Saturday, July 2, 2011


~ Reference for Morrisseau's collectors and investigators

Significant Collection of First Nations Art
@ Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario

"Onaman Legend", © 1978 Norval Morrisseau
/The HELEN E. BAND Collection - Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario/

The significance of the Helen E. Band Collection lies in the early dates and excellent quality of the works. Focusing primarily upon the 1970's and early 1980's, this collection features works by all of the major First Nations artists active during this seminal time period. A comprehensive survey of the Woodland School of painting can be found in the early works of Norval Morrisseau, Manitoulin artists such as Daphne Odjig, Blake Debassige, James A. Simon MISHIBINIJIMA, Carl Beam and Angus Trudeau, and Northwestern Ontario artists Carl Ray, Saul Williams, Goyce Kakegamic, Joshim Kakegamic, and Roy Thomas.

In 1994, the estate of the late Helen E. Band donated 138 artworks by 42 First Nations artists to the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. This collection complimented the already well-established collection of Native art at the gallery. The daughter of Toronto art collector, Charles S. Band, renowned for his collection of paintings by members of the Group of Seven, Helen Band understood both the need for specialization and the importance of acquiring the best work available. She began her collection in the early 1960's choosing Indian art as her focus. Although this was then regarded as an unconventional collecting direction, she was able to share her interest and enthusiasm with a growing number of other collectors in Toronto. Maclean's Magazine, in an article in the 1960's referred to the times as "the renaissance of Indian art."

Helen Band collected wisely and well. In 1992, she passed away suddenly at the age of sixty-nine. Her passing away was a great loss to the Canadian art scene. The impact she had on the perception and acceptance of Native art, on the artists themselves and on collections is most significant. The Helen E. Band Collection remains as tangible evidence of her dedication to contemporary First Nations art.

Note: To see some of the works from the Thunder Bay Art Gallery's Helen E. Band Collection click HERE (Thunder Bay Art Gallery) & HERE (University of Toronto's Justina M Barnicke Gallery/Hart House).-

* The image in this posting: "Onaman Legend", 53"x52", © 1978 Norval Morrisseau /"Helen E. Band Collection" of the Thunder Bay art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario, CANADA/

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