Quintana Gallery specializes in indigenous art, old and new. At some point in the intervening years, they have moved from Old Town into the Pearl. I wonder why I had not visited Quintana in years.
My folks collected Inuit soapstone carvings, so I grew up with it. I have a couple of pieces, one badly damaged, and one small carving, that had been theirs in my home. They are not spectacular pieces, but they mean a lot to me anyway.
I have seen enough of this kind of work to know that the gallery had some really exceptional carvings. My favorite was this incredible walrus by Mathew Saviajuk. This piece is so alive, so full of walrusness. It is easy to forget he is carved in stone, he seems so blubbery. And amazing to imagine that this subtle carving was done with an axe.
I also enjoyed the spirit masks with their concentric circles representing different aspects of the soul, a physical manifestation of unseen worlds. They honor all who make life possible in the Artic, the ancestors and the animals. This is Loon Spirit Mask byJohn Nasoalook Tetpon. It was not one of the pieces that we saw, but it is similar.
The traditional art of the Pacific Northwest has rarely appealed to me in the past, the abstraction used to strike me as too blunt for my taste. But, after so many years here, I have changed my tune. The salmon, bear, whale and thunderbird images that I used to find ugly, must have worked their way into my blood.
The work is often carved and/or painted on cedar, with a thick black or red line known as a form line. Sometimes the shapes are filled in with green. Modern artists have expanded this tradition into print work, using that characteristic boldness to great advantage. You can read more about this fascinating work here.
They make all sorts of things, the ubiquitous totem poIes, paddles and canoes, but I love these bentwood boxes. Not only were they used to store things, but they were apparently used to cook in as well. They filled the boxes with water and dropped in hot stones to cook things. Ingenious.
If I had something this stunning, I promise that I would never cook in it! This beauty is Codfish's Red Face by Andy Wilbur Peterson.
The gallery is lovely, the work is fabulous, but I have to point out that it was the gallerist made it special.
She was thrilled to talk about the work, to tell the story of the piece and the artists who made them. I learned a lot from her about the works on display, about the cultural significance of the work, the materials and tools used to make it.
It was a refreshing change from the usual bored glance you get from the person behind the desk, which barely registers that you even exist.
I will spare you the ultra-mega giant post and continue with part 2 on Wednesday.
(All the images were stolen from Quintana Galleries website.)