Glocalization, developing the NEO art industry, and the real world of art

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 11/14/2006 - 02:36.


Over the past few months, Phillip Williams and I have been working with one of the world's most important art galleries, Material Matters Contemporary Glass Gallery, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to develop their virtual community. The site has been up for about a month now, and has generated lots of global traffic (and congratulations to the gallery on that), and this weekend the site really paid off, as we can attribute a first major sale of art by Material Matters to the fact the new website exists - the buyers (from Cleveland, as a matter of fact), saw two major works by an amazing Canadian glass artist they otherwise would not know, and they bought his only available work I know of in the world. The Canadian glass artist made money, the gallery made money, Phillip and I made money, and the collectors in Cleveland got two amazing works of art (for a great price), shown in their new NEO home above. This is just a small beginning for Material Matters' virtual community, which already represents the greatest glass artists of Canada, as they are in the process of going glocal in many important ways, in the process improving Toronto's Glocal arts economy. NEO arts leadership may learn more here...

These collectors are not suddently converted into Canada-only glass collectors. They will buy another work from local glass artist Brent Young - they have one by him already and like his lampwork - but there is no intelligent way for them to buy his work locally (they could see and buy his work in Santa Fe, where he has competent representation, I suppose, but why pay $9,000 commission to a gallery in New Mexico for having the wisdom to promote a NEO artist there and online, when the collectors know and live a few miles from Brent).

These collectors would buy other local work online, if local arts worked onlne. But it does not. What is starting to work online is the virtual community we are creating for the arts industry in Toronto, because we use good technology there in innovative ways, and are working to market that. NEO needs to do the same, and we will help NEO. We have $20 million a year in fresh, good sin-tax funds and no good resaons to spend it on anything in particular - that is in fact a good starting point.

Imagine a world where every artist in NEO was provided with optimal technology, and some hand holding, and empowered to sell their art at the Glocal level. Imagine money spent on well represented art now sold from Toronto to Cleveland collectors instead staying in Cleveland. Imagine NEO competing in the glocal arts market with our NEO artists.

Cuyahoga County voters just agreed to give some people (no one knows who) $20 million a year to make art work in NEO. Here is one example of local entrepreneurs making art work in the Glocal economy in Canada, and we will be very vocal about how to make art work here.

BTW - the artist of these works is Kevin Lockau

I will point out that the artist of the works I mention here, Kevin Lockau, as with all Material Matters artists, is one of the most exceptional artists in the world, so it is not like there are comparable glass works available in anywhere else (althought there are equally exceptional glass artists in NEO). In the case of Kevin Lockau, one thing that made the collectors immediately buy these works was our website posted a current forum topic mentioning Kevin was just recognized as a semifinalist for the Governor General Saidye Bronfman Award, which is the highest arts award in Canada. Being able to make art real-time is critical - after the award was announced, other collectors started swarming Material Matters gallery looking for the scarce work of Kevin Lockau, so time became a factor - buy it or lose it. More about Kevin, who will have a show of a new series of work at Material Matters in 2007:

Canadian artist Kevin Lockau was named a finalists for the 30th annual Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in the Fine Crafts. The announcement was made by The Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation, in association with the Canada Council for the Arts and the Canadian Museum of Civilization — both partners in the Award.

The Saidye Bronfman Award is one of the largest individual visual arts prizes in Canada. In addition to the cash prize, works by the Award recipient are acquired by the Canadian Museum of Civilization for its permanent collection. In recent years, The Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation has contributed over $250,000 for the purchase of works by previous Award recipients. The Canadian Museum of Civilization's fine crafts collection is the largest public collection in Canada, with over 2,000 works by craftspeople from across the country.

Kevin Lockau, a leading innovator in hot glass casting techniques, lives and works north of Bancroft, Ontario. He is best known for his work and his role in the development of the glass studio at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. Always aware of the interactions of humans with nature, he often collects various sized stones from the shores of Lake Superior, carves them and combines them with glass to make his sculptural pieces. Lockau has received numerous international scholarships and awards, and he is a founding member of "10 North", a group of Canada's foremost glass artists. In 2003, Lockau founded the Stone Carving Symposium that takes place annually in Bancroft, Ontario. He was also a member of the advisory committee that set in motion a new glassblowing program at Fleming College's Haliburton School of the Arts. He has exhibited his work across Canada and in the United States, France, Finland, Germany and Sweden.

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Fascinating stories of these Lockau works

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Here is a narrative description of the story of these works, from First Nations Shaman Dan Whetung. Kevin grew up among the natives and knew the native legends and got interested in presenting them in his work.

Coyote: “Longing and belonging” - granite and sandcast glass (on left)

Kevin does lots of camping and picked up the granite on a comping trip and lugged it around Northern Canada for a month. The glass is sand cast.

“Longing and belonging” is based on a native legend that has been around since we don't know. At the beginning of all things the creator created two beings – two legged man and four legged coyote – the coyote was the first brother of man and they walked the earth as brothers, speaking the same language. After an unmeasurable length of time the Coyote got lonesome for more company, other than this man, and having been endowed with supernatural powers of life – being a Shaman – Coyote took on the body of the Loon, but kept his head to keep his own mind. While in that form he started creating other lifeforms – the Coyote created all the lifeforms of the animal kingdom. All of the sudden the world was filled with other lifeforms and the Creator became curious what had happened and found out the Coyote created all the animals and the Creator told the Coyote he was now in charge of keeping the balance of all these animals – which is why the dog and Coyote herd other animals, etc. The creator also took away the Coyote's magical power and said man and Coyote must walk different paths – they cannot have ceremonies together, but the dog may be part of other ceremonies (Feast of the White Dog) and the Creator said to the man that so you don't get any of these crazy ideas I will create the woman to keep an eye on man, and the Creator asked the woman to take the huge responsibility to be in charge of creating the next generations of the two-leggeds. So the woman is as close to the creator as anyone can be, because she accepted that responsibility. She was given the ability to decide whether or not to exercise that responsibility – during her moon time when she has not exercised her responsibility then it shows she has not but shows she is one who has accepted that responsibility – she is housecleaning because she is not growing new life inside her.

In the sculpture we see the moment of the creation of the other animals. The Coyote is holding the bear, which he has already created, and he is giving birth to the dog. The Coyote was “longing” for friends different than man, and the animals “belong” to the Coyote... hence the title of the work, “Longing and belonging”.

“Dual Nature” is the last of a series of work based on medicine legends.

It is sandcast glass, wood, goldleaf, stone and pigment. “Dual Nature” was Kevin's favorite in the series and he wasn't going to sell it at all, but Material Matters Gallery owner Lisa Wuohela convinced Kevin to release it for the show she sponsored in Cleveland (the work was featured in the very positive review of the show in the Cleveland Plain Dealer).

“Dual Nature” is from what Kevin called the Totem Series – the last of five, made in 1996. “Dual Nature” refers to the “Wenndee-ggo-kaun”, which is an “Annishnabi” spoken word for a very unique dual natured medicine person – they are similar to but different from the Sioux Kayokha in that when they are in their full doctoring mode they are the reversed and when they're not doing ceremonies of doctoring they are straight. When they are reversed what they say is the opposite of the understanding – for example, “go away” means “I love you very much and I hate to see you leave and return soon in good health” – reverse psychology – the regalia they wear is made up of sticks and holes as is represented in “Dual Nature”. There are only a few such medicine men in existence.

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