduce myself to those who don't know me.
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I was born in Split, Croatia. As a child I saw, and continue to see, the Indians of North America as members of an outstanding race. My favourite childhood memory was the time when 'spagetti western' movies were filmed in Croatia (then part of Yugoslavia) and as a memento from that time were countless memories and a photograph with my brother and I in front of Indian totem pole in my hometown of Omiš, Croatia (click HERE). When I emigrated to Canada my aim was to become a true Canadian and contribute to the advancement of this outstanding country. I also wanted to advance the cause of the First Nations Citizens. The best way I could do this appeared through advancing the cause of native art. Researching the background of Norval Morrisseau and other native artists and their lives has shown the adversity these artists had to overcome to become recognized. Some wonderful people emerged through this research, as did the hardships the art goddess imposed on many of these talented artists.
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The subject of my passion is Norval Morrisseau's art. He was one of the very few artists who started a completely new art movement: the Woodland or Medicine School of Art, now called the Anishnaabe School of Art, and has been dubbed the Father of Canadian Aboriginal Art. I believe as well as many others do that we are witnessing the rise of a Star in the World of Art with Universal proportions. My extensive knowledge and research along with my personal collection which I have amassed over the years are what I draw my knowledge base from. It seems like almost every day I find a new and fantastical correlation within this man's work. It is never ending. The scope and depth of Morrisseau's visions throughout his lifetime have left an impact on my soul that I cannot describe in words. "Perhaps I should paint as Morrisseau did to express feelings otherwise would not be explicable within my vocabulary?" His Art Work is my passion.


Challenge keeps all of us going and is the spice of life. Norval Morrisseau has given us plenty to flavour our appetites. He used tenderness and harsh realities associated with purifying our souls painted as images on canvas. In the end it is our choice to fall or RISE! Norval Morrisseau's works of Art have been challenged on many levels by different people. The issue of authenticity of his works can only be drawn out of secrecy by revealing the necessary knowledge for the seasoned collector and the novice wishing to swim in this Golden Ocean which is before us by exposing that which has been kept secret. The novice needs to know the precious tidbits of information at his or her disposal to make a sound and wise decision on purchasing Woodland Art created by the Master...Norval Morrisseau. I will desiminate whatever knowledge I have in this regard and keep a sensitive eye on any new developments as they will arise. Should I stray, please feel free to comment so as to put me on the right path again. I Thank you.

This information will of course prove to be invaluable to all collectors now and in the future. I am an authority in my own right. Many people have asked for my opinion and value my judgement which is not backed up by monetary gain but for the truth to be known and recorded for posterity. So let it be written so let it be done. All topics are open for discussion. I thank the Creator for allowing me this venue. Let us not disappoint but release the store house of Spiritual knowledge left to us painted on the canvas of Norval Morrisseau's legacy.

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Hvala/Miigwetch,
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Ugo Matulić a.k.a. Spirit Walker
/spiritwalker2008@gmail.com/
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> For the purposes of this blog I would like to be referred to as Spirit Walker. Miigwetch!
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Sculpture of Norval Morrisseau by Stratford, Ontario artist Susan Murar (Part IV)

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Earth Day 2010-
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----------------------"WE ARE ALL ONE" ~ Norval Morrisseau
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Portrait of Norval Morrisseau (detail) Illustration by Spirit Walker

© Susan Murar; Photography by Lucinda Jones /Click on image to Enlarge/--
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"LEARNING TO CREATE ART THROUGH THE EYES OF YOUR HEART"
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When you draw, sculpt/paint anything on Earth, become the thing you are creating as art. Feel compassion and synchronicity with its life force. See with your heart and your eyes will see truth. Truth is love, and love is the reason you exist...to love yourself and know that you share the spirit within every energy that exists in the universe.
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When you try to create again, through art, what has already been created, your path is pure and you become one with the all of everything...and all of everything becomes a part of you. Whether you draw or sculpt, be with joy for joy is also love and heart-connection, and becoming who you were meant to truly be now, in this moment of perfection.
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Through you spirit has learned to sing, because of your eyes the world exists in all its complex beauty, "Create as you were created" in art and all other manifestations - see through your heart and your eyes will follow, and frustration will open to awareness and, technical facility. You will become what you desire and desire stirs all creation and artistic endeavor.
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"I desire to create beautiful and meaningful form and line. I desire to search within myself for artistic expression that is unique to me, I desire to learn to create art to understand my world, I desire to feel passionate about life through art - because I am an artist. I desire to know the totality of my capabilities in imagination, and, what does my art say about me?"
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As an artist and as a human being, I wish to be a part of everything - life. We feel through our heart the fragility of life in all its intimacy, for "intimacy is the world."
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Zuska Gevurah - 'Woman with Courage'
~ Susan Murar, Sculptor
---BA, MFA, AOCAD


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>>> Reference post:
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Sculpture of Norval Morrisseau by Stratford, Ontario artist Susan Murar (Part III)

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HOW THE NORVAL MORRISSEAU WAS SCULPTED?
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Portrait of Norval Morrisseau
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© Susan Murar; Photography by Lucinda Jones /Click on image to Enlarge/
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"I am honouring his gift to the people of the world"
~ Susan Murar
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The armature of the Norval Morrisseau portrait is almost completely-made of basketry which was wired together, plastered over, and painted to have a non-porous surface on which to attach the non-drying clay, plasticine, the colour of the clay antique white.
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The eagle headdress is a basket in the shape of the horn of plenty which was wired and pulled into the shape of the eagle's beak and plastered before cutting the wire.
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The wings are, each, one formed piece of styrofoam/insulation that are painted and an armature of wood under each wing was needed to support them for the application of clay, because they were too delicate.
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Behind the portrait itself, the face, an old cooking pot made of aluminum was found, along with the baskets, at the Goodwill Store. Although this was functional as far as the round squatty shape, when I was putting it in place I thought that Norval would be amused at a cooking pot in his head, mildly symbolic and humorous although my intention was only practical.
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The Shaman Staff is also made-two similar baskets that I found in two different towns, one in Shakespeare and the other in the Ten Thousand Villages store in New Hamburg-on sale. They were gifts to me because they worked so well with the shape of the Shaman Staff that I had de­signed. The same process of plastering and painting was used as the main part of the sculpture.
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Most of the sculpture, excepting the face, is painted with acrylic antique white, the same colour as the clay. It firms the non-drying clay to the touch-and people want to touch it-and prevents dust from gripping onto the clay. Between 400 and 500 packages of one-dollar a package plasticine was used, purchased at the dollar store, I used what was close at hand, and through the years I have sculpted in white clay in my "Messages" series with salamanders and the human element as landscape because the highlights and lowlights can be so easily seen with the right lighting from many different angles, when each part is sculpted. In Morrisseau's paintings white as an indication of Spirit is also prevalent.
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The wings were much bigger when they were first designed, and eventually I re-made them smaller so that they did not detract from the main por­trait of Morrisseau. Also, I sculpted in the entire bottom portion of his self-portrait "Changing into Copper Thunderbird", but the design into sculpture translated from the painting did not work well size-wize for the sculpture, so it was scrapped.
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The film about Morrisseau made while he was alive-he was extensively interviewed-by the National Film Board served me well as I was able to secure the DVD player next to the sculpted face and stop-action the film to study the structure of his face, so he sat for me essentially. When doing portraits however, after many months of research, I sculpt the age of the sitter "between young and old" and try to achieve an "interior look", the portrait speaks to the inner life, the inner man, the artist of "thought" and connections to his work, and his intentions and connections to the people of the earth with whom he lived his life, whether known or not, universally. What was he seeking and who was he really when all is said and done? Understanding this is my main purpose as an artist-to see beneath the surface and describe the spirit-presence and translate that into clay. I feel this has been done successfully with the portrait of Norval Mdrrisseau, it will speak to the ages, and people will see themselves in it and discover a link to this man who gave his great art to the world.
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I should add that the positioning of the wings was extremely difficult, they had to be just right as far as balance of the design. The Shaman Staff also took quite a few steps, as in a dance, around the studio before finding its place. I worry now, before casting, that these positions will be exact in the final bronze.
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To honour Norval Morrisseau, after designing the sculpture/portrait I studied his paintings extensively and used them in the sculpture in my bas-relief designs, therefore I have signed the sculpture at the back along with writing, in clay, the name Morrisseau. Almost everything in bas-relief has been studied from his paintings, there could be no other way, his work is just so powerful, "it had to be done". It speaks, and, it is silent, and it connects to a source that only he had access to and that we all desire. That is why his work is so important to humanity.
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I worked on the base I built out of two-by-fours, the height I wanted him to be so that parents could hold her/his child in their arms and look into this great face. People visiting the studio like to stand directly in front of his gaze, and they are silent. There is a connec­tion. I straddled the wooden base to sculpt, and also did a lot of work on ladders. About midpoint in this process I moved my studio and hired a crew from an auction house in Stratford to move the Morrisseau-I took off the wings, from the second storey three men, two behind and one in front started down a steep stairs with the Morrisseau at an impossible angle, bolted-no screwed down to the base. Midway, the screws gave way and the top of the base disconnected from the main sculpture and the sculpture tipped-and was possibly lost-as I watched from above. It is true when they say things go into slow motion in a disastrous situation. It fell and continued falling, face forward. Then-one inch of the top of the eagle headdress caught the overhanging protrusion of ceiling on the stair and stopped, resting there for rescue. A mad rush of getting longer screws and screwdrivers to the men, and the man at the bottom using his entire body to puch against the sculpture..... and the repairs, when it reached my new studio was a small glob of clay to fill the one-inch gap at the top of the eagle headdress. A miracle.
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I am hoping that the mould needed to cast the Morrisseau can be made in my studio, because the piece is too big to leave through any door or window, it would have to be cut into pieces and although I know that is one of the processes used, I do not want that for the Morrisseau-it is too finely sculpted over these two years of work on the portrait.

Susan Murar, Sculptor
BA, MFA, AOCAD-


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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Sculpture of Norval Morrisseau by Stratford, Ontario artist Susan Murar (Part II)

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ARTIST STATEMENT
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Portrait of Norval Morrisseau-

© Susan Murar; Photography by Lucinda Jones /Click on image to Enlarge/
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"I am honouring his gift to the people of the world"
~ Susan Murar
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Throughout my years as a fine artist I have always felt that the clay I used, or the paint or the inks that I applied were 'connected' to the spirit at the core of the thing I was trying to interpret visually/artistically. The old barn sitting on the edge of a small wood, the soothsayer with the shadowed face, an avatar briefly glimpsed in the city, the storm calm or fierce blowing across the shoals speaking a foreign tongue, the busied schoolchildren, and the brooding poet, land and faces unfamiliar and sometimes too familiar all have the seeds of spirit of momentous eternities of experience- that is moods, feelings, hurts, joys, loves and connections to this physical place we call Earth.
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What is not immediately seen or studied in all its physical beauty is what I try to discover when I make art- being drawn into that quiet place, the centre, of any living thing on earth and projecting it out again to be seen on the surface with line, colour, shape, is my desire as an artist.

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These centres are filled with energies that can sometimes be found by the magic of art and artists. Everyone marvels at this magic when it embodies truth- an universal elixir.

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When working on the creation in three-dimensional form, of the artist NORVAL MORRISSEAU, I worked with the clay visually with energies in transmutation. In other words, what we would call perfection of physical form- reflecting the human element from the centres of energies that are unseen physically but connect with our personal cores of being, overwhelming us with expectations of hope, life, desire, strength, accomplishment, and the truth we search for in love with love. This evolves not only from the artist's perspective spiritually, but a joint venture between the subject, NORVAL MORRISSEAU and the sculptor. The sculptor has to understand the impossible, the essence of the life at its core of being a universal spirit-being and being guided intimately in a communi­cation between subject being sculpted and, sculptor. There is no difference between us when we cross this bridge, and an artist will understand this: "We are One".


"All is well, blessings be."
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------Norval Morrisseau--
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Susan Murar, Sculptor
BA, MFA, AOCAD-

April 2010
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