Tuesday 25 August 2009

REVISED: Event Occurs Tuesday at noon. Raising A Totem Pole - A rare event in Ontario.

Don Yeoman's latest will be raised at the McMichael on Wednesday morning. First new totem pole in a GTA public building since 1984
There are few opportunities to see a totem pole raised in Ontario. For one thing, although there are First Nations' artists who carve Totem Poles in the province, their work is often classed as tourism-driven. Before the turn of the last century, pole carving was not considered part of the Woodland culture.
No, the tradition of totem pole carvings belong to the First Nation Tribes of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Totem poles are monumental sculptures carved from large trees, usually cedar, but mostly Western Redcedar, and the peoples of the west coast have been making them since the 18th century.
According to Wikipedia "totem pole construction underwent a dramatic decline at the end of the 19th century due to American and Canadian policies and practices of acculturation and assimilation."
Although the number of new poles created last century was very small, the tradition continued. And today a number of successful native artists carve totem poles on commission. So successful are these artists that it is hard to purchase a new pole ... their work is such high demand.
Back in 1984, Toronto's sesquicentennial a new totem pole was commissioned and raised inside the public space of the Macleans Magazine / College Park building in downtown Toronto. Since then there hasn't been a totem raised in public space. But, that is going to change next Wednesday!
A new, very modern (the totem includes images of ipods, cell phones and computers) totem carved by Don Yeoman is to be erected next Wednesday morning, indoors, at the McMichael.
I have assisted in both the repossession of an indoor totem in Windsor and the erection of a large two-story totem in Curve Lake, Ontario. Because Totem's tend to have wings at the top, their erection, especially when it is windy, is a very tricky and dangerouns operation.
With that in mind, the McMichael is restricting access to the gallery on Wednesday to working media, when Don Yeomans' 20ft tall totem is erected inside the McMichael's Great Hall. Here are the details.

Photo Opportunity: REVISED TUESDAY, September 1, 2009 at NOON

A Media Exclusive by invitation only! This is the only opportunity to cover the installation of the McMichael’s latest major art acquisition – a twenty-foot totem pole to be raised in the gallery’s Grand Hall.
WHAT: The McMichael Canadian Art Collection has recently commissioned a major acquisition; a full-scale totem pole by artist Don Yeomans will be installed in the gallery as part of its permanent collection. The installation and raising of the twenty-foot totem pole will take place September 2nd at 10:00 a.m. in the gallery’s Grand Hall, which will be closed to the public. Media will have exclusive access to witness and photograph/film this historic moment.
WHEN: Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. (photo op will take a maximum of 30 minutes)
WHERE: McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Grand Hall. The gallery is located on Islington Avenue, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in Kleinburg.
WHO: Media are invited to attend to witness/photograph/film the totem pole installation and speak with: Artist, Don Yeomans; McMichael Executive Director & CEO, Tom Smart.
WHY: Don Yeomans is one of the most respected and renowned Northwest Coast Native artists. Born of a Masset Haida father and a M├ętis mother from Slave Lake, Alberta, Yeomans has studied and worked in the Haida style since he was a youth. He uses many materials in the creation of his artworks and his carving skills are exceptional and consummate his understanding of the Haida form. This latest thought-provoking artwork challenges many traditional native values by interweaving traditional iconography and totemic animals with today’s different modern modes of technological communication.
About the McMichael
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Culture. It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of more than 5,500 artworks, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, First Nations, and Inuit artists.
The gallery is located on Islington Avenue, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in Kleinburg, and is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors/students and $30 for families. There is a $5 fee for parking. For more information about the gallery visit www.mcmichael.com.
YOU MUST RSVP PLEASE. Media contact:
Stephen Weir, Publicist
Gallery: 905.893.1121 ext. 2529
Toronto Office: 416.489.5868
Cell: 416.801.3101