Beau Dick (1955-2017)PastMasters
Beau Dick, ‘Walas G̱wa̱’ya̱m, was born in the southern Kwakwaka’wakw village of Kingcome Inlet (Gwa’yi). While attending school in Vancouver, he became interested in painting, subsequently producing several large canvasses in a naturalistic style depicting southern Kwakwaka’wakw mythological figures and ceremonial dancers. He studied Northwest Coast Design and Sculpture with Doug Cranmer and Henry Hunt, two of the foremost Kwakwaka’wakw artists of the 20th century.
One of the Northwest Coast’s most versatile[showhide type=”post” more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”]
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[/showhide] and talented carvers, Beau Dick is widely acclaimed for his strong carving abilities and for the powerful quality of his masks. Untill the time of his death in 2017 Beau was an educator and a cultural leader. His masks were almost always used in ceremony. His work is more than just art, they are cultural tools which are used to uphold the traditions of the rich and vibrant trditions of his ancestors
He had carved a number of refined masks in various tribal styles, often basing them on illustrations of old specimens in museums. He did not limit his work to the styles of his own Kwakwaka’wakw culture. He has mastered the styles of other tribal nations, and has also ventured into contemporary art in paintings which draw on European influence, but continue to tell the powerful stories of his own culture. His distinctive style can be categorized as a balance between a powerful and theatrical Kwakwaka’wakw style of carving, with painting that blends traditional formline design and a finger-rubbed finish.
Below are some prime examples of Beau’s work which we had the privilege of having in our collection for a time.
DZUNUK’WA TRANSFORMATION MASK
Red Cedar Wood, Abalone, Horse Hair, Acrylic Paint
CRYING BABY MASK
Red Cedar wood, Copper, Horse hair, Acrylic paint
Red Cedar wood, Cedar bark, Feathers, Horse hair, Acrylic paint
Beau had been a part of many group and solo exhibitions and he is highly regarded for creating traditional ceremonial masks replicated by few artists today. In 1986, Beau completed a transformation mask in Vancouver for Expo, which is currently on display in the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The same year, he completed a totem pole for Stanley Park in Vancouver. His work can also be found in the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.
TRANSFORMATION MASK – Canadian Museum of Civilization, Quebec
Cedar wood, Acrylic paint
TOTEM – Stanley Park
Red Cedar wood, Acrylic paint
PUPPET – Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver
Red Cedar, Acrylic paint, Horse hair
Beau Dick has established himself as an accomplished carver, storyteller and educator. He apprenticed many young carvers, thus passing on the skills and knowledge he inherited from his father, Francis Dick. At the time of his death he resided in Kingcome Village where he gained a great deal of inspiration from his ancestors.
A year after his death The Audain gallery in Whistler help an exhibition of Beaus life work. Some of the pieces from this exhibition are seen here.
Red Cedar wood, Acrylic paint, Horse hair, Feathers, Faux fur
Red Cedar wood, Horse hair, Copper, Nylon, Cotton strap, Wool, Mica, Acrylic paint
Red Cedar wood, Cedar Bark, Copper, Acrylic hair, Acrylic paint