The cover art of the October 2013 edition of Alberta Native News is a detail from “Southwest Visit” by internationally acclaimed artist Alex Janvier. From October 19 – 30, 2013, the Bearclaw Gallery in Edmonton featured a collection of works by Janvier. The exhibit is entitled “Reconnecting” and it celebrates the friendship of artists Alex Janvier and Ernestine Tahedl (on exhibit at the Bugera Matheson Gallery), who both started their careers in Edmonton in the 1960s.
At the time, Alex was a recent graduate with a Fine Arts Diploma from the Alberta College of Art in Calgary, and Ernestine had come over from Austria to work on a stained glass commission and ended up staying. With many accolades and achievements over the past half century, these two artists have many stories to tell.
The Bearclaw Gallery and Bugera Matheson Gallery held simultaneous exhibitions celebrating a friendship that has endured over 50 years.
With a vast list of accomplishments which include the Order of Canada, National Aboriginal Lifetime Achievement Award and the Governor General Award, Alex Janvier at age 79, is unquestionably one of Canada’s great artists.
“My work often reflects what I see as a human being living on this earth,” said the artist in a recent interview. “I see our people living and
learning and sharing; I see accomplishment, growth, tenacity and solidarity. We as Aboriginal peoples have lived on this land, this earth of ours, for a very long time and we have seen and experienced (both) everything horrible and everything joyful. Today there is more joy and more hope but we cannot know what the future will bring; we only know that if we do not learn from our mistakes, the future will not be pleasant. As Native people we have survived many hardships and lived to tell the stories of our ancestors; no matter what the future has in store for us we will continue to survive because it is in our nature to do so.”
Born in 1935 of Dene Suline and Saulteaux descent, Janvier was uprooted from his home at the age of eight years and sent to the Blue Quills Indian Residential School near St. Paul, Alberta. Unlike many Aboriginal artists of his time, Janvier received formal training from the Alberta College of Art in Calgary and graduated with honours in 1960.
As a member of the commonly referred to “Indian Group of Seven,” Janvier is one of the significant pioneering Aboriginal artists in Canada, and as such has influenced many generations of Aboriginal artists
“My Art is truly North American…it has its indigenous roots,” explained Janvier. ” I enjoy what I do, I really do. Some of my artwork is healing for me and for anyone who wants to accept it that way. Through my art, people don’t have to remain ‘stuck’. . . I’d like to paint until the day I can’t paint anymore.”
The Bearclaw Gallery, located at 10403 124 Street in Edmonton is well-known and highly regarded as a fine Canadian First Nations art dealer and gallery. Over the last three decades, the Bearclaw Gallery has established solid relationships with First Nations artists from across Canada and has proudly promoted Canadian First Nations and Inuit art and artists to buyers both at home and internationally.