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Arrowmakers open gallery

Adam Johnson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 17/06) - A Yellowknife art gallery got a facelift last week to honour a friend and teacher in the Northern aboriginal arts community.

Last Wednesday, representatives of Northern arts, culture, commerce and media gathered in Centre Square Mall to launch Arrowmakers Fine Traditional Art Gallery and to acknowledge its namesake: the late Tlicho chief and elder Alexis Arrowmaker.

"Alexis has always been a great friend of mine," said Rae artist Archie Beaulieu, speaking Dogrib to the audience through a translator, because Alexi told him to "come forward and speak your language."

He said he was happy to see the name change going through.

For the last four years, the gallery, which was once known as Nor Art, has been wholly owned by the Denedeh Development Corporation. According to organizers, the name change has been a long time coming.

"Alexis Arrowmaker has been an inspiration to a lot of people," said general manager Cynthia Cardinal-James.

"We thought it would be a fitting tribute."

Along with the name change, Cardinal-James said the gallery was moving more towards traditional art work from Dene and Inuit artists. These feature sculptures by Bill and Eli Nasogaluak and John Sabourin, as well as paintings by John Rombough and Archie Beaulieu.

"He was a teacher," Beaulieu said of Arrowmaker. "He told me to carry on, don't stop."

"In my heart, I was so happy it was named after him."

Beaulieu said he was indeed carrying on, working on pieces for Northern galleries, as well as thinking about a piece he wants to get down to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics.

"It's a mixed painting of all sorts of wildlife and culture," he said.

"We are Dene from the NWT, we want to put them on the map." "I think it's a good idea," Yellowknife artist John Sabourin said.

"It's a chance to promote Northern aboriginal artists."

Sabourin is busy as well, working on a chlorite piece for the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse.

"It's two ravens coming out of the top, fighting over a raven necklace.

It's a power symbol," he said.

Before that, he will be teaming up with Eli Nasogaluak and Randy Sibbeston to represent the NWT at the snow sculpture competition during the Winterlude festival in Ottawa.

"We're in the design stage right now," he said.