Artist Carl Gawboy is showing brand new work in Duluth. The art exhibit, “New Paintings, Old Stories,” features Anishinaabe and Finnish culture, landscapes, and teachings. The exhibit is located at the Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center and was curated by Wendy Savage.
Artist Carl Gawboy is featuring brand new work in Duluth.
“New Paintings, Old Stories,” art exhibit features Anishinaabe and Finnish culture, landscapes and teachings. Wendy Savage curated the exhibit.
Here’s reporter Leah Lemm with more.
Reporter: Carl Gawboy’s works have appeared in over 75 exhibits. Some of his works live in permanent collections, including the Minnesota Historical Society, Department of Interior, and Indian Arts and Crafts Board.
Carl Gawboy is from the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe and is of Finnish descent.
Carl Gawboy: I’m Carl Gawboy. I’m a retired teacher and I’m from Ely originally.
Reporter: Outside the American Indian Community Housing Organization in Duluth is a billboard with the latest Carl Gawboy art exhibit. To one side features a photo of the artist, the other side shows watercolor painting “Vainomoinen and Nanaboozhoo.” These are the names of two beings from Finnish and Ojibwe tales, though…
The painting depicts two men around a campfire, a tent among tall trees. An ax to the side and a fish ready to eat in the foreground. You can almost hear the crackle of fire. They are fishing buddies.
Scenes like this is what Carl Gawboy is known for, showing how people lived their lives in their time.
Carl Gawboy: I just looked around and saw other Indian artists weren’t showing the mundane acts of everyday life in the past that I was really interested in. So that’s the art of the everyday. The new work that I did since 2021 is back to my art of the everyday.
Reporter: There are over 30 pieces on display and many of them are new.
Carl Gawboy: So all the 15 of these are new. (Wow.) And the other half of the gallery are some older things, some illustrations that I did to ex uh, for, uh, publication, a couple prince clay prince of works I had done earlier. So, so it, it’s a pretty good show showing the older work and the brand new work.
Reporter: Carl Gawboy has explored other styles and
Carl Gawboy: Well, the new work that I did since 2021 is back to my art of the everyday. So I’ve got men planting trees in the 1930s with an organization called the Indian CCS, the civilian conservation Corps that was started up in during the depression to give, uh, unemployed people work.
There’s uh, uh, couple of scenes from homesteaders, uh, separating milk and plowing new ground for a homestead scene. Uh, you have an old man with his tobacco drawing in a shed, two paintings of guides, one of, uh, guides flying fish for his clients…
Reporter: Wendy Savage curated the exhibit.
Wendy Savage: I’m Wendy Savage and I’m an enrolled member at the fond du lac reservation and I’m also an artist and a curator.
Reporter: Carl Gawboy has been a mentor to Wendy Savage and she considers him a National treasure.
Wendy Savage: I was lucky enough to meet Carl back in the eighties. And Carl invited me to come on with a group with him and George Morrison and Bonnie Wallace and Kent Smith to be part of the Ojibwe art expo.
And so I did for like 17 years with him. And then I was fortunate enough to have him also as a teacher of mine.
Reporter: Carl Gawboy being a National Treasure extends beyond his prolific artistry. His influence on and support of other artists has rippled throughout the art world.
Wendy Savage: He’s been a great influence. He’s been like a mentor to me he has also always encouraged me in all of my artwork because back in the seventies and the eighties, there wasn’t a place for native American art and most galleries were shunning it, especially in this area because it wasn’t considered fine art.
So many galleries like, uh, even in my senior show of my BFA, they’d, didn’t want to show a fully Beed cradleboard because it wasn’t fine art. But when I would show my work to Carl, Carl was always encouraging.
Reporter: Wendy writes in her curator’s statement that “Carl is a true historian… Within these new painting[s] we are getting an intimate view into Carl’s world he grew up in.”
The exhibit, “New Paintings, Old Stories,” is on display every Friday through May 27th.
More information on the American Indian Community Housing Organization website AICHO DOT ORG.
Leah Lemm reporting for Minnesota Native News
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