July 15, 2013

Collaboration & Contrast: Highlights and Favorites

Our summer exhibition, Collaboration & Contrast, will be closing this Saturday, July 20th and we've decided to highlight a few of our favorite pieces here before the show is over.

Steve Smith, Yellow Cedar Paddle, When You Know Better... You Do Better, 62" x 5 3/4" x 1", $6,500.00 CAD

Steve Smith's double-sided Yellow Cedar Paddle, When You Know Better…You Do Better, is one of the stand-out pieces in the show. From the bottom to the top, the paddle is covered with life from the sea, the land and the air and has such fine detail, displaying his immense skill as a painter. Steve has also cleverly incorporated amphibious animals between the land and sea including a Lizard, Snake and Frog. Yet, what is most striking about this piece is the story that has inspired its creation:

This piece (and a few others in the show) was inspired from an experience that I had when I had a recent operation. It was inspired from the in between realms of coming off of the anesthetic. This was one of many visions revealed to me. What I saw has changed the way I see, the way I do art and the impact that I could have as an artist. I have never been one to create political artwork and in fact, I was taught to stay away from doing artwork depicting certain topics. From what I have seen I will no longer contain nor censor the content that wants or needs to come out of me. As human beings on this planet we all have or will make mistakes, and that is to be expected. When we keep making the same mistakes we tend to suffer or others suffer from our actions. When we are tired of the pain we are causing ourselves or others we start to look for ways to stop hurting ourselves. It is through this process that some of us have learned an old, but truthful saying 'when you know better, you do better'. The pipeline that is proposed to run underground from Alberta to the Pacific Coast is exactly what I'm talking about in the title of this piece. A carved groove representing the pipeline runs from the top of the paddle to the bottom of it. From the bottom up are sea creatures and then midway up the blade of the paddle land animals and insects appear. Elements of the sky make their way up towards the handle. I have intentionally used many colors, probably the most I have ever used. In contrast to the black that seems to permeate throughout the entire paddle, the vivid colors of all the various creatures pop out. The pipeline groove runs through all of these wonderful and special creatures representing just what a real pipeline would do. I have only depicted but a few of the animals, birds and insects that this would have a devastating effect on. The amount of wildlife, trees, flowers, lakes, streams, rivers, mountains, earth...that could be polluted is unfathomable. I truly believe that we know better, so let's do better. 

- Steve Smith DLA'KWAGILA
Rod Smith, Red Cedar Sculpture, Spy Hop, 12" x 22 1/2" x 12 1/4", $3,200.00 CAD
 Next is Rod Smith’s stunning, large-scale Spy Hop Red Cedar Sculpture. The dimensions of this piece, while larger than Rod usually creates, are balanced by the elongated dorsal fin of the Killerwhale. We love how Rod included a Salmon in the belly of the Killerwhale and a Raven in the dorsal fin – very playful and creative.

Rod Smith & Steve Smith, Big Brother, Little Brother, SS: 13 3/4" x 9 1/4" x 3 1/4" RS: 15" x 7 1/2" x 3 1/4", $4,800.00 CAD
Last is a collaboration piece you have likely seen more than a few times this past month. Included in our advertisements and invitations is the Red Cedar Sculpture, Big Brother, Little Brother, a piece we feel epitomizes the concept of the show. The two pieces are similar in shape and size, allowing us to view the stark contrast in the brothers’ use of formline and design choice and the similarities in their meticulous brushstrokes. Here is what each artist says about this collaboration piece: 

This piece started as a laminated old growth red cedar block. Through all of the phone calls and the small sketches that had been made I still wasn’t clear on the concept. This piece is truly a case of ‘do what you know.’ I had done several smaller-scale ‘tower’ pieces in the past and had always wanted to try one on a larger scale; now was my chance. I chose what I considered an eye-pleasing shape, making sure that they nested and were free standing. An iron oxide wash is used as the base, as this is a traditional colour used in most Kwakwaka’wakw art. Black was the only colour chosen as this is what I have done in the past. The design incorporates several ‘pathways’ along with some non-traditional hatching.

Rod was given a piece of laminated red cedar and the idea was for him to cut it into two pieces that made up one piece. The shape was totally up to him. He applied a base coat on both sides and let me choose which one I wanted. I told him that I would take the little brother and he could have the big brother. I think the pieces have a real bird-like look to them. That's how I approached the piece that I painted. Using non-traditional colors I painted my piece in blacks, reds and oranges. I love how these pieces fit right into each other and the way that they stand together gives me a sense of protection and unity.
- Steve Smith DLA'KWAGILA

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