Dec 2011 2

Vancouver Galleries: First Nations and Inuit Art

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Daphne Odjig Daphne Odjig in Lattimer Gallery

Aboriginal art has always had a very strong tradition in Vancouver, both in homes and galleries around the city. Most of the galleries selling First Nations and Inuit art were established some 30-40 years ago, in the times when Aboriginal motifs became highly fashionable. According to some gallery owners, nowadays, as the First Nations and Inuit hype is no longer so powerful, people tend to be less interested in the “mystery” behind these artworks. Instead, they take interest in quality and artistic value, and if they’re considering purchasing an art-piece, they are happy to buy even one from a contemporary artist using First Nations or Inuit motifs. This gives many younger artists focusing on aboriginal art an opportunity to display and sell their works. Here is a selection of the finest Vancouver galleries that make this happen.

Lattimer Gallery (Map)

Phone number: (604) 732-4556

This is the gallery you want to go to when you’re looking for some authentic First Nations jewellery and sculptures. Their also offers other artworks like masks, bentwood boxes, and prints, but who really cares about those when you have the opportunity to lay your hands on some of the most unique jewellery in B.C.? And what’s more, everything is handmade.

Another advantage of Lattimer Gallery is its high diversity of prices. You don’t need thousands of dollars to get something really special for your home. Lattimer also attempts to support upcoming artists and promote their work, and I’m sure that this part of the gallery’s collection contains some truly fascinating pieces as well.

Marion Scott Gallery — Kardosh Projects (Map)

Kakulu Saggiaktok in Marion Scott Gallery
Kakulu Saggiaktok
in Marion Scott Gallery - Kardosh Projects

Phone number: (604) 685-1934

This family-run gallery doesn’t feel like most family-run galleries at all. Its contemporary character and focus on Inuit artists make it so specific that one might ask how such a gallery will survive. I can assure you that you’ll get your answer when you enter. The passion and confidence the gallery presents itself with is quite impressive.

The key to success of this gallery lays somewhere in Cape Dorset, where most of the artists are individually selected for the gallery’s showrooms.

The Gallery has recently expanded its activities to include, under the name Kardosh Projects, a series of sponsored initiatives with some of Canada’s most innovative artists. These projects will include publications, editions, and special commissions intended to give artists new opportunities to pursue their artistic enquiries and share them with the public at large.

There is no doubt that this gallery is one of the few we can ask for the rediscovery of Inuit artworks.

Douglas Reynolds Gallery (Map)

Phone number: (604) 731–9292

yeomans raven 2011 tn
Don Yeomans (Haida)
in Douglas Reynolds Gallery

This is the kind of gallery you should visit even if you’re not considering the purchase of any artwork. The display of collections is quite impressive, despite the fact that the gallery itself isn’t very spacious. I mean it: don’t bring too many people along, as it might get overcrowded easily.

The specialities of Douglas Reynolds Gallery are historic carvings, masks, and contemporary prints. The fact that this gallery is highly curated is visible immediately after you enter through the front door. The staff is very well trained and ready to answer all your questions.

The gallery carries works by well-known artists such as Robert Davidson, Bill Reid, Beau Dick, and Don Yeomans, while also supporting emerging Native artists such as Phil Gray, David R. Boxley, Jay Simeon, and Marcus Alfred.

Inuit Gallery of Vancouver (Map)

Phone number: 1-888-615-8399 (Toll Free)

Arctic Hare Kelly Qimirpik
Arctic Hare Kelly Qimirpik
in Inuit Gallery of Vancouver

One of the biggest advantages of this gallery is tradition. Some people don’t consider this to be important; however, years of networking can influence the range of artworks offered quite significantly. The Inuit Gallery of Vancouver was established in 1979 and has been providing Vancouver-based art collectors with Inuit and Northwest Coast Native art ever since.

The staff is very helpful, whether you come as a private viewer or just a random person walking by. They are also quite willing to set up a payment plan if you don’t have the cash on you to pay right away. If you’re interested, they even offer regular updates on sales. If you’d like to ship your art-piece somewhere outside of Vancouver, Inuit Gallery ships worldwide.

The gallery claims that it specializes in fine Inuit sculpture in stone and bone, Inuit prints and original drawings, museum-quality Northwest Coast First Nations masks, totem poles, bentwood boxes, and other ceremonial objects. This is mostly true, although their contemporary collection is not always as impressive as they present it. Still, it can surprise you from time to time.

Share your opinion on First Nations/Inuit art with us!

Do you know any other interesting gallery that specializes in First Nations or Inuit art? Not everybody shares a passion for this kind of art. Are you one of them? Does this kind of art have any deeper meaning for you? Do you think that contemporary artworks using Aboriginal motifs should be appreciated as much as traditional pieces? We’ll be happy to hear your reactions!

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