Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Morrisseau Time Machine (Part III)

When: December 9, 1985;
Where: Manulife Place, Edmonton, Alberta

© Terry Lusty
Norval Morrisseau, R.C.A., C.M., LL.D., D.Litt., R.S.C.
(March 14th, 1931 - December 4th, 2007)

'Grandmaster' Morrisseau opens new art exhibition

~ Originally published in a Windspeaker /Volume: 4, Issue: 21, Year: 1986/

The grand master of contemporary Indian art, Norval Morrisseau, is making his presence felt once again in the city of Edmonton. The 2nd Annual Norval Morrisseau Art Exhibition was officially opened at Manulife Place on December 9 and offered a slightly different flavor than his exhibit one year ago.

There is a noticeable shift in much of Morrisseau's more recent works in which he seems to employ softer tones that have a more subdued effect as opposed to his bright, vibrant colors as has been customary of his past works.

Morrisseau left Alberta for almost half a year last January and returned to take up residency once more in July. His current plans are to remain in this province for at least another three years. After that, it's anybody's guess. He may remain n Alberta or he may move on elsewhere.

Unfortunately, Morrisseau's exhibition of paintings only managed to attract a maximum of 50 people because it had originally been scheduled and advertised to be held at the West Edmonton Mall. The actual location had to be changed because a contract could not be fulfilled on schedule by the mall which, apparently, had not completed some of the necessary renovations, explained Galal Helmy, owner of the EA Studios in Jasper and sponsor for the Morrisseau exhibit.

Brochures publicizing the display had been mailed out informing the public that it would be at the mall but, because it couldn't meet the needs of the art display, the venue was changed to the Manulife Building. This was most unfortunate for, as it turned out and according to this writer's sources, quite a number of people did show up at the mall only to discover that Morrisseau and his art were not there.

The opening did, however, attract some high profile people such as Native fashion designer Tim Sikyea and Canadian born actor John Vernon, who had made a special trip to the city "to show his support for Norval's artwork."

Vernon, in an address to the viewing public, mentioned that "this is all part and parcel of a family who are interested in Native art." He talked about Alberta having its share of prominent Native artists in the persons of Alex Janvier, Jane Ash Poitras and Morrisseau. "My heart is with you and I'm sure I'll be back," he told Morrisseau as he made reference to his frequent trips to Canada and Alberta lately, but "I haven't bought a condominium here," he joked.

Vernon also had kind words for Edmonton Journal writer Phyllis Matousek and for Agnes and John Bugera, whom he credits for providing him with the names of many important contacts as he prepares for an up-and-coming Canadian Native art show in Los Angeles in February.

As one of his last official duties prior to retirement on December 12, deputy minister of the environment Walter Solodzuk officially opened the exhibition. He spoke on behalf of the minister, Ken Kowalski, and stressed what an "honor and privilege" it was for him "to view the creations of one of Alberta's foremost artists."

Morrisseau extended his usual words of wit and wisdom to the audience which was impressed with his good sense of humor and his concern for the environment which is often the subject of his paintings. "I believe anyone can adapt to the environment like Gauguin did," said the artist. He, and others, were very creative individuals, Morrisseau added.

Also in attendance was Les Graff, director for the Visual Arts department of Alberta Culture.

In concluding the opening ceremonies, Dave Ward, who had served as the master of ceremonies, told the crowd, if you think just a little about harmony and nature, I'll be happy.

The exhibition of Morrisseau's paintings will be displayed and available for purchase until December 23 on the second floor at Manulife Place, 10180 - 101 Street in Edmonton. Both the Bearclaw Gallery of Edmonton and the EA Studios in Jasper handle his art on a continuing basis.

Terry Lusty

>>> Reference post:
- The Morrisseau Time Machine (Part I) &
- The Morrisseau Time Machine (Part II).

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