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“Transitions in Northwest Coast Art”

Douglas Reynolds Gallery
Vancouver BC Jun 12-26, 2003

Charlie James Pole
Charlie James Pole (1920), red cedar and oil paint
[Douglas Reynolds Gallery, Vancouver, BC
Jun 12-26, 2003]

For the past eight years, the Douglas Reynolds Gallery has offered a wide selection of museum-quality Northwest Coast art. This anniversary exhibit explores the history of indigenous traditions by First Nations people on the coast of British Columbia.

Several themes punctuate the curatorial selection of works for display. Traditional ritualistic pieces depict early native life and traditions through such ceremonial woodcarvings as masks and totem poles. These fascinating works from the 1800s portray ancestral and supernatural figures described in the stories of First Nations people. During the period following the mid-1800s, native artwork showed evidence of the impact of European visitors. Many early trade pieces, including carved bowls, small totem poles and portraits of Europeans, reflected themes related to the first contacts.

The growth of tourism and the desire by visitors to acquire indigenous art as curios influenced production in the early 20th century. There was suddenly a great demand for souvenir baskets, boxes and small totem poles. In the late 20th century, public museums and galleries began to show contemporary works by recent generations of First Nation artists, who reinterpreted traditional themes in fresh ways. Their paintings, drawings and carvings clearly demonstrate the evolution of new media and new approaches. Transitions features pieces from each historical era, tracing themes from ceremonial artworks to early trade items and from curios to fine art.

© Mia Johnson

 Sat, Jun 7, 2003