Acclaimed Ojibway Artist IceBear Sees Solo Exhibition

Well known on the peninsula, artist IceBear’s latest exhibition is attracting attention across the island.

The Cowichan Public Art Gallery presents a major solo exhibition by the internationally acclaimed Ojibway artist, titled The Modern Age Dreams of a Dreamer, through August 20.

The exhibition aims to spark a conversation on universal themes around concern for the environment and climate change while creating a space for the public to explore and discuss the broader topic of reconciliation. IceBear’s art appeals to the imagination, and this exhibition features a fine selection of his paintings, sculptures and mixed media, both new and on loan from private collections.

Individuals can see different expressions of life in this exhibit. IceBear’s work explores natural, spiritual and animal themes, with the aim of sparking uninhibited conversations. Many ancient Ojibwa teachings revolve around the prophecies of the seven fires. The artist believes that these seven prophecies have come true, and we are now in what is called “the time of the eighth fire”, a choice between two paths.

IceBear explains, “None of the problems plaguing our society today will be solved if people stay safely on their side of the road without opening themselves up to the risky business of having meaningful conversations with those they perceive as different, or who are not one of us Truth and Reconciliation actually includes, and does require, truth, consequences, and acceptance of responsibility for the effects our actions have not only on other lives, but also on the environment as a whole.

“As an artist, I hope to encourage people to look, to see and to consider something outside of their normal milieu, perhaps outside of their comfort zone. And then to talk about it with those who come from a different and perhaps opposing perspective. Find common points of interest, talk about these points, share his own vision and discover that someone with whom he thought he shared nothing, in fact perceives certain things in the same way. This puts them on the same path together, even if only briefly. But it’s a start. And that is how reconciliation will happen. Quietly, gently, with conversation and understanding.

IceBear was born into the Ojibway community known as the Chippewas of Nawash on the Bruce Peninsula just north of Wiarton, Ontario. He was one of the children gathered in what came to be known as the Sixties Scoop. He was raised by the state but, by rare luck, found support for his art at the day school he attended. A nun who recognized his talent took up the challenge of having him undergo formal artistic training at a very young age. Then the first positive male role model in his life, a high school art teacher named Jim Henderson, hung out with a struggling young artist and set his feet on the path forward.

From his early strong graphic images with clear Indigenous roots to the wild abstracts that now fill the walls, his work over the years has explored multiple genres and themes, in two and three dimensions, governed only by the visions that fill his head. His work has been exhibited in France, Italy, Austria, New York, Dallas, Sacramento, Beijing, and Taiwan, and many places in between. Major public works of art can also be found in Sidney and Victoria.

The Portals Gallery will be open daily, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, visit icebearstudios.com.


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