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Art Shaped By The North: Gary Natomagan

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      WINTER 1997      v27 n04 p36  
Artist Gary Natomagan Walking the trapline with his father provided Gary Natomagan vivid life experience with the animal world. This experience has translated into startling representations of wildlife that began his formal career as an artist.

In practical terms, Natomagan has been flirting with art since he was a young boy. His creativity first displayed itself in school art classes when he was a nine-year old in Pinehouse Lake, Saskatchewan. However, his talent was left undeveloped until he was older. This self-taught artist began looking seriously at art following nine years as a stock clerk.

He began marketing his work slowly, agreeing to design the logo for a local sports team. This exposure led to more jobs as people gradually recognized his talent. Lifelong friend Glen McCallum was one of the people who quickly realized Natomagan's potential. As a result, he agreed to promote Natomagan's artwork.

With samples in hand, the two approached the Red Pheasant Outfitters Camp and began selling Natomagan's work to mostly American clients of the company. The base of clientele has grown to include major Saskatchewan mining corporations and businesses from outside of the province.

Based on a chance encounter, Natomagan has now formed a joint venture with Summit Marketing in Saskatoon. The company is working with the Cree artist and McCallum to introduce and promote the artwork. Natomagan has recently developed a number of logos through Summit, including the company's own.

Howard Gesy, co-owner of Summit, says Natomagan's talent was obvious. "Gary has so much potential," he says. Gesy believes the partnership will prove to be a long relationship that benefits both Summit and Natomagan.

In addition to his commercial work, Natomagan has continued with images of wildlife. McCallum says that he believes much of Natomagan's passion for art comes from his northern background and his history with wildlife. However, the artist has begun to branch out into areas that reflect his heritage. Over the past few years his work has consisted of cultural pieces, portraits and graphic design in addition to the wildlife images that launched his career.

He uses a number of substances in creating his art. Paint, charcoal, colouring pencils, acrylic and ink are but a few. And while he generally uses traditional surfaces, he has created images on several that are out of the ordinary including canoes and rocks.

Natomagan has been lucky in being surrounded by people who support him and his talent. In addition to McCallum, Natomagan's family has stood by the development of his career. His father always encouraged his desire, telling him to follow his heart. When faced with the dilemma of leaving his birthplace and "comfort zone" to pursue his work full-time in Saskatoon, Natomagan's father was one of the first to tell him to follow his dream. "You should commit yourself to your artwork," he said.

Based on this advice, Natomagan took the plunge and made the move to Saskatoon about four months ago. His career is now taking off. "I'm very happy I made the change," he says.

He is content now to sell his work throughout western Canada but his goal is to establish his own full-time art gallery. This dream would see him located in Saskatoon with a broad base of clients.

Natomagan's work is currently available through his Manager, Glen McCallum, at (306) 249-3281 or through Summit Marketing Inc. at (306) 477-4554.

[From Sask. Indian cover: 'The Hunter']
Gary Natomagan's 'The Hunter'