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Group Art Show Excites Interest In Vancouver

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      SEPTEMBER 1979      v09 n09 p26  
On August 26 & 27, 1979 a group of seven Saskatchewan Indian Artists exhibited ninety one objects of art at a Private showing in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The successful Art show, which excited local Art Dealers and private collectors alike, was elegantly presented at the private Estate, Casa Mia, of Doctor J. Ross Maclean of Vancouver. Casa Mia is well known across Canada as a hosting place of prestigious private events.

The art show, which was jointly presented by Doctor J. Ross Maclean and the Saskatchewan Indian Arts & Crafts Corporation, was the first attempt ever undertaken to exhibit this number of artistic creations by a group of Saskatchewan Indian Artists outside of Saskatchewan.

Robert Bellegarde
Robert Bellegarde

The private showing presented twelve works by Robert Bellegarde who is from the Little Black Bear Reserve near Balcarres, Saskatchewan. Robert does portraits of famous Indian chiefs and Elders of many tribes throughout Canada and the United States. These portraits are done in great detail by the use of pastel pencil on velour paper. Robert's work has been displayed in various places throughout Canada.

A documentary film, with Robert doing a portrait of one of our famous Indian chiefs from Saskatchewan, has been produced by the National Indian Arts and Crafts Corporation as part of a series of films, for world distribution, promoting Canadian Indian Arts & Crafts for Education and marketing promotion purposes. Although this was Robert's first major show, his work was highly praised for it's intricate detail and was taken for granted by many, who attended the art show, as work done by an artist who has had considerable training in art. But, of course Robert has had no training and like many Indian Artists is gifted with natural talent. Robert and his wife Dalphine have a seven year old daughter, who was the model of one of his portraits titled "The Princess".

Myles Charles
Myles Charles talks about life in northern Saskatchewan and its influence on his work.

Another Saskatchewan Indian Artist, Myles Charles, who is a member of the La Ronge band in Northern Saskatchewan, exhibited ten works done in oils and acrylics on canvas and also some limited edition prints. Born in La Ronge, Saskatchewan, on December 2, 1938 Myles began painting while in grade four at the Prince Albert Indian Residential School. Because of this early interest, which was noticed and encourage by his teachers in the early sixties, he was encouraged to take formal instruction. He attended the Southern Institute of Alberta Fine Arts College for a four year course. He graduated in 1968 and returned to his Birth place of La Ronge. He has, since then, continued to work in the fields connected with Northern life. He has worked for the Department of Northern Saskatchewan Resources as well as guiding for various camps and working as a sign writer. In relation to Myles creativity as a painter, his central theme revolves around sights he has seen and people he has observed in the north with scenery that one must see to appreciate. Mediums which he uses to express himself include oils, acrylic paints and stone sculpture. He sculpts using a local steatite which is known as pipestone. Although this was Myles first major showing, Art

Group Art Show Excites Interest In Vancouver

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      SEPTEMBER 1979      v09 n09 p27  
dealers and private collectors immediately noticed the diversification abilities of this complex artist and marvelled at the ease with which he can put people and nature together in a realistic manner without one out-balancing the other.

Myles also has the ability to create images which can fool even the most critical observing eye by actually creating two or more images in one and has to search hard to find these multi images. One has to only travel to Lac La Ronge to view an on going exhibition of Myles's work which adorns the walls of some local businesses. These painting are often done on a large scale, some being 8 feet x 12 feet.

Calvin Sand
Calvin Sand

Calvin Sand is a member of the Mistawasis Indian Reserve, exhibited 7 works of art. He was always interested in art but never had any formal training until he had the opportunity to work with Sarain Stump for one short year. It seems this was the kick-off to doing unique work with acrylic on hide/or on canvas with diverse effects using feathers, claws and leather. This was Calvin's first major show.

Sanford Fisher, of the Gordon Indian Reserve near Punnichy, Saskatchewan, exhibited twenty-two paintings which excited everyone with his strength in creating sceneries with colour brilliance that is rarely seen in any Canadian paintings, Fisher's style of painting is realistic, but with strong overtones. Although Sanford is entirely self-taught he possesses a technique which belies a "better than life" fabrication. Sanford has displayed or sold his paintings in such places as the Saskatchewan Power Corporation building in Regina, the Assiniboia Art Gallery in Assiniboia and has also sold many paintings to various parts of Europe. Sanford is one of a very few North American artists who has been honoured to have his work as part of a collection at the Republic of China Institute for the study of Ethnic nationalities in Peking, China. Fisher uses basically acrylics on canvas and with this medium alone he has achieved a unique technique and style which has gained him wide recognition. Sanford and his wife Myrtle have seven children and are presently residing in Regina.

John R. Halkett
John R. Halkett

John Halkett, who exhibited eleven paintings, is a Cree Indian from the La Ronge Indian Band of Northern Saskatchewan. The interests of this artist have always centered around the ways of Northern people's lives, which he began painting in 1975 and it was because of this unique portrayal done in a manner which is reminiscent of European technique of painting that caught the interest of art dealers and private collectors alike. A community college course further encouraged John to continue his interest in art in 1974. He attended the Banff School of Fine Arts taking a course in film animation. The Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College in Saskatoon led John to take their fine arts classes which he completed in 1976. He then obtained experience in other mediums of art such as silk screening, photography and various printing process. Other activities of this artist concerned his community through local radio broadcast where he was employed for two years. Throughout these years John has had three showings of his work attracting buyers from different parts of Saskatchewan as well as out of the province interest.

Currently John is employed within the Education curricula development, on his reserve, as an illustrator. By actively engaging in the Education process he feels he will encourage further understanding and preservation of the Indian culture. John is familiar with the medium of oil and acrylic paints as well as silk screening and also sculpts in stone. The major theme of his work expresses the various northern wilderness activities he has experienced.

Perhaps the best known artist who exhibited paintings at the art show was Micheal Lonechild, who is from the White Bear Reserve near Carlyle, Saskatchewan. Micheal who exhibited twenty-one works of art, completely overwhelmed everyone with his very accurate ability of making time stand still by his strong portrayal of Indian life on a reserve. The son of George and Irene Lonechild, Michael studied at schools on the White Bear reserve, the Gordon's Indian residential School and the Punnichy High School. Lonechild is basically a self-taught artist, although he is grateful to Ernest Luthi of Punnichy for his friendship and tutoring about painting. Lonechild's basic approach to painting is very similar to that of Allan Sapp of the Red Pheasant Reserve near North Battleford. That is to say, his fundamentally realistic style is given an impressionistic overlay so that a definite mood and feeling in each painting is created for the viewer. Also like Sapp, the common subject


Group Art Show Excites Interest In Vancouver

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      SEPTEMBER 1979      v09 n09 p28  
matter of Lonechild's paintings is the real life of his cree people as they carried out everyday tasks on the White Bear Reserve not so many years ago, "About the way the people used to live on the Reserve not long ago." He describes his artistic purpose as recording as much about reserve life as he can before it is lost forever. Therefore, his art is a valuable and enduring record of Indian life on a southern Saskatchewan reserve before the modern technocratic world obliterates it. Lonechild has had several very successful one-man shows in Calgary, Edmonton, Estevan, Weyburn, Regina and Carlyle. When he is not painting or tending to the affairs of his young family. He enjoys karate, trapping, ice fishing and just walking around the reserve in order to get new ideas for his canvases. Michael is married to Gwen Littlechief and they have two sons, Rene and Joseph.

Michael Lonechild
Michael Lonechild stands before one of his evocative canvasses.

Lloyd Pinay who is originally from the Peepeekisis Indian Reserve near Fort Qu'Appelle in central Saskatchewan, exhibited ten stone sculptures which promoted many gallery owners in the greater Vancouver area to offer him exhibitions and to act as exclusive dealers for his works. Lloyd, who was born on December 2, 1955 in Fort Qu'Appelle and attended school and university in six areas of the Province. First indications of his sculpting ability came in grade school where he received several first prizes for sculpture and ink drawings. Formal training included a first year art course at the University of Saskatchewan while undertaking a Biology Major course in 1975. He began sculpting in stone in Regina at this time. Central themes include the wildlife one encounters throughout Saskatchewan Portrayals of the lifestyles that once existed on the plains. As a student of history he became aware of the various Indian beliefs and legends associated with the natural lifestyle of the Plains people and their inherent closeness to nature. Through the use of realism he has expressed these connections. With the opportunity to travel throughout the province and photograph it's wildlife and natural scenes Lloyd has undertaken to sculpt in stone and wood these events. He considers working in such mediums a challenge since one cannot afford to make mistakes without destroying the image or having to rework the sculpture. A current major undertaking is to portray in stone the Indian leaders of the past who contributed to the history of the Province. Other mediums Lloyd uses are clay and oil and acrylic painting. Eventually he hopes to accomplish himself in these fields. This is Lloyd's first major exhibition although his work has been shown over much of Canada through private collectors and the television media.

James Ratt
James Ratt

James Ratt a Cree Indian from the Indian Reserve in La Ronge, Saskatchewan exhibited eight paintings. He was born on January 6, 1954 and has resided in the area all his life. His painting is almost entirely self taught with some influence from Myles Charles, another painter in the area. James is very close to his natural environment since he derives his income from trapping and fishing. In the winter he spends months on his trap-lines. During these months he is able to observe closely his natural environment, its moods and phenomena. Familiarity with these surroundings has given him an ability to appreciate and respect as well as paint the land. His abilities as a hunter and fisherman have given many jobs guiding tourists and hunters. The Familiarity has also led him to explore and record the teachings, the legends and the history of his people. He will often visit the oldest people and listen to their stories and accounts of lifestyles that have been obscured by

Group Art Show Excites Interest In Vancouver

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      SEPTEMBER 1979      v09 n09 p29  
changing times. James' knowledge of the northern people and their lifestyles is not limited to his paintings. He has recorded and illustrated many legends and practises that might otherwise have been lost. Being aware of this he presently works for the La Ronge Band Education Department. Emphasis is on including a very pertinent aspect of Indian culture in the education of younger members of the community.

Jack Drumond, Canadian Executive Services Overseas Director for Saskatchewan, was instrumentally responsible in bringing together Doctor J. Ross Maclean and the Saskatchewan Indian Arts & Crafts Corporation to jointly sponsor this art show. Mr. Drumond stated that it was a very refreshing and exciting experience to get involved, as CESO, in projects such as this because it helps one to better understand Indian people in their day to day lives and persons such as himself can then apply their services in a more realistic manner.

The Artists were thankful to have support by parties such as Alex Greyeyes, Federation of Saskatchewan Indians Director of Communications and Walter Keyes, Superintendent of Economic Development, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Affairs for the Saskatchewan region, for attending the art show.

Willard Ahenakew, President of the Saskatchewan Indian Arts & Crafts Corporation, stated that this is the first phase of a long range program which is designed to promote Saskatchewan Indian Art outside of the Province.

Herb Fiddler, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Indian Arts & Crafts Corporation had indicated that they will be having other art shows and sales in other locations.

Michael Littlechief, Saskatchewan Indian Arts & Crafts Corporation retail operations manager, was responsible for artistic direction and promotion.