The rich artistic legacy of Canada’s indigenous peoples dates back many centuries. Today, works by Aboriginal artists are some of the most celebrated and sought-after in the country, and many can be viewed and purchased at commercial galleries in Toronto.
ICONIC INUIT ART
Some of Canada’s most prolific arts communities are found in the Arctic territories, where Inuit artists create striking stone sculptures, vibrant prints and much more.
Arctic Nunavut is the retail outlet of the Nunavut Development Corporation, which represents artists and businesses in seven Arctic communities. Besides stone carvings, find traditional and northern-themed clothing, jewellery, books, dolls and stuffed animals.
In the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Balzac Fine Arts specializes in contemporary and historical Canadian art, as well as sculptures from Inuit communities in Nunavut, Baffin Island and the Northwest Territories.
In business for more than 25 years, Eskimo Art Gallery stocks more than 1,000 carvings, including many by award-winning sculptor Ohito Ashoona. Baffin Island communities such as Cape Dorset are featured, but all areas of the Arctic are represented.
The upscale Yorkville gallery Feheley Fine Arts displays some of the most acclaimed Inuit sculptural and graphic works. Past exhibitions have featured works by innovative artists like Isaci Etidloie and 2006 Sobey Art Award winner Annie Pootoogook.
Northeast of downtown Toronto, Gallery Phillip exhibits sculptures by the likes of Toonoo Sharky and Mattiusi Iyaituk, plus graphic works by Pitseolak Ashoona, Kenojuak Ashevak and many more. The venue also exhibits art by Six Nations, Woodland Indian and West Coast Aboriginal artists.
The venerable Guild Shop began selling Inuit carvings in the 1950s, and has a large and varied selection of Inuit and First Nations art. It’s one of a select number of galleries that showcases the annual Cape Dorset and Pangnirtung print collections.
Owned and operated by former teachers in Nunavut, Harris Inuit Gallery represents the work of artists from more than 25 northern communities. It displays and sells sculptures that adhere to prices established by the Inuit co-operative system.
More than 400 Inuit carvings are available at Native Stone Art, but interested collectors will also appreciate a large selection of Mohawk carvings, as well as clothing and jewellery from other Aboriginal groups.FIRST NATIONS FAVOURITES
The Inuit are just one of the many indigenous groups that comprise Canada’s First Peoples. From British Columbia’s Nisga’a to the Mi’kmaq in the Atlantic provinces, First Nations art can be found in Toronto at a number of fine galleries.
Pacific Coast art is the priority at Bay of Spirits, with totem poles, masks, sculptures, prints and more from the Haida, Coast Salish and Tsimshian tribes, among others. Fine art and crafts from Inuit, Cree, Mi’kmaq and other artists are also available.
Established in 1966, Yorkville’s Beckett Fine Art displays First Nations art—particularly works from the estate of Arthur Shilling. The gallery also represents non-Aboriginal artists from Canada, the United States, Britain and Japan.
Though Canadian historical and contemporary art is the main focus at Kinsman Robinson Galleries, it also represents the works of renowned contemporary First Nations artists Norval Morrisseau and Robert Davidson.
Native art is well represented at Maslak McLeod Gallery, which features classic, contemporary and historical fine art, sculptures and paintings by the Woodland, Haida, Inuit, Maritime and Plains peoples. Its considerable roster of artists includes Roy Thomas, David Ruben Piqtoukun and Goyce Kakegamic.TIP! In the market for an Inuit carving? Ensure that it’s authentic: shop at reputable galleries and look for the “igloo tag,” a governmental certification.
WEB EXCLUSIVE! For more multicultural offerings, check out 5 Indigenous Shops.—Craig Moy