November 14, 2013

Bearspaw by Maureen Flynn-Burhoe




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12″ x 24″
Acrylic on Gallery Canvas
Shown in Federation of Canadian Artists exhibition Calgary Branch

It was a cool fall evening and the rolling foothills of the Rockies were still an enigma to me. I was still learning the names of plants like silverberry (also known as wolf willow), which were used by the Blackfoot. Its shades of grey differed from those of the ubiquitous poplar. I wanted to capture the rich tapestry of textures in the colours unique to the foothills. I wanted to capture the shapes carved in geological time as the glaciers melted, cutting furrows and creating the Bow River with its origins in the distant Rockies. I was beginning to learn the names of the peaks, the High Rock Mountains to the left and the distinctive Devil’s Head to the right. I could see a scattering of people, families, some walking thier dogs, meandering along the winding trails, becoming miniaturized the farther they went. The gullies were deep as they reached the bottom their voices could be heard as if from some strange space. It was cold and I was wearing my Dicken’s painting gloves and was wrapped in blanket. As usual I was chasing the light. The most dramatic light for painting is that half light when the sun is setting or rising. But as every plein air artist know, one has to work quickly to catch the rapidly changing light. I returned a second evening and then finished the details in my home studio. During that period I was listening to a very dark apocalyptic novel, Blind, and I was playing it in the background as I painted at home. It had an impact on the mood of the painting. But the sunburst provided that sense of hope on the distant horizon. Very Sturm und Drang


Silverberry, Wolf Willow, Misisaimi’soyiis (Blackfoot), Binomial name: Elaeagnus commutata

For more about Blackfoot see Glenbow Museum. (2005).  Nitsitapiisinni Exhibit. Calgary, Alberta: Blackfoot Gallery Committee

Photo of Silverberry on Flickr

See Plein Air Gallery

© 2013 Art by Maureen Flynn-Burhoe. Last updated October 2013.

When I worked at the National Gallery of Canada as contract art educator in the 1990s I remember viewing an art clip in which the videographer chased a plastic bag in a mundane urban setting as it was picked up by the breeze and eventually carried out over the waters. The sound track consisted of transient noises including the videographer’s breathing and footsteps which increased in intensity when the breeze picked up.

This Noruz film directed by Ramin Bahrani entitled Plastic Bag (2009) expands on this concept into a 20 minute saga narrated by Werner Herzog who gives a dramatic rendering of the journey from its creation, discovery of its purpose, the meaning of its existence, finding love and freedom, then eternal entrapment in the plastic vortex with 100 million plastic objects in the Pacific Ocean.

Blue Gold, Calgary

January 24, 2011

This spot on the Bow River is familiar to Parkdale residents and to those who regularly bike, jog or walk the Bow River pathway. The CP train runs along the edge of the escarpment where the two bare poplar trees stand. This painting was technically challenging. I wanted to capture the intensity of sunlight through autumn clouds and reflected in the water. I wanted the Escherian Three Worlds effect in the pebbles and rocks seen on the dry shore, in shallow water, underwater and interrupting light reflections on the surface of the water. The red branches of the Arctic dwarf willow were important to me not just aesthetically but also for their essential ecological role in the protection of the shoreline. Poplar and aspen trees are ubiquitous on the Calgary landscape. Fallen poplar leaves lie on the shore and in the water.

The photograph of the original painting was taken by VERDI Photography.

Maureen Flynn-Burhoe, Blue Gold, Calgary, Acrylic on Canvas, 24" x 36",

A Golden Moment

December 16, 2010

Federation of Canadian Artists Juried Exhibition Human Figure:

Federation of Canadian Artists Gallery
1241 Cartwright Street, Vancouver, BC Canada V6H 4B7 Map
February 8 – 20, 2011
Gallery is located on the east side of Granville Island, across from the Granville Island Hotel and Performance Works, 1241 Cartwright Street.
Regular Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00am – 4:00pm

A Golden Moment

Golden Moment

Maureen Flynn-Burhoe
Acrylic on canvas
22" x 24"

Geographic situation of inquiry into the Inuit art knowledge community

The geographic space encompassed by this stage in my research project stretches north and south to include northern hinterlands and southern heartlands. The producers of Inuit art reside mainly in hamlets that sparsely dot the landscapes of Labrador, Nunavik, Nunavut and the Western Arctic. There are some organizations, institutions and activities in the North that produce and disseminate narratives that contribute to the Inuit art knowledge community. In the North, oral presentations, museum exhibitions, Nunavut Arctic College, commercial dealers produce information, documentation that informs that Inuit art knowledge community. Some researchers communicate with Inuit artists by telephone, email and through other distance communications. Others travel to northern hamlets to gather ‘data’ for theses, dissertations, reports and programs. However, most published material is produced, disseminated and consumed by and for outsiders in the south.

Dismantling the exotic myth of the North: The north as a relevant concept. Iqaluit is not really as isolated, as cold, as small as one might expect!

Iqaluit is only a three hour flight from Ottawa on a comfortable, First Air jet, with excellent service! As we travel north the aerial view reveals a rumpled snow blanket that covered everything. It was no longer white, but soft pinks and blues with touches of yellow where the late afternoon sun caught the snow drifts and snow‑covered hills. Hudson Strait was a flat, frozen white mass. Cliffs along the shore cast long, blue shadows like fingers stretching towards Baffin Island. Farther out over the straight I could see patches of openings in the ice where clear water was visible. As we approached Iqaluit, the landscape changed. Coastal winds from the eastern shore seemed to scrape the soft surface snow away revealing hard icy or rocky surfaces below. Nearer the town, antennas and satellite dishes, these contemporary inukshualuk, dotted the hills surrounding the airfield. As we landed I couldn’t tell where the warehouses, hangars and airport buildings ended and Iqaluit itself began. The architecture of many of the buildings was functional, not aesthetic,  more like army barracks that it used to host, than a capital city.

The descent into Iqaluit reveals a tiny capital spread out along four miles of Koosejee Inlet.  In spite of its relatively small population of seven thousand, the boom in population growth propelled by its status as Canada’s newest capital city, has provoked a housing crisis unparalleled in Canada. Today curved lines of houses, supported  on stilt‑like piles buried in the permafrost, trace irregular paths up the hills that surround the Inlet. Many homes and apartments, designed as single family dwellings, have been informally transformed to accommodate family members, friends and paying boarders. Even professionals open extra rooms to boarders who share scant housing.

The homes perched at the top of these hills enjoy a panoramic view of the islands in the Inlet and the Peninsula across the water.  These sections of town called Tundra Valley and the Road to Nowhere provide the best views of the surrounding area and are not surprisingly the area Iqaluitmiut identify as upper class.  Except in these newer areas, exclusive use of private property seems to be an ambiguous concept. In the areas inhabited by the lower classes, such as the Beaches, informal trails tightly encircle almost every home, providing bikes, snowmobiles and walkers with limitless shortcuts and making landscape and fence‑building a delicate negotiation.

Frobisher Bay: a colonialist not‑so‑distant past

Frobisher Bay was a highly segregated community. Apex to the east of town was the Inuit residential area. Only three decades ago young Inuit children walked the three miles to school from their homes in Apex to the elementary school in Iqaluit even in temperatures of ‑40 degrees! A contemporary northern myth affirms that the colonialism in the north was relatively benign. In reality Inuit have been cast into the minority status in Nunavut. In every social institution, Inuit values have been replaced by the dominant western value‑system.  This does not mean that the majority of Inuit have adopted these values. However, the modus operandi of northern institutions reflect the dominant values of the southern market economy. Education in the North does not respond to the real needs of the Inuit in the North. This leads to a cognitive and learning gap with widespread consequences. There is an assumption that there is only one way of perceiving progress and growth. It is more reflection of a corporate vision than an Inuit vision.

Iqaluit, Nunavut:

It is a desert region surrounded by water. Strong sunlight has become a concern. It is narrated as an exotic, isolated, pristine, northern frontier. The Road to Nowhere is officially marked on maps of Iqaluit and included on taxi tours of this northern capital. The self-mocking de-locational indicator  ‘nowhere’ is turned on its head becoming the Road to Everywhere, when viewed from the standpoint of a circumpolar map.  In reality Iqaluit is a hub of northern activities with a nonstop flow of expert outsiders, government workers, consultants, travelers, tourists and people on transit to other northern communities.

Many hamlets are still ninety percent Inuit. However, both Iqaluit and Cambridge Bay, are composed of 30% non‑Inuit. Iqaluit, Nunavut,  is a complex community governed by three layers of government. Indigenous peoples worldwide are watching Nunavut and the unfolding of this experiment in indigenous governance and sovereignty.  At the same time, deeply entrenched government bureaucracies challenge more equitable social change with paralyzing, counter productive responses.

There is an epidermic respect paid to the role of IQ in the Nunavut government. But the unwritten whispers in the hallways and over coffee call for a return of the ‘corporate dinosaurs,’ with quick, decisive action and a ‘firmer grip on reality.’ They question if there is a specific way of knowing that is IQ. They confide in each other the belief that the knowledge of the Inuit elders is outdated. The work of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth, in educating and integrating IQ into everyday government operations, is a challenging, uphill struggle.  Their job is not only to convince the outside world of the validity of IQ in the contemporary northern landscape. They must also quell the murmurs that abound within the walls of Nunavut government offices. These myths that IQ is outdated, are reinforced by an overwhelming group think that maintains the status quo.

Grounding through sound: A Polyglot Community

In Iqaluit everyday life unfolds in a sound‑scape of three accent‑textured languages, Inuktitut, English and French.  Social classes span language and cultural lines. There are distinct social classes evident within the Inuit community.

Hearing diversity

Accents in three languages reveal newcomers geographic origins. Among Inuit, the varying levels of mastery of Inuktitut and English, flavoured with distinct accents in Inuktitut from smaller hamlets, separate a small community into even smaller nodes. English is lightened by the Inuit, Newfoundland, Maritime, Irish and Finnish accents. French is heard everywhere, in coffee shops, restaurants and stores, and frequently, in taxis, as most cab drivers are recruited in Quebec. It is ironic that Environment Canada’s weather channel which provides blizzard warnings was recently made available in French as well as English. It is not yet available in Inuktitut.

On alienation and belonging in a complex society

Iqaluit is not a homogenous community. Inuit now residing in Iqaluit come from communities across the north. These ‘outsiders’ may feel a sense of alienation and ‘otherness’ that plays out in schoolyard bullying, adult shunning, gossip and feelings of homesickness. Acquiring the status of ‘belonging’ in Iqaluit can be a lengthy process. One can remain there as a ‘tourist’ and outsider for several years before being recognized as a community member, insider or northerner.

The politics of naming

There are few street names. Every building is identified by a number that is not necessarily in numerical order. Taxi drivers learn them all. For some Iqaluit residents the concept of street names is a southern importation that is just another irritating example of the politics of naming.

The Inuit art market: producers, Co‑ops, dealers, consumers

The origin of northern co‑ops is linked to the Inuit art boom of the 1960’s. In a number of northern communities, co‑op’s continue to purchase carvings and drawings from local artists.

The changing of the guard

Terry Ryan remained as Co‑op manager in Cape Dorset for over three decades. His continuous presence and his quiet passion for Inuit art, provided a partnership with Inuit artists that helped the West Baffin Print Shop and Co‑op to flourish.

Arctic Co‑operatives: Groceries, snow machines, fuel, furniture

Contemporary Co‑Op managers are more likely to be interested in the more lucrative and less sensitive and demanding markets in commodities such as fuel, groceries, furnishings, etc. and less committed to Inuit art as an integral part of the Co‑op organization. Inuit artists, like any other artist, craftsmen or small businessmen, may not always be easy to work with!

Art‑while‑you‑wait, tourists and cruise ships

In some cases dealers, local customers and tourist‑collectors, request very specific subjects. Tourists off the cruise ships who arrive for very brief visits in small hamlets, have very specific ideas of what they want to purchase. They will make specific requests, for example for Sedna carvings or polar bears. In the case of dealers they may also request specific forms and poses for example in the shape of the wings of a bird or the angle of the neck of a bird.

Art dealers, commercial galleries and stables of artists

Art dealers and commercial galleries operate by maintaining close working relationships with specific artists. In the best arrangements, both dealers and artists benefit. The price of a work of art is split with about 60% going to the dealer and 40% to the artist. The high cost of maintaining expensive commercial gallery spaces, art show openings, invitations, on‑going press coverage, advertisements, etc. and the risk that the artist’s work might not sell, is compensated in the high commission the dealer receives.  In some cases, commercial galleries produce exhibition catalogues and information about the artist’s life, career and individual works of art. The prestige of the artist, and therefore the value of her/his work, is increased by this association with reliable, recognized professional art dealers. It provides the artist with a sense of security and a focus for production. Galleries demand a certain number of works from the artists in their stables.

Shopping centre‑style commercial art galleries

Galleries and dealers vary. There are the shopping centre‑style commercial galleries whose focus is purely commercial. These galleries insist on quantity and a certain predictable uniformity in the artist’s production. Mechanically produced reproductions are sold at prices similar to limited edition prints.

Fine Art galleries

Fine Art galleries attempt to varying degrees to diffuse works of art that contribute to some extent to the fresh and original. They are more comfortable with a continuity in style that evolves and changes rather than abruptly taking on completely new paths. The focus is still on sales. In some of these galleries, the framing is arranged by the gallery but the artists pay for the frames of unsold works. Frames for a medium‑sized art work can be as much as $500.

Art dealers and stables of Inuit artists

Some art dealers live and work from a northern base. Much like southern galleries, they maintain a stable of artists whose work they regularly purchase. They provide stone and tools. The size and hardness of the stone impacts on the size and nature of the carving.

The artists who are part of a stable, may feel that the price they are receiving is unacceptably low. In one case L. E. reported selling a piece for $200 that was sold almost immediately to a European collector for $700. They prefer to sell directly.

Inuit art on the menu and on the run

To the frustration of the professional art dealers and the delight of Inuit artists, the parallel market of direct sales is quite lucrative. Inuit artists are among the only Canadian artists who can produce and sell work on the same day. Artists sell their work from table to table in hotel restaurants, in lobbies of public buildings, at workplaces and/or door‑to‑door in Iqaluit, often through the intermediary of relatives and friends. These purchases which routinely sell for hundreds of dollars, are still a fraction of the cost of one of these works in a southern gallery.

Triage: Fine Art, gift or souvenir?

In the co‑op’s there is a system of subjective but informed triage. Certain works are sent to the more prestigious galleries, such as Dorset Fine Arts and southern auctions organized by Arctic Producers. There public and commercial galleries as well as individual collectors purchase the most expensive and the most valued works by the most highly recognized artists. Seasoned collectors also chose reliable galleries such as the Marion Scott in Vancouver, when making their purchases of Inuit art.  Even before carvings leave the North, certain works have been chosen for the larger market aimed at the tourist‑collector and often destined for gifts and souvenir shops. Prices for the carvings vary from $50 to $200. Artists, whose sustained production, has captured the attention of collectors, produce work that is sold in gallery settings for over $1000. Wall‑hangings average $800 for a large‑sized tapestry. Inuit prints routinely sell for $250 ‑ $500.

Myths and delusions: Inuit artists and their dealers

On the part of both management and artist, there seems to be little understanding of the larger workings of the world of art in which a sculpture or print can become an investment with the potential of increased value through time.

Art collectors: Motivations and standards for acquisition: the passionate collector, art as sound investment, the museum piece, the ideal gift for your Japanese business partner

Inuit art collectors: Inuit art is appreciated at home, in Nunavut.

Original Inuit art works now enhance the living spaces of private homes and public places in Iqaluit. Private collectors hold pieces that would be the envy of curators of public collections. The Nunavut Legislative Building takes pride in the tasteful exhibition and rotation of fine examples of contemporary Inuit art. Hotels and restaurants highlight prints, wall‑hangings and sculptures. The streets of Iqaluit are filled with walking art. Outer clothing, custom‑made by skilled textile artists in Iqaluit, reflects a heightened sense of design, innovation and creativity. Finely crafted silver, ivory, baleen and antler miniature works of art in the form of jewelry are sold in stores, on the streets, worn and admired.

Inuit art easier to purchase on the street than in a gallery in Iqaluit

Unfortunately, in Iqaluit there is no one accessible place where quality Inuit art can be purchased. There are two commercial galleries where the lack of interest of the staff perfectly mirrors the lack‑lustre collection of works for sale. There is one dealer who will show works by appointment. Nunavut Arctic College Arts and Crafts have begun a monthly sale which seems to be quite successful. Artists bring their own work to sell.

The consumers of Inuit art objects are part of a large international community with galleries in France, Germany, Belgium, the United States and Canada. There are a number of small but respected centres of teaching, learning and research with a focus on Inuit art.

The passionate collector

The passionate art collector who purchases works of art based on a resonance between the work and himself/herself is a gift to the art community. Public collections have been enhanced by inheritance of these collections intact.

The collector as investor

Collectors interested in purchasing a work that is not only pleasing to them, but potentially a sound art investment, depend on information about the market, the artist, the artist’s oeuvres gleaned from art dealers, exhibitions, art books and travel.

The dream of a lucrative investment

The highest purchase price for an Inuit print was over $50, 000.  The 1967 print Enchanted Owl by Kenojuak, heralded an era described by some as the golden age of Inuit art. Kenojuak’s prolific and unbroken career as a gifted artist spans three decades and has been well‑documented in film as well as in prized art books. Collectors yearn for the collectible that may one day soar in value. An artist’s death may be greeted with pleasure by dealers  and collectors whose collections increase in value as the rarity of the objects increased.

Inuit artists are aware of the discrepancy between the price received at the time of the initial sale and the price of certain works of art through appreciation.

Artists are dismayed that the work sold in the early years for a pittance is worth more than they would make in a year. There is a sense of mistrust between artist and dealer. The dealer may feel artists are not sufficiently appreciative of the art market and the value of ongoing promotion in which they are constantly involved. The artist feels he/she is being underpaid for their work. The subject matter of Inuit art work reflects an intense symbiotic relationship to the northern ecosystem. Artists take pleasure in discussing the tools with which they work, the choice of stones, the organization of their studios (if they are fortunate enough to have them), details of the geographic location and seasonal attributes, which inspired a particular work. But the actual working conditions under which the Inuit artist works, reflects a market mentality. They are also willing to discuss these conditions which embitter some artists and lead to mistrust of the Inuit art system.

Acquisition policies for public collections

Public museums and galleries, such as the National Gallery of Canada, have stringent policies for acquisitions. Collections are built around themes such as Early Canadian art, First Nations art, Modern Canadian art and Inuit art. Within each of these categories curators attempt to acquire works that reveal pivotal aspects of the theme around which the collection has been built. Similarly to academic work, the question is asked, “What has this artist accomplished and/or does this work represent that is new, original, to the field, that is new knowledge?” Within these categories specific artists are selected for a more in‑depth representation.

Canada’s professional visual artists: managing the contemporary career

Artists, whose works are finally collected by the National Gallery, have become part of the larger conversation about art, by actively producing and exhibiting in provincial, national and international venues. Their work is inserted into contemporary discourse in academia, in art reviews, in art journals. They have exhibited in juried exhibitions.

The role of documentation in the career of the contemporary visual artist

Usually contemporary artists substantiate their claim to professional artist status through a thorough documentation of their work. Applications for grants and submissions for exhibitions and competitions require text‑based and visual documentation. Slides of works are produced and stored. Press books are maintained. The artist’s curriculum vitae is kept up to date. Individual curators research the artist’s biography, including exhibition career, publications. The concern is not with the marketability of the work of art as much as the contribution to the ‘knowledge’ community in which the artist is working. Is the artist contributing to the production of new knowledge about art by providing a fresh idea or object that stimulates a fresh, innovative, original way of thinking, a new way of seeing, perceiving, reading and/or relating to his/her environment?

The profile of professional contemporary visual artists

Numerous artists graduate from art schools without a motivation to enter the commercial art market. The goal is to produce original works of art that contribute to a larger, more enduring conversation about art, a discourse that is tied intricately to theory, literature, philosophy… In reputable art schools, students study theory as much as techniques. Aspiring artists are challenged to think as artists not merely to produce works that look like art. These artists subsist by teaching art, working at a job that is not‑related to the arts, maintaining a studio production, applying for exhibition and project grants, and working as part of artists’ co‑operatives and/or alternative galleries. Visual artists are among the lowest wage earners in the country.

Why produce art?

It is astounding to witness the results of the Arctic Youth Arts Initiative, an ambitious project to bring painting into the lives of Inuit. Beth McKenty has been going into local schools and community centres in Iqaluit and Clyde River with good quality paints and paper in minute quantities. Using postcard size papers she encourages children, adults and elders to paint what they feel. Invariably the results are a visual feast. These artists can describe, using kitchen‑table poetry, complex feelings and imaginary worlds they inhabit or that inhabit them. They are no different from any art activity undertaken by any group where barriers to creativity have not yet been erected. The painting becomes addictive with groups requesting again and again for a repeat of the activity.

Art in schools in Iqaluit

Yet in Iqaluit, except for this volunteer initiative,  art is not actively encouraged in grade schools or high school. Drum dancing is being taught in one fortunate school where a well‑respected Inuit, knowledgeable in traditional ways, actively seeks to incorporate Inuit culture into the curriculum.

The profile of contemporary Inuit artists

While there are exceptions, many Inuit artists seem to be uni‑lingual Inuktitut speakers. This makes it more challenging for researchers who wish to interview the artists. The activity of carving is not considered as a career but as a way of making money. There is virtually no difference between the production of skilled craftswomen who design and sew sealskin kamiks, mittens, hats and jackets. The cost of living in Iqaluit is artificially high.  One of the local artists who was brought up by two very well‑known Cape Dorset artists, lived at the homeless shelter next door to where I was living. Everyday he worked outside in temperatures that ranged from ‑30 to 0 degrees. He sat on a piece of plywood and worked non‑stop for hours using stone provided by his art dealer, David. I could hear the buzz of power tools, and see him carving, sanding and polishing. I bought a couple of pieces that I later realized were not that good. I had the impression that his skill far outweighed the effort he made in these pieces. I looked up his name on the Internet. He was there with photos of his art work and a description of an exhibition in France!

The boom, government salaries and inflated prices

Federal and Nunavut public servants earn salaries two and three times what they could anticipate in southern urban centres. These employees also enjoy extended vacations in the south with in some cases, several round trips tickets a year. They are able to purchase the more expensive items while in the south and further cut the cost of living in the north. Federal and Nunavut governments provide housing for their employees and pay inflated prices for rents. For those who do not qualify for housing, the cost of rental is about twice the cost of a major urban centre. A house rents for $2500 a month, a room in a house for $500‑$1,000. The high costs are reflected in every purchase from clothing to food. Yet a single person on Social Assistance in the north collects less than $400 a month.

L’art, pourquoi faire?

Creating works of art for personal fulfillment, as a means of authentic expression, to enhance understanding of contemporary theories, to

Narrating Inuit art: Who is the intended audience?

Wilson Duff’s dystopia

February 23, 2010

The World Is As Sharp As A Knife
“There are no laws,
which you can trust to work.
There are just rules,
which you must make to work.
In the one hand,
you are holding the mirror.
On the other hand,
you are the mask.
Put on the mask and look in the mirror.
What you see
(the mirror does not lie)
is that which is common to both,
the truth you can believe (Wilson Duff).'”
1763, “[While Chief Pontiac and the Ottawa tribe lay siege to Fort Pitt, Lord Jeffrey Amherst, commanding general of British forces, Colonel Henry Bouquet, Captain Ecuyer, and Commander William Trent conspired to intentionally infect the tribe with smallpox via blankets, handkerchiefs, and linen. While the practical ramifications of this act are disputed, the historical significance of one of the first documented acts of directed biological warfare is staggering.” Singh, Rondeep. “Smallpox in the Americas: from Imperial to Germ Warfare.” The University of Western Ontario
1770 30% of West Coast Native Americans were killed in a smallpox epidemic.
1800s-1850 At their largest, the Haida numbered 8,000 in the first half of the 19th century. But after suffering through the ravages of foreign diseases such as smallpox their numbers dwindled. The Haida observe an ancestry of matriarchal lineage. Families are divided into subgroups of eagles and ravens according to their mother’s ancestral lines. Renowned for their expert fishing abilities and techniques, the Haida are also celebrated for their exquisite crafts and carvings.
1800-1801 Smallpox epidemic among the eastern Puget Sound Indians (Sources: Robert Boyd, The Coming of the Spirit of Pestilence (Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 1999), 22-24, 27-30, 34, 36-37, 55, 204-205, 273, 293-295; Menzies’ Journal of Vancouver’s Voyage April to October, 1792 ed. by C. F. Newcombe (Victoria, B.C.: Printed by William H. Cullin, 1923), 29, 53-63; George Vancouver, A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific and Round the World … Vol. 2 (London: G. G. and J. Robinson, 1798), p. 229-230, 241-242; Peter Puget, “Log of the Discovery. May 7-June 11, 1792,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 2 (1939), p. 198; Robert T. Boyd, George M. Guilmet, David L. Whited, Nile Thompson, “The Legacy of Introduced Disease: The Southern Coast Salish” American Indian and Culture and Research Journal Vol. 15, No. 4 (1991), p. 7-8, 11.
1862 Smallpox epidemic among the eastern Puget Sound Indians (Sources: Robert Boyd, The Coming of the Spirit of Pestilence (Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 1999), 22-24, 27-30, 34, 36-37, 55, 204-205, 273, 293-295; Menzies’ Journal of Vancouver’s Voyage April to October, 1792 ed. by C. F. Newcombe (Victoria, B.C.: Printed by William H. Cullin, 1923), 29, 53-63; George Vancouver, A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific and Round the World … Vol. 2 (London: G. G. and J. Robinson, 1798), p. 229-230, 241-242; Peter Puget, “Log of the Discovery. May 7-June 11, 1792,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 2 (1939), p. 198; Robert T. Boyd, George M. Guilmet, David L. Whited, Nile Thompson, “The Legacy of Introduced Disease: The Southern Coast Salish” American Indian and Culture and Research Journal Vol. 15, No. 4 (1991), p. 7-8, 11.
1860s Traditional art forms such as the carving of totem poles that preserved a family’s heritage throughout the years began to be threatened as so many First Nations die during smallpox epidemic. Since the arrival of settlers, entire villages of 500 or more are emptied of their living inhabitants because of the disease. Their artifacts remain.
1879 Mungo Martin was born in Fort Rupert, British Columbia. He was of the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) tribe and was known as Chief NaKePenkim in his culture. Mungo Martin (1879-1962) learned from his stepfather Charlie James, a well known Northwestern artist. He became one of the first traditional artists to deal with many types of Northwest Coast sculptural styles.
1879  I.W. Powell took a Tsimshian mask with closed eyes from the Tsimshian village of Kitkatlawas and brought it to Ottawa.

Alphone Pinart took a Tsimshian mask with open eyes from Metlakatla or on the Nass River. It was brought to the Musée de l’Homme in Paris where it was stored.

1890 A few Indian oral histories survive that may describe the 1770s epidemic. In the 1890s, an “aged informant” from the Squamish tribe, located near the mouth of the Fraser River, related the history of a catastrophic illness to ethnographer Charles Hill-Tout. The ethnographer wrote:

“[A] dreadful misfortune befell them. … One salmon season the fish were found to be covered with running sores and blotches, which rendered them unfit for food. But as the people depended very largely upon these salmon for their winter’s food supply, they were obliged to catch and cure them as best they could, and store them away for food. They put off eating them till no other food was available, and then began a terrible time of sickness and distress. A dreadful skin disease, loathsome to look upon, broke out upon all alike. None were spared. Men, women, and children sickened, took the disease and died in agony by hundreds, so that when the spring arrived and fresh food was procurable, there was scarcely a person left of all their numbers to get it. Camp after camp, village after village, was left desolate. The remains of which, said the old man, in answer by my queries on this, are found today in the old camp sites or midden-heaps over which the forest has been growing for so many generations. Little by little the remnant left by the disease grew into a nation once more, and when the first white men sailed up the Squamish in their big boats, the tribe was strong and numerous again” (Boyd, 55).

1920 Bill Reid was born in Victoria, BC. His father William Reid, an American of Scottish and German descent, came to BC to run hotels in two northern British Columbia towns.

1929 Barbeau, Marius. 1929. Totem Poles of the Gitksan. Upper Skeena River, BC.
1925 Wilson Duff ( (1925-1976) was born.
1932 Bill Reid’s father abandoned his family leaving his wife to raise the children alone. Sophie Gladstone, a Haida from the Queen Charlotte Islands, was educated at the Coqualeetza residential school. My mother thought it was a good place to live since it was full of English people and she was a life-long, ardent anglophile. She is the best example of brainwashing that the Indian residential school system ever turned out.” — Bill Reid in Saturday Night, February
1932. Sophie Gladstone supported her family by working as a dress-maker and designer in Victoria. When he was young, Reid knew little of his mother’s Native heritage. Although the young Reid had some interest in carving,
literature, music, and poetry, his development as an artist was a prolonged process which stretched over several decades.
1943 Bill Reid was twenty-three when he first visited Skidegate, his mother’s home town, and met his grandfather, Charles Gladstone. Gladstone was a carver and engraver who had learned his art from his uncle, a man named Charles Edenshaw, who was, perhaps, the best-known nineteenth-century Haida carver. At the time he met his grandfather, Charles Gladstone, Reid was already working in radio and he soon moved to Toronto to take up a job with the CBC.
1947 In his sixties, artist Mungo Martin (1881-1962) accepted UBC’s offer to oversee the restoration of totem poles. Mungo learned his craft from his stepfather Charlie James. He restored totems and taught others the skill until he died in 1962. He began replicating old poles for the British Columbia Provincial Museum’s outdoor display in Thunderbird Park. Mungo taught his son-in-law Henry Hunt and his grandson Tony Hunt, both of whom worked with Mungo at Thunderbird Park. In the 1980s his grandson Richard Hunt continued his work. Mungo also taught the Haida artist Bill Reid the traditional woodworking techniques of the Southern Kwakiutl, and worked with Doug Cranmer, the grandson of Mungo’s second wife Abayah.
1949 29-year-old Bill Reid became discontented with his CBC job as night-time newsreader in Toronto. At first he had wanted to be the best soap salesman chief salesman for Procter and Gamble but he soon became bored and
disillusioned although he remained with the CBC as a honey-voiced announcer for 20 years. Working the 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift, Reid was at loose ends during the day and enrolled in a jewellery-making course at Ryerson Institute of Technology to occupy himself during his time off work. Reid also served an apprenticeship there. He visited the Royal Ontario Museum to study totem poles (which had been “purchased?” or stolen? from northern BC Native peoples) , all the while continuing his work in radio. Bill Reid scraped by working as a CBC newsreader in Toronto to support his family.
1949 Wilson Duff earned his BA UBC, Vancouver at 24-years-old; Based on his fieldwork with six main informants in the summers of 1949 and 1950, Wilson Duff provided the first modern ethnographic study of the Cowichan group in 1952. Who were these informants?
1950 Barbeau, Marius. 1950. Totem Poles. 2 volumes. National Museum of Canada.
1951 Bill Reid worked for the CBC in Vancouver. Here he visited the UBC Museum of Anthropology. He set up his own jewelry shop, and began to work on totem pole replication and restoration projects. He began to study Haida
art and culture as a white man investigating a set of formal design problems. See art critic Roger Downe. He first worked on a replication project in Thunder Bird park where he met Mungo Martin, a highly-skilled Kwakwaka’wakw
carver who was overseeing the project. Martin helped Reid to develop his skills as a carver. He next worked on a project sponsored by the University of British Columbia Department of Anthropology restoring a Haida house and
totem pole.
1951 Wilson Duff earned his MA at 26-years-old; His MA was based on fieldwork with the Stó:lõ Salish people of the Fraser River in B.C.
1952 Duff, Wilson. Totem Poles of the Gitksan Totem-Poles 1952. a survey of those totem poles in Barbeau (1929) that were still standing in 1952. Totem Poles of the Gitksan. Upper Skeena River, BC.
1952 Based on his fieldwork with six main informants in the summers of 1949 and 1950, Wilson Duff provided the first modern ethnographic study of the Cowichan group in 1952.
1950- 1965 Wilson Duff was Curator of Anthropology at the British Columbia Provincial Museum. At 25 Duff became the first anthropologist to be fully employed by the provincial government of B.C. as its curator of anthropology at the provincial museum in Victoria (from 1950 to 1965).
He was involved with Mungo Martin in the reclamation of totem poles.
“Having served as a consultant for the Kitwancool in northern B.C., Wilson Duff served as an expert witness for both the Calder Case and the ensuing Nisga’a land claims case before the B.C. Supreme Court. As an avid photographer and a carver of no small skill himself, he published a guide to Victoria’s Thunderbird Park and he made an important contribution by identifying personal art styles among Aboriginal artists, particularly Charles Edenshaw. This work led others, such as Bill Reid, to believe that most of the finest carving on Haida Gwaii was accomplished by relatively few gifted artists.”
1950s Wilson Duff was only in his twenties when he decided to take the last remaining Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) totem poles by having them removed from their village Kitwancool (a.k.a. Gitanyow) and brought to the Royal British Columbia Museum or RBCM) in Victoria for preservation. They were cut down with chain saws and hauled to Victoria by boat.
1957 Wilson Duff, Bill Reid and … went to Haida villages and used power saws to cut down totems.
1957-11-01 “Carvers of the totem poles.” CBC. “It’s 1957 and Bill Reid is an announcer for CBC Radio in Toronto. In this CBC Radio clip, Reid takes a reprieve from his news-announcing duties and narrates a program about totem
poles. But in the meantime, Reid’s two passions of art and broadcasting are colliding. In various CBC Radio and Television specials, Reid acts as the unofficial spokesman on Haida art and culture. In this clip, Reid praises the Haida
carvers’ unparalleled virtuosity.”
1958 Bill Reid worked on a project sponsored by the University of British Columbia Department of Anthropology to restore a Haida house and totem pole. Bill Reid became a full-time artist at the age of 38. He resigned from the CBC where he had worked as the honey-voiced announcer for 20 years.
1958. Duff, Wilson; Kew Michael. 1958. “Anthony Island, a Home of the Haida.” British Columbia Provincial Museum Annual Report for 1957. pp. 37-64. An account of the expedition which salvaged sections of 11 poles.
1959 Duff, Wilson. “Histories, Territories, and Laws of the Kitwancool.” Anthropology in British Columbia. pp 21-30.
1960-1966 Wilson Duff chaired the Archaeological Sites Advisory Board.

1963 Wilson along with Willard Ireland and Dr. Clifford Carl, provided the impetus for the formation of the BCMA, and served as the Associations third President from 1963-1964 and was active in encouraging native participation in the Association.

1964. Duff, Wilson. “Contributions of Marius Barbeau to West Coast Ethnology. Anthropologica. Review of the existence of totem poles at the time of European contact.
1965 40-year-old Wilson Duff resigned? as Curator of Anthropology at the British Columbia Provincial Museum (1951-1065). He became Associate Professor/Professor of Anthropology, UBC (1965 on)
1967 Duff, Wilson; Holm, Bill; Reid, Bill. Arts of the Raven: Masterworks of the Northwest Coast Indians. Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery. animal forms.
1967 Following his preparation of the 191-page Arts of the Raven catalogue for a Vancouver Art Gallery exhibit in 1967, Wilson became obsessed with the notion of bringing together the only two stone masks known to exist from the Northwest Coast; the other with open eyes was kept in Paris.
1969 Wilson Duff served in court as an expert witness in the Nisga’a land-claims case Calder vs. Attorney-General of B.C., the famous “Calder case.”
1970s By the early 1970s Wilson Duff was consumed with studying Haida art in all its formalistic and cosmological complexity — taking in structuralist and psychoanalytical insights — an endeavour which he undertook with his friend the Haida artist Bill Reid but which never resulted in a comprehensive published articulation. His immersion in the Haida thought-world was so total that, as he wrote in the early 1970s, colleagues “are concerned about my sanity and reputation.”
“His profound admiration for the arts of the West Coast was obvious at all times, and so was his anxious need, always unsatisfied, to penetrate their most secret meaning, even beyond the meaning assigned by the artists themselves… He was, one felt, tormented by problems related to the psychology–I would even say the metaphysics–of art.” — Claude Lévi-Strauss
1973-02 Hesquiat Band Cultural Centre: Lack of funds hit by Chief Rocky Amos. Nesika. Vancouver. Indian Affairs denied Hesquiat Band’s request for funds for their proposed Cultural Centre.
Chief Rocky Amos argued that UBC was granted $10 million to house Indian artifacts so “more white people could study Indians.” Chief Rocky Amos also cautioned that the linguistic programme which includes language lessons prepared for pre-school children in Hesquiat dialect of central Nootka language, is on the verge of closing due to lack of funds.
1973-02 By a member of the Hesquiat Band. Whitemen Stole Indian Artifacts: People now demand own museums. UBC basement storage has an unsurpassed collection of Northwest Coast Indian art. These Indian artifacts have no didactic material on who did the carving, what family owns the crests, who obtained the art work, was it purchased or stolen?
“I have seen places in the Queen Charlottes where ancient totem poles have been cut off at the base with a power saw, dragged to the sea and towed behind a tug through salt water to be relocated. I have seen groups of Indian children escorted through government-run museums; small brown-eyed children under the watchful eyes of white museum guards, looking at glass cases in which lie the history of their people. A history made odd, different, and strangely foreign because it is lying in a glass case in a white man’s institution. [] Who ever asked for permission to remove our heritage and place it in glass cases? [] Why are there no funds for museums for us? [] There is money for a boat to take archaeology students up and down our coastline to dig up the bones of our grandfathers and sift, sort and label sacred objects from our burial grounds, but no money for us to treat our heritage with the dignity it deserves?”
Nesika. Vancouver.
1975 Wilson Duff and Vancouver Art Gallery director Richard Simmins succeeded in obtaining permission from France to transport their priceless Tsimshian mask to British Columbia. Wilson Duff retrieved the twin Tsimshian mask from the Musée de l’Homme for a one-year period, bringing it to his home in Vancouver; Hilary Stewart transported the mask from Vancouver to the Victoria Art Gallery where it was reunited with the mask from Ottawa. Hilary Stewart transported the mask from Vancouver to the Victoria Art Gallery where it was reunited with the mask from Ottawa. “The sightless mask was lifted carefully and placed over the face of its seeing twin,” Stewart recalled. “…the two nested together in a close, snug fit. It was a deeply moving moment as the two masks came together again for the first time in a hundred years or more.”  After consulting with Musqueam Della Kew, Duff ensured the twin stone masks were henceforth stored together, one cradled by the other, each an equal part of a whole. He later wrote, “Life is a pair of twin stone masks which are the very same but have opposite eyes.” The masks represented the “living paradoxes in myth and life” that he believed were near the source of Northwest Coast Aboriginal art.”

1976 Duff, Wilson. “Mute Relics of Haida Tribe’s Ghost Villages.” Smithsonian.
1976-08-08 “Wilson Duff committed suicide on August 6, 1976 in Vancouver, at age 51, hoping to be reincarnated as an Aboriginal from Haida Gwaii or the Tsimshian First Nation. Claude Lévi-Strauss wrote, “I wonder if it was not, after all, this desperate quest for infinite mysteries–perhaps because they were above all an exigency of his mind–that killed this unaffected, charming, altruistic and kind man, who was also a great scholar.” For his 50th birthday, Bill Reid had given Wilson Duff a silver medallion with a Haida design with an inscription on the back saying “survivor, first class.” He was wearing the medallion when he shot himself to death.” “He as on the planning committee for the new Vancouver Museum, consultant to the National Museum of Man, Ottawa. His publications were classics in the field – contributions to the study of First Nations cultures that added considerably to the development of museums around the province. He was recognized as one of the leaders I the “redefinition of ethnological materials as fine arts” within the early Canadian museum community. see
1981 Donald N. Abbott edited The World Is As Sharp As A Knife: An Anthology in Honour of Wilson Duff . The title was drawn from a poem by Wilson Duff of the same name.
1998 Bill Reid died. He had become an internationally-recognized artist whose work earned him wide praise. He is likely the best-known of all the artists who contributed to what is sometimes referred to as a renaissance in Native
Canadian art.
1999 Bierwert, Crisca. 1999. Brushed by Cedar, Living by the River: Coast Salish Figures of Power. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1999. Reviewed by Brian Thom, McGill University. [this review is to be published in American Anthropologist]
“In Brushed by Cedar Bierwert takes us to two Coast Salish Native communities (Stó:lo and Lushootseed) on the Northwest Coast and explores Coast Salish ways of making sense of current moral, intellectual, political and spiritual issues and dilemmas.” Bierwert was aware of the dangers inherent in writing about the power of the spirit dance.
“When told about one initiate dying and another losing the ability to write when they had both joined the spirit dance in order to write about it, she reflected with some concern on the death of the two other scholars who published on Stó:lo spirit dance practices (Wilson Duff’s suicide and Oliver Well’s accidental death while vacationing in Scotland) and the controversy surrounding the publication of Jilek’s self-serving psychoanalytical text on spirit dancing. She describes the subsequent tension of being engaged in the community, even participating in a spirit dance, and the degree of circumspection needed in writing about spiritual matters, which she is left to figure out for herself. She finds that writing about these things is a part of a larger social dynamic, where “the boundaries of practice allow for variation, for deployment at different limits and different times” (133) and it is the movement of these boundaries which reveal the processes of power which give tension to these dynamics. Coast Salish people see syowen (the spirit which empowers the dancers) as an active agent, much the same way particular places are seen as containing power. Coast Salish people are motivated by the power of the syowen to respond to ritual, political and everyday situations with attention to the unique ways that the power may manifest itself. It motivates Bierwert to respect a boundary of appropriateness in her own writing about spirit dancing, staying clear of describing or trying to explain the details of the practice, while at the same time giving a sense of its power. In the most emotionally potent chapter Bierwert grapples with the ongoing problem of family violence in Stó:lo communities. She first brings forward the voices of some of the Stó:lo women – her friends – who discussed with her the violence which had occurred in her own marriage. The chapter sensitively moves back and forth between their commentary, their descriptions of their own experiences, and Bierwert’s discussion of how this unfortunately common violence may be uniquely understood in particular Coast Salish ways. Her friends respond the violence in their lives in various ways, but almost never did they or their families intervene. Like in spirit dancing, there are different boundaries of power which must be respected. Bierwert concludes that while traditional family structures which may have kept past violence in check have been disrupted by colonial institutions, the violence is now perpetuated by a difficult configuration of Native men appropriating the kinds of violence that is more widely present in non-Native communities and Coast Salish ways of thinking about how bad things need to run their course (Thom’s review).”
2001 Marjorie Halpin was curator of ethnology at UBC MOA until her untimely death. She studied under Wilson Duff?
2004 approximately 2,000 Haida lived in Canada, almost all in Haida Gwaii.
2010 Artistic Directors Dennis Garnhum (Calgary) and Max Reimer (Vancouver) presented the world premiere production of Beyond Eden, written and composed by Bruce Ruddell, during their 2009-10 seasons at Theatre Calgary and the Playhouse Theatre Company of Vancouver. Beyond Eden will be featured as part of the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad.

See also Rhyne, Charles S. 2000. “Changing Approaches to the Conservation of Northwest Coast Totem Poles.” Tradition and Innovation: Advances in Conservation Contributions to the Melbourne Congress, 10-14 October 2000. London: International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, 2000. Pp.155-160, color plates 7.1-7.4.—off-0nesika1-nesika1,ubcicnew,unitybul,ubcicbu1-01-1–0-10-0—0—0prompt-10—4——-0-1l–11-en-50—20-about-archaeology–00-3-1-01-0-0-11-0-0utfZz-8-00&a=d&cl=CL1″ target=”_blank”>—off-0nesika1-nesika1,ubcicnew,unitybul,ubcicbu1-01-1–0-10-0—0—0prompt-10—4——-0-1l–11-en-50—20-about-archaeology–00-3-1-01-0-0-11-0-0utfZz-8-00&a=d&cl=CL1


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