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Forty-One Native Artists Participate In Saskatoon Art Auction

Betty Ann Adam

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      MARCH 1988      p26  
The Third Annual Native Art Auction was held in Saskatoon's Ramada Renaissance Hotel on Wednesday, February 17. The show was sponsored and coordinated by Neyo Native Development Projects, a non-profit organization promoting Saskatchewan Native artists.

41 artists submitted 83 pieces to be auctioned to raise money for the John Howard Society. According to Ernest Lavalley, the show's coordinator and an employee of the John Howard Society, the sale prices were down from previous years, in spite of this year's increased publicity. He suggested that the sluggish economy may be to blame. Another reason for the low sale prices of pieces by nationally recognized artists such as Norval Mirriseau, David B. Williams, Ken Lonechild, and Lloyd Pinay may be the public's need for education of the art's value.

Last year, as well, there were art dealers in attendance from Winnipeg and Edmonton, whereas this year only one local art dealer attended the auction. According to Lavalley, the one thousand dollar winning bid for Lloyd Pinay's white alabaster bird sculpture is an example of exceptional work being sold for below its market value at the sale. Pinay's sculptures are popular in New Mexico, Texas and California where such pieces go for several thousand dollars.

The highest price paid for a painting was $335 for John Turo's acrylic "Giving Birth". Turo's work is better known in the territories and in Alberta. He hopes his pieces here will increase as his name spreads.

One painter who was satisfied with the price her piece brought, was Sharon Moberly, whose "The Woman Who Hunts For Her Child" brought the shows second highest price for a painting. Moberly has contributed work to previous auctions, but this was only her second painting.

"Its good to watch an artist's work maturing," said Lavalley. He was especially impressed with Moberly's use of bold colours, new themes and evocative titles.

Lavalley and Irene Fraser of Neyo Native are still optimistic and will continue their work in Saskatchewan. "Many Saskatchewan Native artists look forward to the auction now. For many its the only place they have to sell their work," said Lavalley.

Neyo Native will continue to organize monthly showings of Saskatchewan Native artists in public buildings such as those which were recently hung in the SNEDCO and INAC buildings in Regina.

Another recent project was a workshop in La Ronge, March 18 and 19 which was aimed at artists with little or no formal training.

Another major event for Saskatchewan Native Artists is the juried art competition currently being held in Saskatoon. Artists were asked to submit three pieces, one of which was chosen for the competition. The prizes will be $3000 for the first place winner and $2000 and $1000 for the second and third places respectively. The deadline date for entries is April 30, but to encourage artists to submit their works earlier, a draw was made March 30 and another will be made April 15, with prizes of art supplies. These winners are still eligible for the juried competition.

The entries will be displayed in galleries around Saskatoon and although the organizers will pay for return of unsold pieces to the artists after the show, artists are responsible for getting their works to the organizers. All money from the sales will go to the artists. Neyo Native will not take an agent's fee. They are expecting a large turn-out and are grateful to the Gabriel Dumont Institute and INAC for financial assistance.

For further information contact Ernest Lavalley or Irene Fraser at Neyo Native Development Projects, 95 Lindsay Drive, Saskatoon or call 244-0130.