The Spirit Wrestler Gallery is very pleased to be hosting our second solo exhibition for Michael Massie 50@50 – Celebration of Metal and Stone. This exhibition is a celebration of Michael reaching his milestone 50th birthday by showcasing 50 new inspired artworks. He has reached a significant moment in his life, having matured as an artist, and having established his career, while still very much enjoying the creative process.
For this exhibition, we selected the first piece back in 2006. Over the next couple of years we began to add other unusual sculptures towards the idea of a future exhibition. In 2009, we decided that 2012 would be the year for this exhibition and that we would build the collection to 50 artworks to coincide with his 50th birthday. We wanted this exhibition to be an important landmark in his career and encouraged him to create an exhibition that would be unique — and unlike any other Inuit exhibition that has gone before. The resulting collection has exceeded all our expectations.
Over the past 25 years, Michael has been recognized for his excellence as a silversmith and is especially renowned for his varied interpretations of the teapot. During the mid-1990s we had heard about Michael, seen photos of his teapots, and had admired his art. In 1998, we were finally introduced to Michael by Mattiusi Iyaituk at the Spirits in the Sun Art Show in Scottsdale, Arizona. As they say “the rest is history” as we just connected and ever since then our gallery has had the pleasure and privilege representing Michael and his artwork exclusively.
In 1999, we displayed his first teapot acquired by our gallery in the Fusion: Tradition and Discovery exhibition, where we introduced many artists exploring new directions in the art. From that moment we encouraged Michael to diversify from silver and to develop his expertise in stone sculpture, as he would then be able to reach an even larger Inuit collector audience. This proved to be valuable advice, as ever since then his distinctive stone sculptures have been acquired by many collectors and museums. This in-turn also helped to introduce his silver art to a wider audience, piggybacking on their initial interest in his stone sculptures. Today his artworks are in many important institutions, including the Smithsonian-National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the National Gallery in Ottawa, and the YVR Vancouver Airport Collection.
In 2005, we hosted his first successful solo exhibition Tea and a Story with Michael Massie which featured 29 works of art, including teapots and sculpture. There was one particular piece called “come sit and have some tea” that featured his self-portrait, carved in stone while holding a silver teapot. This was Michael’s first artwork combining silver and stone in the same composition and that idea became the catalyst for this exhibition.
For this collection Michael has carved sculptures in serpentine, marble, anhydrite, limestone, whalebone and antler. With many he incorporated a variety of metals into the design which include copper, brass, chrome, aluminum, sterling silver and gold leaf. Metal became the unifying vital ingredient of this collection. It is his expertise of combining metal and stone that has set Michael uniquely apart from his contemporaries. Of course no exhibition by Michael would be complete without a few silver teapots!
It has been an exciting journey for us working with Michael so closely for all these years, as he represents all that is great about working with an outstanding artist. He is a consummate professional, taking a keen interest in understanding the market and supporting our exhibitions. He is an artist who is continually challenging himself to produce new and different artworks. Each piece gives the viewer an insight into his life, family, interests and thoughts. To really understand how he thinks, where the idea originates, the difficulties and techniques used in the process of creating the artwork, then one needs to read his accompanying stories. Many of his stories are too long to include in full in the catalogue, so we encourage everyone to visit our website to read the full story on each artwork. Michael wanted to maximize the visual impact of the sculptures rather than the viewer being distracted by the text.
Over many years I have been fortunate to get to know Michael personally and we have established a great friendship. I have had the opportunity to visit many of his family in Newfoundland and Labrador, so I can imagine how proud they must be of this exhibition and his successful career. For the opening we will have the artist in attendance supported by many of his family. We encourage everyone to come down to the gallery as this will be a rare opportunity to meet and talk to him. On behalf of my colleagues, Derek, Gary, Colin and Eric, we invite you all to join us and celebrate Michael’s remarkable achievement. For this 50@50 exhibition, Michael has truly excelled, producing a compelling selection of artworks that will surprise and amaze everyone.
April 23 - May 14, 2016
The Spirit Wrestler team: Colin Choi, Derek Norton, Nigel Reading and Gary Wyatt, have been together now for over 30 years representing master-level Inuit, Northwest Coast, and Māori art - and for the last 20 years as the Spirit Wrestler Gallery. We are celebrating this amazing 20-year journey with a “birthday” exhibition, “Reflections 20Years”. The exhibition will feature many of the great artists from the three extraordinary cultures that we represent that have shared and supported us on this journey… and it is also a “thank you” for all of you who have made this journey so much fun! The Spirit Wrestler Gallery was founded in 1996 and quickly became one of the foremost galleries of first-nation art in North America. The name Spirit Wrestler originates from the title of the book by James Houston that tells the story of a young shaman learning his powers in the Canadian north. At the time, the gallery was looking for a name that allowed for the consideration of both traditional and shamanist-based arts here in Canada, as well as embracing the work by other artists from around the world. Early exhibitions included artists from Alaska, the Canadian Plains, and the Māori from New Zealand, being shown in the same room as Northwest Coast and Inuit art. The cross-cultural interactions have offered a unique fusion in the gallery and generated many group and solo exhibitions that we have hosted over the years. We were witnessing the trend of a growing interaction internationally between artists who were travelling far afield to research the art and modern cultural practices of other nations - and along the way, forging friendships that have endured across great distances. The last two decades have also been an exciting transition time for the arts being created by all three cultures. There was a pronounced movement towards the incorporation of new materials, such as glass, bronze, and polymers - which has opened new avenues for the art itself, both in terms of subject and scale. To be a part of seeing the artists exhibiting their work side-by-side has been very exciting and has made the Spirit Wrestler Gallery a unique and challenging experience for any visitor. We have had the privilege of representing many of the greatest Northwest Coast, Inuit, and Māori artists of our time - and have have had the privilege of showing a great number of the most important pieces produced over the last three decades. It has been an honour to share this long journey with so many great artists and clients. Thank you all so much for your belief and support.
Spirit Wrestler Gallery
47 Water Street
Canada V6B 1A1
Toll Free: 1-888-669-8813
3 blocks from Waterfront Station
Between Abbott St. and Carrall St.
Monday to Saturday, open 10-6
Sunday and Holidays, open 12-5
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