When we think of innovations in jewelry, it helps to think of a timeline – what was considered innovative and contemporary in the late 1800’s might not appear to be so avant-garde today. However, when we consider artistic innovations in Northwest Coast jewelry in the context of different time frames, a clear picture emerges of the various ways that Northwest Coast artists and their contemporaries often push(ed) boundaries by integrating new design elements and fabrication techniques into their pieces to further the progress of their art form. It is interesting to reflect on these entrepreneurs and how their reaching beyond the boundaries of tradition contributes to the advancement of what is considered innovative in the present time.
“From oral tradition… it is clear that nineteenth-century bentwood boxes and chests were as meaningful conceptually as they were important functionally. Not only did they provide a means of cooking, storing foods and valuables, and holding the remains of the dead but they also provided a symbolic way of thinking by means of the container metaphor. The container as a holder of ideas… was emphasized throughout the Northwest Coast. It was a box that the trickster/transformer Raven threw open to release light upon the world, establishing the world and its inhabitants in their present form.”
(Bill McLennan, The Transforming Image: Painted Arts of Northwest Coast First Nations, 2000, p. 129)
Collectors of Northwest Coast Art have varied and refined tastes, and these tastes are known to evolve and change as collectors fine-tune their personal acquisitions. Throughout the year, the gallery is approached by collectors seeking to make room for new pieces as their tastes change to focus on one particular region, artist, style or material. Some collectors, for example, will narrow their focus down to collecting wood, stone, fabric or jewellery while others might focus on collecting only historic works, or prints by a particular artist. As collecting needs change, we are approached with works that are new to the gallery, but that are often 30 to 100+ years old. This spring, we’re highlighting some special collections and unique historical pieces that have recently found new homes here at the gallery.
"Moon controls the tides and illuminates the dark night. Moon is also associated with transformation and is widely regarded as an important protector and guardian spirit" (Shearer, 2000: 71).
Phil Gray was born and raised in Vancouver, and has been carving since 1999. Of both Cree and Tsimshian decent, he wasn't exposed to his cultural traditions until as a teenager he joined a First Nations dance group. Dancing would become his first experience of Tsimshian culture and this, along with his continued participation in ceremonial traditions, has strongly informed his work and career as an artist. His is some of the most creative, innovative and paradoxically traditional art in the contemporary Northwest Coast art world.
We celebrated our 19th anniversary as a gallery this April and, as we enter our 20th year, we've decided to use the next few newsletters as a retrospective, focusing on a few of the major recurring themes that we've encountered over the years. This newsletter will look at collections. We've been a part of the development of some wonderful Northwest Coast private and public collections over the years. Some images of our favourites are below.
Happy New Year, we hope you've had a restful holiday season! To welcome you to 2014, we'd like to introduce the newest monumental aluminium edition by Robert Davidson. This piece is based on a maquette that Davidson released in 2009 with the same title, T'samuus (Sea Monster). This one is a ten foot tall structure that was definitely a fun piece to install and unveil (pictures below).
Hello and Happy Holidays! We're trying to make gift giving a little easier this year and so have made a page on our website under "collections" with a series of holiday gift suggestions. There are gifts starting at $30 and for all sorts of people on your list. Just click the image below and it will take you right to the page. It's a great chance to get something that's made locally and to support Northwest Coast artist's work. Almost everything in the gallery was made from in and around the B.C. Coast.
In this newsletter we'd like to highlight some important Northwest Coast exhibitions that are coming up in the next two months. The exhibit Charles Edenshaw, will be at the Vancouver Art Gallery between October 26, 2013 and February 2, 2014. It will focus on the life's work of this renowned Haida artist and is the first major survey of Edenshaw's art. Born in 1839 Edenshaw lived in one of the most tumultuous and disruptive times for First Nations people in Canada, but it was during this time that he made some of the most creative and exquisite pieces that are known to the Northwest Coast. His work helped to define the Haida aesthetic and it continues to influence Northwest Coast art today.
In this newsletter we wanted to introduce our new website to you and to let you know about a few things happening in the gallery.
When we were thinking about how we wanted the new website to look, one of our highest priorities was that it be clear and easy to use. As well, we wanted something that really showcased the amazing work that comes through our doors. We're happy with the results and feel that the new format allows for a more comprehensive experience of the work. Along with the website, we've built a new photography studio and upgraded our equipment to ensure that our images are clear and detailed. There is an enormous amount of content to upload, but our priority was to be up and running - so keep checking regularly as new content is added almost daily.
Well as you can see our new website is up and running. Please bear with us as we iron out any kinks that may have arisen at launch.
We have been working hard with our web developers, The Still Brandworks, to insure that we have developed a site that is functional, easy to navigate and as problem free as possible. Developing a new site however is quite a process, and we are still working on re-photographing artworks and adjusting what needs adjusting.
Please take a browse as everything comes together.
Ask Douglas Reynolds, owner of the Douglas Reynolds Gallery on South Granville, what he has planned for his Saturday night, and one gets a peek at what it's like to be a member of Vancouver's fine art society. First stop, the Vancouver Art Gallery's 2012 auction, where Reynolds has donated a $30,000 carving. Then, it's off to the Cuban ballet at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre (Reynolds is one of the corporate sponsors), followed by drinks with the Cuban dancers and crew.