Posts Tagged “Harold Demetzer”

Tom Daniels and Roy Henry Vickers

Tom Daniels and Roy Henry Vickers

Harold started the day off by concluding the presentation on NW coast artists.  Again, it was a good presentation, with a bit of a surrealistic quality due perhaps to the fact that one half of the presentation was on Dempsey Bob, who was sitting at the side, observing the whole presentation.

Harold started the day where he finished off yesterday, talking about the Gitksan artists, covering Ken Mowatt, Robert Jackson Jr, Glen Wood, Phil Janze and Earl Muldon–aka Earl Muldoe.  Ken Mowatt, born Sept 2, 1944, taught at the Kitanmaax (K’san) school in Hazelton during the 70’s.  Ken has been a carver for over 40 years and is known for many works around Hazelton, including many of the poles at K’san.  Robert Jackson Jr was born in 1948 in Port Edward, and grew up with Dempsey Bob.  Robert’s story was one of “greatness, loss and recovery.”

Harold highlighted Glen Wood, who worked with Dempsey on the eagle pole next to the courthouse in Rupert.

Eagle Pole. carvers: Dempsey Bob and Glen Wood

Eagle Pole. carvers: Dempsey Bob and Glen Wood

Harold went on to talk about Phil Janze.  Phil was a teacher at K’san and is a noted jeweler and carver.  Harold discussed Earl Muldon, aka Muldoe, who was one of the most notable pole carvers from K’san.  Earl has a long legacy of teaching and excellence.  Earl was named an officer of the Order of Canada on June 30, 2010.

The Tahltan Wolves: Dempsey Bob, Ken McNeil and Stan Bevan

This was a particularly special part of the presentation, considering that two of the above persons were at the presentation while Harold was talking about them.  Dempsey’s legacy was that of an innovator and a teacher.  Dempsey learned much of what he knew from Freda Diesing and passed along much of what he knows to Ken and Stan, his nephews.  Dempsey, Stan and Ken are all part of the wolf clan, and are all Tahltan.

On an interesting note, Roy Henry Vickers was there listening to much of the presentation.  Roy is most definitely a key part of NW coast art history.  Roy, a Tsimshian, Haida, Helstiuk, Scot by birth, went to K’san with Dempsey in the 70’s.  Although, anything that I may know about Roy is probably already on Wikipedia, I will say that he is well known for his silk screen prints, literature and great public speaking skills.  Roy will be coming to do a talk to the class early next month.  The preliminary dates are the 10th and 11th of March.

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Harold Demetzer

Harold Demetzer

I managed to get Harold’s permission to post his photo onto my blog, today.  Originally, Harold didn’t want “anything done” with the photos we took of him, I managed to convince him to let me show this as he pulled out the camera to take photos of us this afternoon, though.  He tells me that this will be one of two photos of him on the internet.

Harold spoke of west coast artists today and the connections between the artists.  Harold went highlighted a list of seventeen artists from the Haida, Nisga’a and Gitksan nations today.  Although it was clear that more artists were on the list that we didn’t manage to cover today, what we did cover was quite informative and even a bit inspirational.  Starting with a tree graph of the connections between the various artists, Harold highlighted who taught whom.  For example, Bill Reid taught Robert Davidson, Don Yeomans and Jim Hart; Robert Davidson taught Reg Davidson, Freda Diesing and Chuck Heit; Freda Diesing taught Dempsey Bob and Glen Wood; Dempsey Bob taught Stan Bevan and Ken McNeil.  Harold pointed out that all great north west coast artists taught.

Harold then went through a list of these artists one by one, starting with Bill Reid.  Bill was an artist who stood out, as Harold described it, because of marketing and talent.  Bill’s career as an artist spanned many decades and in the later years, he had many artists working under him.  One of Bill’s most famous works is on the Canadian $20 bill, “Black Canoe”.  When the 3 meter high bronze sculpture was made and installed, Bill specifically stated “Do not prevent people from touching it.”  The patina has since naturally worn off in spots on the bronze sculpture located at YVR.  Bill died in 1998 of parkinson’s disease.

Next Harold went on to speak of Haida artist Don Yeomans.  One of the most interesting thing about Don was his tendency to mix art and subject matter not typically north west coast with the north west coast style.  Ken McNeil reminisced that the first time that he met Don, Don was wearing a elephant frontlet headpiece.  A frontlet is part of the head dress of a simoyget, or chief, and typically has a motif of either a human or figure from nature found in the west coast.  Elephants are not found on the west coast.

Harold went on to tell us about Haida artist Robert Davidson.  Harold said that the first time that he and Robert met was very similar to the last time that they met.  In between these times, Robert was an amazing example of a northwest coast artist.  Robert started his career raising a pole that was the first pole in 90 years in all of Canada, since the potlatch law of 1884.  Incidentally, before the pole was made, Robert was talking with his grandma, Florence Davidson, daughter of Charles Edenshaw, about the need for a pole and how he said that he should raise one; Florence quite seriously agreed that he should.  And so in 1969, the pole was raised.  Robert went on to be an instructor at Ksan, and even taught Freda Diesing, herself.

Harold went on to describe artists of Nisga’a lineage.  Including the Tait brothers: Norman, Alver and Josiah.  I know that Josiah worked on a few major installations in Prince Rupert, with Freda Diesing.

Students from Freda Diesing School stand in front of a large plaque at the Prince Rupert Hospital. The plaque was designed by Freda Diesing and carved by Josiah Tait.

Students from Freda Diesing School stand in front of a large plaque at the Prince Rupert Hospital. The plaque was designed by Freda Diesing and carved by Josiah Tait.

Harold then went on to describe some Gitksan artists, such as K’san co-founder Walter Harris and controversial artist Ya’Ya (Chuck Heit).

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I had a couple practice presentations at community futures this morning for the Best of the BEST competition in Vancouver this weekend. I will be going down to Vancouver for this competition. It should be a good time. I was critiqued by an audience of two people at Community Futures today, but I have to say that it was actually harder doing the presentation for my wife last night. She is a way harder critic.

Raven on a tree on the NWCC campus, Terrace     Raven on a tree on the NWCC campus, Terrace

Raven on a tree on the NWCC campus, Terrace Raven on a tree on the NWCC campus, Terrace

I caught the tail end of Harold Demetzer’s speech today and he was talking about galleries. Harold said that even the most prestigious artists use galleries. He described the variety of galleries that are in Vancouver and he made it clear as to what ones were more presentation oriented and what ones were more production oriented. I definitely want to go with a presentation oriented gallery if I have the choice. Stan Bevan told us that we need to make our own decisions as to who we feel comfortable doing business with.

In the afternoon, we resumed our projects. I am working on two bowls right now and I am almost finished my spoon.

Evan Aster and another afternoon carving

Evan Aster and another afternoon carving

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Harold Demetzer came all the way from Thunder Bay to speak to the class today. Harold, described as a friend, collector and adviser to native art and culture, came to speak to the class for the duration of the week on a variety of subjects.

Today’s subject was a bit of an informal timeline on the history of some of the nations of the northwest coast. Although he didn’t have too much time to go into detail about the various things that have happened in the north west coast, he went through a personal history on what he knew about the first nations on the coast.  He lived here for 25 years before moving to Ontario.

Tomorrow he is going to be discussing art galleries and business.

Harold is an amazing public speaker, with an uncanny knack of exuding integrity in what he discusses.  After one day of listening to Harold, I feel like I have a whole new perspective on what is happening on the west coast among first nations.

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