gen_2403.1.gifgen_1058.1.gifABOUTResumeFamilyPublic ArtNEW WORKSHip Hop MimbresMacaulay Gallery2014The Chieftain BarWhites as Indian SculptureInstallationWhite worksLard PailsFA Hide Works ConstructionsCommissionsArt SchoolCeramic BoxesArticlesEarlier workse-mail me



Art Reviews


The Red Cloud Indian School will be exhibiting works from their permanent collection at the South Dakota Art Museum located in the South Dakota State University in Brookings, South DakotaMarch 6th to August 30, 2009.


New Online Open Book Collection from the Surrey Art Gallery


Be sure to check out out the other artists at:


UTOPIC IMPULSES: Contemporary Ceramic Practice  

Edited by Ruth Chambers, Amy Gogarty & Mireille Perron

Now available in your local bookstore or at Rondale Press:

Arts and Entertainment: Diverse Native Art
11/13/2007 3:25 PM




“The sad stereotype of Native art is that it’s one thing— beadwork, drawings of buffalo, wood carvings, basket-weaving—that never changes,” says Jeffrey Chapman, painter, flute maker and Teaching Specialist in Post Secondary Teaching and Learning at the University of Minnesota. “But Native cultures are a lot deeper than people may perceive them to be. And Native artists, like any other artists, produce art that’s dynamic and always evolving, which is why I’m thrilled about this show.”

The show Chapman is referring to is “Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation” at the Weisman Art Museum, an exhibition of contemporary Native North American art from the West, Northwest, and Pacific. The traveling exhibition, which originated at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, includes more than 100 works by Native artists from the Great Plains, West Coast, western Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii.

From glass, bronze, and video works to jewelry, textiles, and sculpture crafted from wood, feathers, or whale bone, the exhibition “runs the gamut from purely aesthetic objects to thought-provoking, intellectual works that require close, attentive viewing,” Chapman says. On November 20, Chapman provides critical perspectives on the show with Minneapolis artist Todd Bockley, who organized the 2000 Weisman show, “Listening with the Heart: Frank Big Bear, George Morrison, Norval Morrisseau.”

One of the most provocative objects in the exhibition is Land O Bucks, Land O Fakes, Land O Lakes, in which David Bradley (originally from Minneapolis) re-contextualizes the iconic Indian-maiden logo on a butter package. In the exhibition catalog, Bradley writes, “For 500 years, non-Indians have stolen our land and resources, and now that Indian identity has become a marketable commodity, they want to steal that, too. I say no, enough is enough.”

Judy Chartrand’s shelf of Campbell’s soup cans with the labels “Turnip,” “Moose Nose,” or “Hangover” references pop artist Andy Warhol’s famous silk-screened images, but with a twist. As Chartrand

writes: “[M]uch of my work confronts issues of colonization, assimilation, and identity politics. . . . In resistance to these stereotypical identifications, I am reinventing some of these labels in accordance with my way of knowing and understanding the world.”

Unlike many other large exhibitions of contemporary Native art, Chapman says, “This one isn’t based around a silly, tedious theme, like ‘We hate Columbus,’ ‘We hate Custer,’ or ‘Honoring this or that.’ ” The works aren’t grouped by technique or tribe either.

Instead, the show is organized into four sections: “The Human Condition,” “Material Evidence,” “Beyond Function,” and “Nature as Subject.” This “puts the art in an art context rather than in an ethnographic or anthropological context,” explains Weisman curator Diane Mullin. “Each of the artists is looking at their own Native traditions and identity, but pushing and contemporizing those boundaries conceptually or with materials.”

Take a Picture with a Real Indian, for instance, is a videotape of James Luna’s original piece of performance art in which the artist, costumed in stereotyped garb—bare-chested and wearing a loincloth—challenges his mostly white audience to join him in a photograph. “It’s a low-tech tape of the performance,” Mullin says, “but the tension in the room among the people he’s addressing is palpable. It’s very confrontational and an intriguing use of the medium of performance art.”

“It’s important for people to see the wide range of creative impetus that exists in Native art and see Native artworks they’ve never experienced before,” Chapman says. “Each of these art objects can stand on its own. But what’s truly wonderful about ‘Changing Hands’ is its diversity.”

“Changing Hands: Art without Reservation” runs through January 13, 2008, at the Weisman Art Museum, 333 E. River Road, on the East Bank of the Minneapolis campus. For more information, go to or call 612-625-9494. —Camille LeFevre


Painted Bravery: Contemporary Native artwork redefines tradition.


By Rose Wallin

Anchorage Press, Feature Story, Vol 16, Ed, 28, Thursday, July 12, 2007


“Take a picture with a real Indian.”

The voice is slow, heavily accented, insistent. At the source of the sound, James Luna stands shirtless; he’s a small, flickering image on the gallery wall. He wears a loincloth, his potbelly sagging slightly over a leather belt. His hair, close cropped up front, flows to his shoulders in a pseudo-mullet. Squarish, old-man glasses perch at the bridge of his nose. He looks like a stereotype.

Flanking Luna, foam-core standees of “real Indians” stare at the camera; their flat, photographic faces press the question of who is more real, more authentic?

“Come on, take a picture with a real Indian.”

The camera cuts to Luna’s audience, a hodge-podge of families and singles, children, 20-somethings, and middle-aged Americans
⎯ mostly white. The room they’re in doesn’t look large, but the group is crowded toward the back. The tape is silent but for Luna’s voice, and the awkward ambience of people who aren’t sure how to react to his words. Feet shuffle, eyes make the slow journey from ceiling tiles to floor. Someone coughs.

“Right here, today in middle-America, take a picture with a real Indian.”

The tape cuts again, and there is a family of four with Luna. Mom wears a pastel shirt; Dad’s balding with glasses; a young boy stares red-headed and naïve at the camera while his older sister chews her lower lip and cocks her head to the side. Their faces are tentative. Should they smile?

The footage is blunt and artless. Full of jump cuts and wide shots, the video reads like an elementary school presentation, yet the simplicity and awkward splicing highlight the discomfiture of Luna’s audience beautifully. The technique is disorienting and effective.

If the video feed itself is guileless, so is the message behind it. Take a Picture with a Real Indian is a performance piece of Luna’s from 1991. Luna, a Luiseño indian, lives on California’s La Jolla Reservation. He entered the art field as a painter, then transitioned to sculptural and performance-based work and taught as a studio instructor for a time.

Primarily, Luna uses his performances to question the lines modern society draws between cultures. His Take a Picture piece, performed live in venues across America, is currently housed in video-projection format at the Anchorage museum. It’s a component of “Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 2,” a collection of contemporary works by more than 175 Native artists of the West, Northwest, and Pacific; 16 of the artists are Alaskan.

Take a Picture is a good synopsis of the show — like most of “Changing Hands,” it’s confrontational, but ideas, rather than people, are the objects of that confrontation. The questions raised address matters of perception rather than concrete acts, and in doing so avoid exploiting too heavily the “white-guilt” theme often found in culture-specific exhibitions.

Although many of the works are discomfiting, most stop short of being accusational and remain open and inquisitive. In many cases, they seem just as critical of Native perception of indigenous identity as they are of white. Sitka artist Nick Galanin’s What have we become?, a three-dimensional relief of a human face cut from the blank pages of a book, represents the tendency of contemporary Native peoples to reference outside sources
⎯ often in the form of foreign-written books ⎯ in search of their own historical identity.

“We digest it,” he says of the extra-cultural perspective, “and it regurgitates back out into our culture.” That “regurgitation” contributes to a sense of confusion among both Native and white cultures about the nature of indigenous identity. Galanin’s altered book presents a blank face; the pages imply a story, but it’s one that can’t be read ⎯ no matter who’s looking at it.

What have we become?
doesn’t appear in the Anchorage portion of the “Changing Hands” exhibit, but its message is still integral to understanding the show. The piece is replaced by a work with a similar theme: Who we are, a rapid-fire barrage of projected photos Galanin likes to refer to as “re-appropriated imagery.” The images, some 50,000 to 60,000 stills, showcase a collection of Native American artifacts; they appear in flashes on the screen like subliminal advertising, one after another, in no particular order. There’s no time to examine or appreciate each one, only to stare at the stream and attempt to remember a bit of carving here, a color scheme there.

“These were compiled by the Burke Museum in the ’70s,” Galanin says. “Most of them were never meant to be owned.” Galanin says the piece references the “museological mentality” of collecting and cataloguing fragments of Native culture, many of which include at.oow, a class of sacred clan or tribal objects usually acquired through an ancestor, sometimes as a gift, but often after that ancestor’s death. “These are things that [have been] ripped out of context,” he says. “It’s a feeling that indigenous people have. We’re defined by archives.”

Across the gallery from Galanin’s projection, a carved wooden Indian stands against the wall. The piece, Doug Coffin’s Cigar Store Indian, closely resembles its convenience store prop namesake but for one difference — the statue’s face has been replaced by a compact TV screen.

“What’s your favorite Native American movie?” The frame fills with a tan, black-haired child’s face.

“Uh…. Mortal Kombat!” The child answers, hesitation giving way to enthusiasm. The tape cuts back and forth like a miniature documentary as an unseen narrator fires questions at Native and non-Native subjects. Some of the answers are well thought out and articulate, while others are laughable; some are embarrassing. The interviews frequently cut to footage from old Westerns, and discussions of racism and descriptions of daily life are interspersed with bang bang shoot-‘em-up cowboy and Indian chases.

“What do you get when eight Lakota women stand in a circle?” asks a Lakota woman. “A full set of teeth!” She cackles, then slaps her own face. It’s funny. It’s not funny. It seems very much like part of the missing text from Galanin’s book.

Though the video pieces in “Changing Hands” demand immediate attention, the static works are just as compelling. Some pieces, like Gerald Clark’s Ethnopoly, David Bradley’s Land O’ Bucks, Land O’ Fakes, Land O’ Lakes, and Judy Chartrand’s Warholian Metis Soup Cans, present an ironic form of reverse-appropriation. Familiar Caucasian artifacts are tweaked to depict Native themes. The resulting pieces come across as sincere, and sometimes a bit wry.

“Each of the works in the exhibit expresses individual realities,” says Chartrand. “If there seem to be a lot of issue-based works, that is probably because there are a lot of issues we have to deal with on a constant basis.”

Others abandon all pretense of humor. Made of green plastic army men, Steven Deo’s America’s Child, a slightly abstract but readily recognizable infant with its arms stretched out, is mute and faceless. The piece doesn’t need features or vocal cords to communicate; its message is as clear and precise as a military command. Like many of the objects found in “Changing Hands,” Deo’s is the kind of work that frequently draws criticism from both the Native and non-Native community.

America’s Child, like Luna’s performances, Galanin’s altered book and video, Chartrand’s soup cans, and countless other works of contemporary Native artists are not, in the conventional sense, traditional. Or are they?

As well as addressing the evolving identity of indigenous American cultures, the work within “Changing Hands” illustrates the fluid nature of tradition. Tradition stems from history, but if history itself expands with the course of time, isn’t tradition also subject to constant revision? If Native art work has, as a rule, paid homage in subject and material to its creator’s environment, why shouldn’t it reflect that changing environment? Under present circumstances, aren’t plastics, videotape, and Lone Star bottles appropriately traditional materials? Aren’t bustiers, telephones, and board games traditional subjects?

“In this new process of assimilation
no one will die as painfully
or as forcefully as when they died the first time.”

Duane Slick’s words appear in a frame of his The meaning of art, a series of photographs and transparencies sandwiched between folding panels of plexiglass. The body of a fawn appears and fades from view into a pixilated haze of what looks like white noise printed in blue. With a barrage of advertorial buzzwords, Slick documents the arrival of capitalism and consumer culture on a reservation in Canada — an idea he pairs with the traditional tale of a tribal hunter who “killed everything,” including a fawn, which the man devoured but for its legs.

“In this new process of assimilation
the future does not exist
and they will not see themselves
as anything more than ghosts.”

Slick describes the hunter’s shamed attempt to hide the fawn’s body, its discovery, and the man’s sudden confrontation of innocence subsumed by pursuit of pleasure.

“In this new process of assimilation
death will be slow and exciting because everything will
be new and they will desire it just so. “

Slick’s own severed ponytail comprises the final frame of the piece, along with the phrase “I long to believe your interventions will guide the outcome of my actions.”

What actions? Whose interventions? Slick’s piece offers no clarification. Perhaps the tightly banded hair is eloquent enough; once an accepted portion of its owner’s identity, it is no longer essential. Left as evidence, like the legs of the fawn, Slick’s ponytail suggests that identity is as ephemeral as life. Both are subject to sudden and violent change.

“Changing Hands” presents a familiar topic — without a tired perspective. The exhibit asks its audience not so much to examine conventional perspectives of Native identity, tradition, and artwork, but to examine why those perspectives exist. What qualifies as tradition, what defines convention, and what makes either legitimate?

Although the themes and ideas portrayed within the individual objects are different, the courage evident in each of them is the same. These aren’t dime store painted pots and polar bears mass-marketed by poster cutouts. These are real works of art produced by “real” Indians.



Beyond tradition: selections from 'Changing Hands' exhibit: Native artists challenge expectations in touring exhibit of contemporary works.


By Sarah Henning

Anchorage Daily News, May 20, 2007




That has become Joseph Senungetuk's mantra as he has watched other artists rush to produce souvenirs for the crowds tumbling off cruise ships.

The Anchorage artist said Alaskana is about the exchange of money, not the exchange of culture or ideas. He said it's meaningless to him, to the tourist and, by extension, to the universe.

In the exhibit "Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 2," Senungetuk's work is displayed alongside that of other like-minded contemporary artists determined to expand people's ideas of what Native art is.

The touring exhibit of contemporary Native art from the North American West, Northwest and Pacific coast was curated by the Museum of Arts & Design in New York City. It's the second installment of a three-part series designed to paint the landscape of contemporary Native North American art.

The first exhibit, which opened in 2002, focused on the American Southwest. The third exhibit will open in 2010 and feature work from the east coasts of Canada and the United States.

Since "Changing Hands" opened in 2005 at its curating museum, the exhibit has toured the country. Now it's Alaska's turn: The exhibit opened Thursday at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center and will be on display through Sept. 15.

The original exhibit featured 190 artists including 30 from Alaska or with Alaska roots. The touring version has been pared down to about 100 artists who work in video and glass, plastic and steel, as well as traditional materials infused with an updated aesthetic. Colorful beads create a postcard from Indian Country. A peace pipe's holes are plugged with casino chips. Cedar bark is woven into a bustier.

Sitka artist Nicholas Galanin, who has a paper sculpture in the exhibit, said traditional Native art will always be vital, but there is a time and place for new ideas too.

"We had a lot of our culture taken away from us, and now that we're gaining this back again, we want to hold onto it really tightly," he said. "But I think you can hold onto it too tightly and stifle it. I think balance is necessary."

The works here are a sampling from "The Human Condition," a portion of the "Changing Hands" exhibit. Of the exhibit's four thematic sections, this one includes the most daring and provocative artworks. In phone interviews, the artists whose works appear here mined their social, political and historical ideas and questioned belief systems.

What Have We Become? Vol. II (2004)

NICHOLAS GALANIN, Sitka; Tlingit/Aleut


WHAT THE PHOTO DOESN'T TELL YOU: In his "What Have We Become?" series, Galanin carves portraits from books written about Native American culture and history.


"We're often being represented by institutions, history books, museums. A lot of these books are written by foreigners or people not from our culture. The foreign perspective is valuable to us, but it's a different perspective than ours. Our culture kind of takes those ideas in and regurgitates them, and we can become these things. We have to look at these things and how they affect us.

"A lot of this body of work is about the irony of coming from an oratory culture and me having to discover a lot about my culture in books."

At What Cost? (2004)

BRIAN BARBER, Seattle; Oklahoma Pawnee/Caucasian

Cast glass, steel, epoxy resin

WHAT THE PHOTO DOESN'T TELL YOU: The cast glass is taken from a mold of the artist's hand.

WHAT HE WAS THINKING: Barber could see the Iraq war from several perspectives, being descended from the Pawnee people, who have a strong military history, as well as coming from an Air Force family but not enlisting himself.

"I was thinking about what was going on and what was at the root of why we were going in there and questioning it. Are we going in there for freedom or to make our own country more secure, or are we going there for oil? Is oil more precious than blood? Should we be sacrificing lives for a resource? This piece ultimately asks a question about sacrifice."

Barber said many people in his devout Christian family interpreted the piece to be about Christ's sacrifice for humanity, and at the exhibit opening in New York City, some viewers saw a message about the bloody history between Native Americans and Europeans.

"That actually brings me a lot of joy, that different people can get a lot of different ideas out of it."

Land O Bucks, Land O Fakes, Land O Lakes (2003)

DAVID BRADLEY, Sante Fe, N.M.; Minnesota Chippewa

Paint, paper, wood

WHAT THE PHOTO DOESN'T TELL YOU: There is a story in Bradley's family that one of his relatives auditioned to be the model for the Indian maiden on Land O'Lakes butter packaging.


"This piece is about the wholesale commodification of Indian people -- making a buck off Indians, in other words.

"There's a whole lot of complicated psychology behind the commercial exploitation of the sexuality of the alluring, exotic Indian maiden ... why they would use this image to sell their stuff and why they think it helps them to sell their stuff.

"A lot of it ties into America's love/hate relationship with Indian people, the exaggerated black-or-white version of Indians as either bloodthirsty savages or the noble warrior/beautiful exotic Pocahontas.

"Indians aren't just this or that. They're people. They're complex. But when you use people as logos, it takes all our humanity away."

Metis Soup Cans (2004)

JUDY CHARTRAND, Coquitlam, British Columbia; Manitoba Cree

Low-fire clay, glaze, luster, wood

WHAT THE PHOTO DOESN'T TELL YOU: Chartrand incorporated Metis Cree and English text on the ceramic soup cans to describe the contents.


"Although the soup is a mass-marketed consumer item that is a recognizable symbol of the American way of life, First Nations people on or off the reserve appear to be erased from the overall picture as active participants in this consumer society. This points back to the issues of visibility and invisibility.

"By including a Native identity into the Campbell's soup can series, I have done a couple of things. First, I have made a proactive gesture, indicating the fact that Native people also have a vested interest in the urban, consumer and modern experience.

"Secondly, I have inserted a cultural identity into pop art by referencing Andy Warhol's Campbell's soup series and giving them a Metis/Cree identity."

Native art exhibit is a cultural feast

The new vitality of native art shines through in objects large and small. Two mixed-media masks by the Oregon-based artist Phillip Charette, are real showstoppers. Titled "Negaquaq (North Wind Spirits)," the masks are made of wood, clay, beads, rawhide and wild turkey feathers. They have a commanding presence, reminding the viewer that such objects were meant to be powerful and sometimes intimidating.

Light-hearted pieces, like the tiny, colorful wooden figures created by Benjamin Harjo balance out the heavier sentiments. The "Aleut Chief's Hat" by Peter Lind is similarly playful. It combines materials ranging from Sitka spruce to seal whiskers into a truly unique bit of headgear.

Virtuoso beadwork, such as a beaded purse with fish designs by Maynard White Owl Lavadour, testifies to a resurgence of interest in an old craft technique. There are also stunning examples of personal ornament. Kenneth Johnson's "Three-Tiered Turtle Gorget Necklace," made of gold, platinum, peridot stones and diamonds, displays the artist's considerable jewelry-making skills.

The art on view ranges from elegant to funky and all points in between. Preston Singletary's "Shaman's Amulet" is a beautifully simple piece of blue glass in the shape of a whale, covered with symbolic imagery related to sight and power. A large, black clay vessel by Glen Nipshank is gracefully irregular in shape, decorated with stars and cosmic whorls. Wilma Osborne's shaggy "Messenger Bag" is fashioned from sealskin and polar bear fur, not materials you run across very often in art museums.

Pop art-inspired riffs on familiar consumer products offer in-your-face social commentary. Canadian artist Judy Chartrand recreated Campbell's iconic red and white soup cans in clay. Her "Metis Soup Cans" are labeled with "native" flavors like elk, antelope, and "hangover."

Haruko Okano, Judy Chartrand, and Wayde Compton: Lost & Found

By robin laurence

Publish Date: 17-Aug-2006

At Access Artist Run Centre until August 26

Lost & Found is one of a recent series of lively and thought-provoking exhibitions located within and speaking to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. This is art that reflects and reacts to the neighbourhood’s social, cultural, and economic complexities, both contemporary and historical. Organized in conjunction with the recent Powell Street Festival, the show brings together three local artists of diverse cultural backgrounds and creative expressions: Judy Chartrand, Wayde Compton, and Haruko Okano.

Their various works record not only the interweaving of immigrant and indigenous cultures, but also the losses and reclamations these groups have experienced. Okano’s text-based project and Compton’s sound piece both explore language as a stage for enacting cultural identity and confronting racial discrimination. Chartrand’s mixed-media installation challenges us—beautifully, icily, angrily—with an accumulation of ugly prejudices and ethnic stereotypes.

Okano’s Homing Pidgin Project introduces visitors to words and phrases she has recovered from a hybrid language that Japanese Canadians developed and spoke during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Through printed handouts and magnetic strips, along with a small table, chairs, and place settings symbolizing the meeting of two cultures, we are encouraged to learn a little of a lost oral transition. Lusto, “last”; pecha pecha, “chatter”; aza, “other”—liveliness and inventiveness are palpable qualities here. At the same time, it’s evident that pidgin languages represent the mainstream’s gradual erasure of immigrant (and indigenous) cultures.

Compton’s <<Black>><<Canadian>><<Standard>> <<English>><<Vocal>><<Migration>> is a kind of oral history focused on second-generation Canadians whose families are of African origin. In what he describes in the exhibition brochure as “an archive of now”, Compton has recorded interviews with four Vancouverites. Each tells her or his own story and explores the ways in which language is used as a tool of discrimination and cultural stereotyping. The recordings are made on an acetate dub plate that looks like a large LP and double-tracked so that each side of the plate conveys two interviews, the one we hear depending on the direction in which the record is played. The articulateness of the participants underscores the prejudices that such eloquence exposes and unsettles in the mainstream.

Chartrand’s installation of newly created, found, and altered objects calls up something of her First Nations childhood in the Downtown Eastside. Counteract simulates an immaculately white coffee counter with white stools, white condiments, white menu, and white cups, saucers, implements, and accessories. All the colour in the work is located behind the counter: a game board, a bulletin board, and a wall-mounted shelf crammed with souvenirs and chachkas, all denigrating depictions of people of colour. These found objects, which include cartoonish dolls, china figurines, table lamps, and postcards, in addition to Chartrand’s skillfully executed ceramic duplications and enlargements of some of them, reveal a long and shameful history of prejudice and oppression. It’s an absorbing and distressing work.

CBC British Columbia - North by Northwest Visual Arts

Judy Chartrand, Wayde Compton and Haruko Okano discuss their installation Lost and Found. It's at the Access Artist Run Centre until August 26.  Listen to this interview

Ceramic Art Holds More Than Water - By robin laurence

Publish Date: 19-Feb-2004

Thrown At the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery until June 6 Hot Clay At the Surrey Art Gallery until March 28

Two concurrent survey exhibitions of ceramic art represent widely divergent streams of thinking and making. Thrown: Influences and Intentions of West Coast Ceramics, at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, examines the local studio pottery movement of the 1960s and '70s. It encompasses nearly 700 functional and domestic objects, produced under the influence of the 20th century's big pottery gurus, Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada. At the Surrey Art Gallery, Hot Clay: Sixteen West Coast Ceramic Artists focuses on challenges to the Leachian model: nonfunctional, fantastical, or political ceramic sculpture of the present day. Directly or indirectly, however, both shows pose questions about why ceramic art, once associated with the progressive and the avant-garde, has been excluded from high-art institutions and discourses for the past 25 years.

Curated by Scott Watson and Lee Plested, with consultation from Charmian Johnson, one of our most esteemed and knowledgeable ceramicists, Thrown brings together works of some dozen West Coast artists, four of whom apprenticed at the Leach Pottery in St. Ives, Cornwall, and others who were strongly affected by Leach's East-meets-West philosophy and aesthetics. Of principal interest here are Johnson herself, Mick Henry, Tam Irving, Glenn Lewis, Wayne Ngan, John Reeve, and Ian Steele.

Their output ranges from vases, urns, and lidded jars to teapots, bowls, mugs, plates, and casserole dishes. The impact of Leach, and his close associate Hamada, is seen in the simplicity and humility of these objects, the earthy shades of the glazes and clay bodies, and the calligraphic nature of the brushed decoration. Among the most accomplished and compelling works are Reeve's strong and forthright vessels with their pinched bases, Johnson's elegant bowls with their beautifully hued and mottled glazes, Ngan's breathtaking virtuosity of form and finish, and Irving's humorously bulging pots and architectonic boxes.

Although some of the pottery on display is clumsy and awkward, these four artists appear to have sprung fully formed from their elemental medium. Clay is evidently a true vocation for them--a true expression of their beings. (Among the videos on view in the gallery is the 1984 TV production Wayne Ngan: Island Potter, written and narrated by the late Doris Shadbolt. In it Ngan says that making pottery is "like touching the core of yourself".)

As summarized in the exhibition brochure, Leach's Buddhist and Taoist aesthetics and his philosophy of functionality, simplicity, handmadeness, and the integration of art into everyday life intersected with both the Fluxus-oriented avant-garde and the counterculture movement of the 1960s and '70s. It especially accorded with the hippie rejection of corporate values, mass production, and overconsumption, and the embrace of Eastern religions and philosophies. (Perhaps the antiestablishment nature of the studio pottery movement is a clue to its eventual marginalization. In its vaunting of expensive and exclusive photographic and film technologies, the postmodern art world is not exactly exercising independence from the corporate agenda.)

In her catalogue essay, SAG curator Liane Davison writes that Hot Clay looks at notions of vessels while focusing on "the antithesis of the humble brown pot". This approach is partially reiterated in Bill Rennie's artist's statement, in which he declares that he's "sick of the vessel metaphor" and interested in clay as an unencumbered sculptural medium. "Why does everything made of clay have to seem like it holds something?" he wonders, as a kind of preamble to the intricate, baroque, and obsessively modelled architectural sculptures and tableaux he creates. (Some of his work is charming; some, merely odd.)

Linda Sormin, Meg Ida, and Sally Michener also deviate widely from the humble pot. Michener's series of figurative sculptures, "States of Being", are evocative of Venezuelan artist Escobar Marisol's wooden works of the 1960s, not only in their address of the female form and psyche but also in their juxtaposition of pop and surrealist sensibilities. Slender towers of disjunct body parts, they are among the best sculpture Michener has produced in recent years.

Although Laura Wee Láy Láq transforms the ordinary ceramic vessel into an object of extraordinary beauty, there are other artists here whose work plays fantastically on the vessel form while disrupting its function. Of the latter, look for Pat Taddy's "Salvage Yard Teapots", composed of slip-cast industrial components, and Allison Feargrieve's Escape, a kind of mad potter's tea party whose slimy and suggestive organic forms play attraction against repulsion.

The most overtly political work here is by Judy Chartrand, whose simulated lard tins and spray cans take on postcolonial issues for First Nations people, including racism and cultural stereotyping. Her series of five large bowls, "If This Is What You Call 'Being Civilized', I'd Rather Go Back to Being a 'Savage'", addresses conditions of life and death in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Combining underglazed and stamped images of cockroaches, syringes, neon signs, and bottles, Chartrand's beautifully crafted vessels hold something, all right: angry humour and outrage.

Their Infinite VARIETY; Exhibit Showcases a Rich, Bewildering Array of Native Creativity

Albuquerque Journal March 17, 2006

Email to a friend Voice your opinion By About Art TOM COLLINS

For the Journal Sometimes titles of art exhibitions tell you nothing, and sometimes they tell you everything you need to know. The exhibition title "Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 2: Contemporary Native North American Art from the West, Northwest & Pacific," which comes to the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe from the Museum of Art and Design in New York, says a mouthful and promises to cover a daunting amount of tribal and aesthetic ground. Indeed, it does so.

Following the exhibition "Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 1," which focused on contemporary Native American art of the American Southwest, "Art Without Reservation 2" focuses -- if that is the right word -- on works by 175 living Native artists that are as vastly varied and diverse as the geographical area that the show encompasses -- from the Mississippi River, west across the Great Plains to the Plateaus, the Pacific Ocean, the Northwest Coast and the far reaches of northwest Canada including Alaska, and extending all the way to the Hawaiian Islands.

Curators Ellen Napiura Taubman, an independent consultant and curator, and David Revere McFadden, formerly of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum and the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos, and currently chief curator and vice president for programs and collections at the Museum of Arts and Design, have not only said a mouthful with their titles, but they have almost bitten off more than they can chew with such an ambitious and wide-ranging survey exhibition.

The huge amount of work, the vast majority of it threedimensional of one sort or another, is rather strangely divided up into four different categories of presentation -- "The Human Condition," "Material Evidence," "Beyond Function," and "Nature as Subject." The categories become nearly irrelevant as the incredible welter of works blurs any discernible divisions based on materials, intentions, or motivations. Within each category the conceptual co- exists happily with the classic and traditional; the ironic resides with the iconic; the reverential with the ridiculous and outrageous.

Frankly, from this point of view, the crowd of works by the huge throng of contemporary Native American artists seems to fall into one of three categories = craft, fine art, or a blend of both. Further, they can be said to fall into one or the other of several general, easily identifiable categories, which I would conjecture to label as "Tradition," "Updating Tradition," "Commenting on Tradition and Identity (Politics)," and "In the Tradition of Contemporary American Art."

Over this last category, it is the career of Andy Warhol and the mass-market quotation and literalism of Pop Art that casts such a long shadow. Judy Chartrand's (Vancouver, B.C.) box of five shelves of Campbell Soup cans, perfectly replicated in ceramic, and hilariously customized on the labels for the Indian market ("Elk," "Moose Nose," "Bear Meat") is a witty knock on Andy and mass culture, while the multi-media "Capturing the Flag on Campbell Soup" by Stan Natchez (Mesa, Ariz.) gets a sardonic shot at Andy's iconic cans, forming the red and white stripes in the American flag, as a heroic Indian warrior on his pinto war pony, right out of a 19th century ledger drawing, gallops across the page.

On the other hand, a couple of Hawaiian artists seem to have found fertile ground in the wideopen, materials-based femconceptualism of Eva Hess; Kapulani Landgraf (Kaneohe, Hawaii), with her suspended mummy surrounded by floating fishhooks, "Death in the Deep Sea," and Kaili Chun (Honolulu, Hawaii) with her mysterious objects in impeccably made koa wood cabinets. For real hilarity, check out Doug Coffin's (Lawrence, Kan.; lives in Abiquiu) perfect replica "Cigar Store Indian" with a video monitor face that plays a tape loop featuring John Wayne fighting Indians, Burt Lancaster as Jim Thorpe, and some bizarre "interviews" with Native American characters purporting to comment on Native Americans from a white perspective.

These interviews include the great Indian joke -- "What do white people do when their car breaks down? (Pause) They fix it." In addition, there is the frankly political commentary of Steven Deo's (Claremore, Okla.; lives in Rio Rancho) "America's Child," constructed out of little green plastic army guys, just like the ones I played with as a kid; Teri Greeves' (Wind River Reservation, Wyo.; lives in Santa Fe) stylin', beaded Converse All-Star high-top basketball shoes as a fashion statement beyond Air Jordan; and don't miss Molly Murphy's (Great Falls, Mont.) hot "Parfleche Abstraction, Cool Tones Warm Tones" of commercial woven wool and beads.

One of the highlights of the exhibition and a work in particular which seamlessly, transcendently bridges all divides of culture, race, craft and art are Sonya Kelliher-Combs strange, disturbing "organisms" of stitched walrus stomach shot through with myriad porcupine quills. They look found, not made; living, not dead. All in all, however, with so many masks and fish motifs in the exhibition, it is the profound sculptural and cultural presence of the Northwest Coast and British Columbia Natives that really seems to pervade this show. All in all, an extraordinarily ambitious exercise. E-mail: If you go WHAT: "Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 2: Contemporary Native North American Art from the West, Northwest & Pacific" WHEN: Through April 30 WHERE: Institute of American Indian Arts Museum, Cathedral Place ©Georgetown Times 2006

Small-scale sculptures 30, 000 + at the Charles H. Scott Gallery (Emily Carr Institute) until Jan 30 by Ritu Kumar, Culture Writer

It’s a chilly Saturday afternoon when I enter the Charles H. Scott Gallery at the Emily Carr Institute on Granville Island. The small, bright gallery is next to empty and resonates the usual museum-like quiet and stillness offered by most art galleries. The gallery has been taken over by 30, 000+, an exhibit featuring seven artists and their creations.

30, 000+ features talent and creativity expressed mostly through ceramic, clay, and some metal. Needless to say, with a total of just over 20 pieces in the gallery, the exhibit is small but nevertheless enjoyable.

Specifically, the pieces by artists Judy Chartrand and Paul Mathieu stand out in my mind. Chartrand crafted three pieces for the show; all three are shelves lined with everyday commercial products. Everyday products, which, upon closer inspection, stand as a statement of the treatment of natives. Want some “consistently lumpy” Residential School porridge? Why not try a can of Campbell’s Métis soup in Antelope or even Indian Agent? Through her art, Chartrand tries to convey a message.

Paul Mathieu seemed the most ambitious of the group, with seven of the total 23 pieces. He remained strong for the most part, only failing in his banal piece “Digital Manipulation” in which he rather ordinarily depicted a stream of urine flowing from a close-up of a penis. Mathieu makes up for the failure in the rest of his work by incorporating socio-political messages in his “Salt and Pepper Shakers,” and by juxtaposing the classical Roman with the ancient Chinese in “Flower Vase.”

The remaining five artists showcase work ranging from the pointless (Chuang) to the mind-boggling (Sormin) to the delicious (Sammarco). Julie York played with the contents of the kitchen—funnels, eggs, butter, cupcakes—>while retaining a modern style by working only with white. Ying-Yueh Chuang’s three ceramic “Plant Creations” lacked statement or voice and were highly unmemorable in their style.

I would have liked to see more by artist Jeremy Hatch, as the one piece he did have on display, “Still,” featured a life-size swing set, white and frozen in time, allowing the viewer to fill in the blanks with personal memories and expectations. Moving on from Hatch, both my companion and I wondered what could be going on in the mind of Linda Sormin. It cannot be argued, though, that her sculptures, “Ubi,” “Qui,” and “Tuus” are not eye-catching. In fact, I had a hard time looking away, simply because I didn’t even know what I was looking at.

30, 000+ is largely held up by the work of Paul Mathieu, while Chartrand and Sammarco maintain a high calibre in their pieces as well. The range of the artwork overall is somewhat small, but it is worth visiting the exhibition, even if just to view the Princess Di and Dodi salt and pepper shakers.

History comes to the BAG

Arts Scene column by Annie Boulanger

Whether it's First Nations, Oriental-style brushwork, or the whole range of paint media, you can see it all at Deer Lake Park.

At the Burnaby Art Gallery, First Nations Now is an exhibition of work that, in the words of curator Peter Morin, of the Tahltan Nation: "These days, the art is about telling the stories well, and about _ the people who have come before, whose suffering and living needs to be acknowledged."

This is not a downbeat show. There's plenty of sardonic humour, as in Terrance Houle's bright photos of himself dressed in his teacher's version of Indian regalia, or Judy Chartrand's realistic ceramic soup cans and Lysol aerosol tins, arranged in wooden cupboards, looking very ordinary till you read the labels. There's storytelling and food for thought in Ike Willard's large panels, Coyote and the People Killer.

Tania Williard's large oil, Spiritual Survival, uses the familiar robes and halos of Christian art for the conferring trio of wolf, fox and raven. There is pathos here too, in Charlene Vickers' oil on copper renditions of residential beds and cots. Works like Janice Toulouse Shinwaak's From Manhattan to Menatay and her Buffalo Hierophony juxtapose the past and the present, one in tribute to 9/11, the other to the almost extermination of a species.

Complementing these works are those chosen from Burnaby's permanent print collection by curator Darrin Martens. There's the calm dignity of works like Ambleside Park/Swaywi by Xwa-Lack-tun, or the artistry of Yuxweluptun's Super Clearcut, which shows the devastation created by uncontrolled forestry, in a composition that still honours the beauty of the landscape, while mourning its destruction, as a shaman dances.

First Nations Now is well worth a visit, and continues through November. Next week, the upstairs gallery will be showing works by Toni Onley, some never before on exhibit.

Web Exhibits   (interactive site - point on text or images and click)