PANELS OF THE NORTHWEST COAST

Our August newsletter focuses on the development of panels as a style of Northwest Coast Art. Panels can be bold, striking, and monumental like totem poles with a depth of carving that draws awe and stimulates conversation. Like paintings and bentwood boxes panel artwork allows an artist to articulate crests and stories into defined spaces, whether round or rectangular. Most panels are still carved from red or yellow cedar but there is a growing movement towards the use of forton, glass, and other new media. Whatever the case may be, panels are an art form that is distinctly Northwest Coast.

 

HISTORIC BEGINNINGS 

Surfaces have been carved and painted on the Northwest Coast for hundreds of years. In the early historic era ethnographers documented screens, longhouse fronts, and boxes that were carved and painted. These can be seen as the historic basis for carved panels.

Many artists began carving panels as they were inspired not from historic works, but from analogy to carved doors or other natural creative links. Doug remembers Carrier artist Larry Rosso carving one of the first round panels Doug had ever seen, back in the 80s. Larry Rosso said at the time that his inspiration for carving a round panel was that he wanted to create a large work in wood that resembled the designs on rawhide drums. This was 40 years ago when the Northwest Coast art market was focused largely on masks, drums and button blankets, with panels playing a lesser role.

FEATURED ARTWORK 

A Second Look at Asymmetry
Robert Davidson (Haida)
Red Cedar, Acrylic
60″ L x 35″ W x 2″ D
$100,000 CAD / $77,520 USD

This abstract formline panel is simple, refined and balanced. It is free from crests and figures and your eye is drawn to the details and finesse of the carving. Robert Davidson’s skill is represented in his seamless execution of three angles of carving: perpendicular (the relief on the red edges), undercutting (the contact of the red edges with the background) and sloped (blue edges). The design of this panel, like his more recent paintings, follow this exploration into abstraction.

…innovation comes from a great depth of knowledge. So I feel that in order for me to do what I am doing today, I needed to go through all that studying the old masters…Through all that practicing I feel very comfortable in the direction that I am going in because I feel that I have really studied the old masters. – Robert Davidson, May 2015

 

YELLOW and RED CEDAR

Killer Whale Panel
Don Yeomans (Haida)
Yellow Cedar
36” diam x 2″ D
$12,000 CAD / $9,302 USD

 

Wolf Panel
Alano Edzerza (Tahltan)
Red Cedar
56″ diam x 2″ D
$20,000 CAD / $15,504 USD

 

Embryonic Eagle
Robert Mills (Tlingit)
Red Cedar
36” diam
$8,500 CAD / $6,589 USD

Eagle and Butterfly Panel
Roger Smith (Haida)
Yellow Cedar, Acrylic
35″ diam x 1¾” D
$5,200 CAD / $4,031 USD

An unpainted panel draws attention to the lines of a carving and the methods used to create each crest. Like silver and gold bracelets, carving an unpainted panel leaves artists to use the angle of the cuts of the wood to create the formline design rather than the use of paint. All crest designs will be composed of uncarved surfaces and carved depressions acting in tandem. Some artists will incorporate deep gouging to border their figures (Wolf Panel, above), while other artists incorporate stippling to add another “colour” or textual component to a panel (Killer Whale Panel, above).

Raven Moon Panel
Jim Charlie (Salish)
Red Cedar, Acrylic
33″ diam x 1½” D
$3,800 CAD / $2,946 USD

Thunderbird Panel
Jim Charlie (Salish)
Red Cedar, Acrylic
33″ diam x 1¾” D
$3,800 CAD / $2,946 USD

PERSPECTIVE 

This image is of the modern constructed village at K’san. The painted surface is an artwork in its own right but the monumental scale of these house fronts allows the art to become the background for daily life. Superimposing images onto backgrounds can be seen in some panels to create an element of perspective.

Sisiutl Panel
Rande Cook (Kwakwaka’wakw)
Red Cedar
75″ W x 52″ H x 2″ D
$18,000 CAD / $13,954 USD

Spirit Bear Family
Bradley Hunt (Heiltsuk)
Red Cedar, Copper, Acrylic
32″ H x 48″ W x 2″ D
$15,000 CAD / $11,628 USD

Wasco Panel
Doug Zilkie (Non-Indigenous)
Red Cedar, Acrylic
57″ H x 48″ W x 2″ D
$9,000 CAD / $6,977 USD

Held in Mindfulness
Terry Jackson (Metis)
Red Cedar, Acrylic
34″ H x 26″ W x 2″ D
$4,500 CAD / $3,488 USD

Forton

Forton is a resin metal composite that is increasingly being used in the art world as an alternative to bronze to create cast editions. For panels and other large scale works especially, forton offers artists the ability to create editions that can hold a patina, like bronze or steel, but with a fraction of the cost and a substantial reduction in the weight.

Sea Bear
Don Yeomans (Haida)
Cast Forton, Pewter Patina
78″ diam x 16″ D
$65,000 CAD / $50,388 USD

Octopus and Killer Whale
Don Yeomans (Haida)
Cast Forton, Pewter patina
36″ diam x 2″ W
$10,000 CAD / $7,752 USD

Seal & Salmon
Phil Gray (Tsimshian)
Cast Forton, Marble patina
36” diam x 1½” D
$8,500 CAD / $6,589 USD

Raven and First Men
Ben Davidson (Haida)
Cast Forton, Rust patina
48″ diam
$25,000 CAD / $19,380 USD

Wolf Panel
Alano Edzerza (Tahltan)
Forton, Pewter patina
55″ diam x 1¾” D
$16,000 CAD / $12,403 USD

Panels Under $1000

To compete against the price of framed prints many artists are creating panels and often framing them. These are original art pieces but priced similar to many smaller prints.

Thunderbird Panel
Jazmine McCrimmon-Cook (Kwakwaka’wakw)
Red Cedar, Acrylic
12″ diam x 1½” D
$500 CAD / $388 USD

Thunderbird Panel
Jazmine McCrimmon-Cook (Kwakwaka’wakw)
Red Cedar, Acrylic
24″ diam x 1½” D
$800 CAD / $620 USD

Raven Panel
Jim Charlie (Salish)
Yellow Cedar, Acrylic
17″ L x 10″ W x 1½” D
$650 CAD / $504 USD

Raven Panel
Jim Charlie (Salish)
Yellow Cedar, Acrylic
18½” L x 13″ W x 1½” D
$750 CAD / $581 USD

Raven and the Light Panel
Cecilia Adams-Dangeli (Gitxsan)
Yellow Cedar, Acrylic
17½” L x 11″ W x 2″ D
$550 CAD / $426 USD

Speaking With Someone
Blake Lepine (Tlingit)
Laminate Flooring, Acrylic, Akoya
15″ H x 18″ W x 1½” D
$750 CAD / $581 USD

Killer Whale Panel
Jim Charlie (Salish)
Yellow Cedar, Acrylic
22″ L x 12½” W x 1½” D
$850 CAD / $659 USD

Eagle Panel
Jim Charlie (Salish)
Yellow Cedar & Acrylic
23″ W x 10½” H x 2″ D
$900 CAD / $698 USD

Salmon Panel
Jim Charlie (Salish)
Yellow Cedar, Acrylic
24″ L x 7½” W
$650 CAD / $504 USD

Mouse Woman Panel
Jim Charlie (Salish)
Yellow Cedar, Acrylic
24″ L x 10″ W
$750 CAD / $581 USD