The Spirit Wrestler Gallery is honoured to host an exceptional exhibition by three leading Māori artists: Rex Homan, Lewis Gardiner, and Todd Couper, from Aotearoa (New Zealand), in celebration of our 15th anniversary of representing Māori art.
In 1999, our gallery was first introduced to Māori art — later that year we included a number of their artworks for the first time in our multi-cultural exhibition, Fusion: Tradition & Discovery. This became the beginning of a remarkable relationship that we have shared ever since with Aotearoa.
To celebrate this important anniversary, we felt there was no better way than exhibiting three of our most successful Māori artists. It seemed a natural choice, because these artists have had a constant belief and support towards our gallery — and each has acted as a stalwart ambassador for Māori art in North America.
They are also extraordinary artists in their own right — and we believe the quality of their creations speaks volumes about who they are and their commitment to their art and culture. It has been a privilege for us to have had the opportunity to work so closely with them on so many important exhibitions. This exhibition highlights the artists sharing ideas and themes but exploring them in their own unique ways.
Te Tokotoru nō Aotearoa
Three Artists from the Land of the Long White Cloud
Lewis Gardiner, Todd Couper, Rex Homan
For the last few years we had been hiding away Todd Couper’s carvings towards the possibility of a solo exhibition. We began to realize that because of his intricate and labour-intensive knife-carving technique that this would not likely happen in our lifetime! We suggested the idea of incorporating additional artists to exhibit alongside him. Todd was very supportive of this initiative, so we invited artists whose art could support and compliment his artworks.
Rex Homan was an immediate choice, as his minimalist contemporary carving style is in total contrast to Todd’s more traditional detailed carving. The lure for Rex to entice him from semi-retirement was the invitation to return to his earlier love of figurative carving, which was his interest before he became renowned for his bird imagery.
The invitation to Lewis Gardiner as the third artist into the mix was an easy decision. He would introduce pounamu jade, a material sacred to Māori, to compliment the native timber sculptures of Rex and Todd. Over the years we have seen Lewis easily adapt and morph his artworks to exhibition themes and to support other artist ideas in collaborative shows. We knew that his participation and understanding would enhance and elevate the exhibition to an even higher level.
All three artists know each other well; respect each others talents, and have the integrity and ability to share the stage together. They have all taken on this challenge and have excelled in producing an exceptional body of artworks.
When the Wero title was selected we little realized what a challenge this exhibition would be to all three artists with their many personal commitments — but each artist has somehow managed to rise to the challenge to present us with a wonderful selection of their art — and we are grateful for their huge commitment to making this exhibition a reality.
Our intention was always to help facilitate an opportunity to bring these artists together to produce an inspired collection of art for you to see. I believe we have achieved this.
On behalf of all my colleagues at Spirit Wrestler Gallery: Derek, Gary, Colin, and Eric, I invite you all to join us for the opening, both to view this amazing exhibition and take this rare opportunity to meet the artists.
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
Toll Free: 1-888-669-8813
one block West of the Granville Island gates
Between Pine St. and Fir St.
Tuesday to Saturday, open 10-5
Sunday and Holidays, open 12-5
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