The Spirit Wrestler Gallery is pleased to announce the fifth installment of our Mini-Masterworks exhibition series. The ongoing joy and challenge of these exhibitions has been to find inspired artworks on a smaller scale from each of the three cultural groups that we represent here at the gallery — Māori of Aotearoa (New Zealand), First Nations of the Pacific Northwest Coast, and Inuit of Alaska and Arctic Canada.
The criteria of small scale, new techniques and directions, rare finds from existing collections, and pieces that capture the spirit of a cross-cultural exhibition, are all considered in the selection for this biennial collection. Over the past decade, we have been rewarded with some exceptional surprises that make each collection fresh and exciting for both us and the viewer.
The Māori collection is always fun because the seeds are planted at a distance and only later, when we open the boxes, do we see the amazing pieces created specifically for this exhibition. Since 1999, we have received incredible support from Aotearoa and are now a destination gallery to see great examples of Māori art. The variety in subject and range of traditional and new materials culturally and visually enriches the collection. We are very fortunate to have so many master artists currently contributing, including Darcy Nicholas, Sandy Adsett, Wi Taepa, Christina Wirihana, and Alex Nathan. We are also pleased to be introducing a few new faces in this miniature collection: Sonia Snowden in weaving, Ian-Wayne Grant in wood, Amorangi Hikuroa in ceramics, and Bevan Taka in glass. We would like to offer a special thank you to June Grant, Todd Couper, Lewis Gardiner, and Rex Homan, who have all gone beyond the call of duty in their support to our gallery.
The Northwest Coast collection is one of our strongest ever, as we have many outstanding new creations, and are also fortunate to be able to include a few older gems from Fred Davis, Primrose Adams, Joe David, Norman Tait and the late Walter Harris. All the traditional mediums are represented here: wood, argillite, weaving, and silver. Each year the bond between the Northwest Coast and Māori artists continues to develop as friendships become stronger. Sometimes a common image or theme appears that allows us to encourage artists to pursue a particular direction — this year it was combs that created a link between the Māori and Northwest collections. The glass comb sculpture by Preston Singletary is a wonderful addition (and his inclusion for the first time in the miniature format). This is even more appropriate given the development of his close Māori friendships that have grown from his support to glassblowing in New Zealand. We are especially pleased to introduce artworks by Nathan Wilson, Dean Hunt, Mitch Adams, and Tom Hunt, who are all contributing to our miniature collection for the first time.
The Inuit collection provides the backbone of this exhibition with a wonderful variety of smaller artworks collected from artists across the Arctic from Alaska in the west to Labrador in the east. The Inuit, traditionally a nomadic people, have always excelled at smaller portable works, often carving small amulets and talisman to protect them from the dangers of wild animals, unpredictable elements, and unwelcome spirits. This Inuit collection, we believe, differs from our previous miniature collections in that it incorporates a powerful shamanic presence from Alaska — the nucleus being built around a series of transformation pieces by Jerry Wongittilin, Bobby Nashookpuk, and Walton Irrigoo. Our Inuit collection continues to evolve with great small works from some very renowned artists like Kenojuak Ashevak, Andrew Miki, Latcholassie Akesuk, Simon Tookoome and Mathew Aqigaaq — many of whom we have never had the opportunity to represent before in our previous miniature exhibitions. We are again very thankful to the ongoing support from Denise Wallace, and two of our favourite artists from Labrador, Billy Gauthier and Michael Massie.
We know there is always an air of expectation as to what new and exciting artworks will be discovered within the collection — and we hope that we do not disappoint you! On behalf of my colleagues at the Spirit Wrestler Gallery, Colin, Derek, Eric and Gary, I invite you to come down to the gallery to view and enjoy this inspired exhibition.
September 9 - September 30, 2017
The Spirit Wrestler Gallery is honoured to be hosting the long-awaited second collaborative exhibition, Pacific Currents - New Collaborations in Glass and Jade, by Seattle-based Tlingit glass artist, Preston Singletary, and leading Māori pounamu jade artist, Lewis Gardiner, from Aotearoa (New Zealand).
In 2007, their first exhibition, Fire & Water - Pacific Visions in Glass & Jade, captured the attention of our audience with its ground-breaking collection of innovative artworks that merged new materials together in shapes, designs and stories found in both cultural art-forms. The originality of these artworks proved that creativity could overcome cultural differences and distances between the artists working on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean. The success of their first collaboration beckoned for an encore.
The creative beginnings of this second exhibition began many years ago but the artists' busy schedules of other exhibitions, teaching, commissions, cultural and family commitments, delayed its completion.
Over the years despite the challenge of being artists at a distance, their mutual artistic respect and friendship had kept the communication alive. Both artists were still intrigued to pursue this second exhibition and have the opportunity to further explore similar stories that existed between the Northwest Coast and Māori cultures. It is now a decade later and we finally have the much anticipated collection of 20 exciting new artworks.
Preston Singletary has been an ambassador for the glass medium to First Nation cultures internationally, including several trips to New Zealand to introduce glass to Māori artists. Glass is seen as a chameleon material that can imitate other materials including many that are seen as rare and endangered to the world and to the very future of certain artistic traditions. For the last 20 years, Lewis Gardiner has been a leading pounamu jade artist in New Zealand. He has accepted invitations to exhibit his creations in China, as well as in New Zealand and Canada, and still continues to explore monumental jade (pounamu) at a time of scarcity that limits access to a material considered a cultural taonga (treasure). Glass and jade are such compatible mediums as they are both translucent and activated by light.
We believe the ten year wait has been worthwhile as we reveal this inspired second collection, Pacific Currents, that continues to explore and develop on new ideas and forms found in their traditional cultural stories. Both artists have been inspired by the flora and fauna of their natural environment, as well as by the ceremonial objects that are both worn and presented in sacred ceremonial settings. The design forms cleverly blend Māori and Northwest flat design onto traditional sculpted forms.
We invite you to see the exhibition in person and to meet these two important artists who created this amazing collection.
Spirit Wrestler Gallery
101-1669 West 3rd Ave.
Canada V6J 1K1
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one block West of the Granville Island gates
Between Pine St. and Fir St.
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