Carl Beam: The New World

 

Gallery Gevik is pleased to present Carl Beam: The New World, a retrospective exhibition and the first in a commercial Toronto gallery in many years. Of Ojibwe heritage, Carl Migwans Beam (1943-2005) has exerted a strong influence on generations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists. His work survives as a milestone in the development of a unique and powerful voice within the context of the presence of Canada on the international art scene. This exhibition consists of five landmark works by Beam, incorporating signature imagery and techniques, as well as several works on plexiglass, ceramics and etchings, providing an unparalleled opportunity for collectors to own rare works that are almost now only found in museum collections. We'd like to extend special thanks to Anong Migwans Beam for her guidance and Virginia Eichhorn, Executive Director of Quest Art School and Gallery and former Chief Curator of the Tom Thomson Art Gallery for her illuminating curatorial essay.

sold
New Time, 1983
watercolour on paper, 30" x 40"
7 Plus 1, 1984
acrylic & photo emulsion on canvas, 108" x 84"
Deer Antlers & Stuffed Fish, 1983
mixed media collage on plywood, 43" x 56" x 15"
Anne Frank 1, 1984
acrylic & photo emulsion on canvas, 96" × 72"
sold
By Then Koan, 1985
photo transfer on Japanese paper, 38" × 25"
Untitled (Buffalo Shields), 1979
watercolour, 23" × 32"
sold
Voyage au bout de la nuit, c. 1989
plexiglass box construction with loon taxidermy, 84" x 48" x 12"
sold
Bashmi Cri, 1999
photo transfer & acrylic on canvas, 96" x 72"
View From Atlantis, 1992
watercolour on paper, 30" × 22"
100 Years Quantum Mysteries
mixed media on paper, 30" × 22"
Indian Residential Schools - Hostage #180
mixed media on paper, 30" x 22"
sold
Ojibwe Ancestors-2, 1999
mixed media on paper, 30" x 22"
Black Box Flight Recorder (No Exit), 1999
mixed media on paper, 30" x 22"
X-Ray Hand
mixed media on paper, 30" × 22"
Breakout (Me in Cape Cod), c. 1999
mixed media on paper, 30" x 22"
sold
Big Move, c. 2001
plexiglass & mixed media, 72" × 48"
sold
Summa, 2003
photo emulsion on canvas, 108" x 84"
sold
Paris
mixed media on paper, 60" x 40"
Two White Spaces
mixed media on paper, 30" × 22"
Sum (L)
photo transfer & acrylic on canvas, 38" x 48"
100 Years Mchigeeng
mixed media on paper, 30" × 22"
Neo-Glyphs-1, 1984
coloured etching, A/P, 32" × 48"
Take It or Leave It
mixed media on paper, 30" x 22"
sold
Straight Graphic Work - 1, 1980
mixed media on paper, 30" × 22"
Mountain Goats, 1982
clay earthenware, 14.25" × 4.75"
Mishibijiw - Underwater Panther, 1992
painted earthenware , 10" x 12.5"
Sitting Bull, 2004
glazed stoneware, 13" x 4.75"
Sitting Bull and the Pope, 2000
glazed stoneware, 16" (d)
At the Ocean, 2002
hand crafted stoneware, 14" x 4"
Shaman Family, 1986
painted earthenware, 14.25" x 5.25"
Various Concerns of the Artist, 1984
artist proof etching, 46" × 30"
Three Graveside Figures, 1984
artist proof etching, 46" × 30"
Untitled (Blur)
plexiglass photo transfer with graphite, 12" x 9"
Untitled (Joker & Pieta)
plexiglass photo transfer with graphite, 12" x 9"
Untitled (Hominy Dreams)
plexiglass photo transfer with graphite, 12" x 9"
Untitled (Crucifixion)
plexiglass photo transfer with graphite, 12" x 9"
Untitled (Joker & Tortoise)
plexiglass photo transfer with graphite, 12" x 9"
Untitled (Measurement)
plexiglass photo transfer with graphite, 12" x 9"
Untitled (Swine Crossing Corn)
plexiglass photo transfer with graphite, 12" x 9"
Untitled (Zones)
plexiglass photo transfer with graphite, 12" x 9"
sold
Read, 2001
photo emulsion on canvas, 43.75" x 32.25"
sold
Golden Age, 2002
photo emulsion & acrylic on canvas, 23.5" x 20.5"

The Columbus Suite, 1990

Columbus and Bees, 1990
etching on arches paper, 45.5" x 30"
Lincoln and Ravens, 1990
etching on arches paper, 45.5" x 30"
King and Kennedy, 1990
etching on arches paper, 45.5" x 30"
From Calvary to Cavalry, 1990
etching on arches paper, 45.5" x 30"
New World, 1990
etching on arches paper, 45.5" x 30"
Self Portrait as John Wayne, Probably, 1990
etching on arches paper, 45.5" x 30"
Semiotic Converts, 1990
etching on arches paper, 45.5" x 30"
Sitting Bull and Einstein, 1990
etching on arches paper, 45.5" x 30"
Sitting Bull and Whale, 1990
etching on arches paper, 45.5" x 30"
The Proper Way to Ride a Horse, 1990
etching on arches paper, 45.5" x 30"
The Unexplained, 1990
etching on arches paper, 45.5" x 30"
Various Ways to Travel in North America, 1990
etching on arches paper, 45.5" x 30"


Carl Beam was born in M’Chigeeng (West Bay) on Manitoulin Island. As a child he was sent to the Garnier Residential School in Spanish, an experience referenced in several works through inclusion of a class photo in which he outlined himself with red ink. Beam’s art studies were at the Kootenay School of Art, the University of Victoria and the University of Alberta. In 1986, the National Gallery of Canada was the first of the major Canadian galleries to recognize Beam’s work with the purchase of The North American Iceberg, the first work acquired from an Indigenous artist as a contemporary work of art rather than as an ethnographic piece. From 1983-1992 his work was included in all the landmark exhibitions that altered the segregation of Indigenous art in Canada.

Beam told stories with pictures. His works can be read as morality plays juxtaposing long held perceptions with challenging alternatives. His well-known images, a Pieta, an embryo, Abraham Lincoln, Sitting Bull, a crow, the Pinta and Maria, Einstein, along with images from his family history, were used as cultural markers overlaid with references to time and space. With a linear pattern or formal grid, he tried to visually create the fourth dimension in his work, a spiritual space inhabited by a defiant intellect. That he was an artist of Indigenous and settler heritage added to the scope of the complex subjects he chose. Through his provocative and unrelenting imagery, Beam grappled with some of life’s most difficult issues: questions of identity, prejudice, homelessness, hunger - and how do we choose to live a “good” life. For Beam, these issues were never isolated. Our everyday actions and decisions have profound implications and effects on the world we live in. Thus, his art, and his life, became challenges to the prevailing status quo, and rallying cries and exhortations that we CAN do better if we try.

Although he had formal art training, Beam also had a number of life experiences not specifically related to art-making. He culled images from his own life experience and frequently juxtaposed them with historical and contemporary images, thus relating the “personal” with the larger “societal” picture. Stylistically his technique is more connected to Rauschenberg than to the Woodlands or traditional Indigenous art styles.  His innovative techniques, in fact, have been emulated by a new generation of artists - Indigenous and not. Drawing inspiration from Anasazi and Mimbres cultures and techniques, Beam combined these with his own signature techniques creating a unique approach to ceramics as a means of contemporary art-making. In an artist statement in 2005 Beam wrote: "The hemispherical quality of a large bowl still excites me ... it is a universe unto itself, where anything can happen - the designs are limitless."

Carl Beam's paintings, etchings and constructions stand at the cutting edge of contemporary art and push insistently at its boundaries. In the 1990s Beam completed a self-portrait. It consisted of an image of a feather. His family’s Ojibwe name is Migwans which means “bird” or “feather”. Beneath the solitary feather he wrote: Carl Absolutely Nothing Migwans - a reference to the fact that the name “Beam” was an assigned one, with which there was no real connection. But in that he may have been incorrect. While it was not his family’s traditional name, “beam” can mean many things: something that provides support; something that shines brightly and illuminates things; a means of transmission for energy or information. In that, “Beam” is a fitting moniker. For he did all those things throughout his life. As an artist, and as a man.

Note: sold indicates the piece has been sold.

Daphne OdjigDaphne Odjig, Canadian Indigenous Artist and Icon Dies at 97. Click here for more details.

Odjig is frequently referred to as the "Grandmother of Indigenous Art." She has been the recipient of many awards, honours and recognitions for her works, to name a few: The Order of Canada, the Governor General's Award, and eight Honorary Doctorates. Her works have been shown in the National Gallery of Canada, The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Art Gallery of Ontario.


She established the first native-run fine art print house in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1971. Known as 'Odjig Indian Prints,' this print house was so successful that it evolved into an Indigenous gallery space in 1974, called the New Warehouse Gallery, run by Odjig and her husband, Chester Beavon. She was also a founding member of the Indian Group of Seven. This artistic group's purpose was to promote Contemporary Indigenous art and artists.

Alex JanvierAlex Janvier's major retrospective, "Alex Janvier: Modern Indigenous Master" is now open at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario until January 21st, 2018. Afterwards, it will travel to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton and the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.

This exhibition was recently on display at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa and the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina. Alex Janvier is one of Canada's most acclaimed contemporary artists. His career of sixty-five years has yielded thousands of paintings, and more than twenty-five murals and public commissions. (Photo credit: Kim Griffiths)

Rita Letendre

It is with profound sadness that Gallery Gevik announces the passing of our dear friend Rita Letendre, one of Canada’s most renowned, trailblazing artists. She passed away on November 20, 2021 after a long illness. She was 93 years old.