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Artist Allen Sapp

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      DECEMBER 1996      v26 n01 p36  
Allen Sapp Allen Sapp, a member of the Red Pheasant First Nation, demonstrated a talent for painting at an early age. He grew up with his grandmother who always encouraged him to continue his painting. She believed that one day he would become a fine artist.

Despite discouragement from some people who felt that he was wasting his time, Sapp has gone on to become just that. Today, the 67-year old is internationally acclaimed for his paintings.

Unlike many other First Nation artists who prescribe to symbolism in their artwork, Sapp uses a realistic style that depicts a traditional way of life on the prairies. He draws on his own memories from early childhood to create his art. His paintings demonstrate his love for life, family and his people.

These feelings are apparent in the painting featured on the cover of this issue of Saskatchewan Indian, entitled "Playing Hockey at Sundown." After supper and when the sun was going down was a good time to play outside. A little bit of ice behind the house would be all that was needed for a few children to play hockey.

In another of his paintings, "Lots of Wood for Everyone", Sapp recalls an earlier time, before he was a full-time artist, when he gathered wood to sell. He describes the feeling of cutting down poplar trees and gathering them together. He explains how to feather them to start a fire and the smell of the logs once they are burning.

In an era of technology and changing times, Sapp strives to capture and preserve these forgotten scenes of Saskatchewan First Nations heritage for generations to come. He says that he values the past and wants to share it with others. His ability to recall early memories and his attention to detail combine to create the vivid imagery of his paintings.

His talent and dedication to his work have brought him many honours. Allen Sapp has received the Saskatchewan Award of Merit and the Saskatchewan Arts Board's Lifetime Award for Excellence in the Arts. He is an officer of the Order of Canada and a Member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

Allen Sapp was honoured by First Nations people in August 1996 at the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Legislative Assembly for his recent induction into the Saskatchewan Art Hall of Fame. Saskatchewan's Chiefs formally recognized Sapp's contributions and achievements.

Sapp believes that his success comes from hard work, perseverance and respect for who he is and where he came from. He continues to contribute to his community and culture. Sapp is a traditional dancer and takes pride in remaining active in Pow wows.

The artwork of Allen Sapp is available in galleries throughout Canada and in two books he has published entitled Two Spirits Soar and I Heard the Drums.