INDIGENOUS PEOPLE ART
THE FIRST PEOPLE OF THE WORLD
YGARTUA THE BASQUES HISTORICAL ORIGINS & INDIGENOUS ROOTS
“It is a lifelong study, recording The First People of the World, and it is particularly unique to be part of such an ancient ancestry.”
It is not surprising that Ygartua takes an interest in the First People of the World as he himself does come from an Indigenous Group of People -THE BASQUES from Northern Spain, The Basque Country.
Ygartua, IN THE LAST 50 YEARS, has probably created the most significant, important recordings of the First People of the World of the 20th and 21st century. A series of paintings of the Indigenous People of the World – the West Coast Natives along with their extraordinary work have been the most predominant and of equal importance, the Africans, the Mexican Natives-the Incas and Mayans, the Peruvian Natives, the N.A. & S.A. Natives. the Basque People, India and the Semitic Peoples of ancient Southwestern Asia.
“Over the years it really seems that a guiding hand is directing me to create a tableau, a record of character portraying the Nomadic People of the World”
Paul inspires adulation from his Collectors and admirers including Edward Curtis’s daughter who visited us in Scottsdale, Arizona in 1978 — ecstatic about his renderings of Curtis’s exceptional photographic collection of the NA Natives which Paul used as subject matter over many years–from 1970 until present day.
Curitis’s daughter was particularly elated that her Father’s work would also continue on through Paul in a larger format and adorn the walls of patrons all over the world–bringing an awareness about and appreciation, encouraging the education of informing the public the importance and value of our natives and their folkloric customs.
Edward Sheriff Curtis, (born February 16, 1868, near Whitewater, Wisconsin, U.S.—died October 19, 1952, Los Angeles, California), American photographer and chronicler of Native American peoples whose work perpetuated an influential image of Indians as a “vanishing race.”
The North American Indian was perhaps the most ambitious publication ever undertaken by a single man, and it was widely hailed as a landmark in American publishing history. In 1911, the New York Herald said that it was the most gigantic undertaking since the publication of the King James Edition of the Bible.
Taken as a whole, the work of Edward Curtis is a singular achievement. Never before have we seen the Indians of North America so close to the origins of their humanity, their sense of themselves in the world, their innate dignity and self-possession. These photographs comprehend more than an aboriginal culture, more than a prehistoric past — more, even, than a venture into a world of incomparable beauty and nobility. Curtis’s photographs comprehend indispensable images of every human being at every time in every place. In the focus upon the landscape of the continent and its indigenous people, a Curtis photograph becomes universal…. N.Scott Momaday
It seems that there is a force, a guiding hand that is instrumental in his search for subject matter (since 1970), that inspires, influences and motivates Ygartua in this direction–it is interminable. He does enjoy many different subjects, mediums and styles but it seems like he has never been far from his Basque Roots — and his Native Heritage Series– it is like an endless circle, always arriving back to his beginnings.
In recording their history through the Indomitable Face and their monumental totems and sculptures, he always gives homage to The First People of the World, their ancestry, their early beginnings, their connection with the past and always with a message , it is unspoken, but it is understood in their work.
I believe like the natives, who pass on the stories from their elders, that this is all vital to our very existence.
We are influenced by everything around us, the people we meet, the upbringing we have had and by embracing our individual core values–our fundamental beliefs, our guiding principles, we will be energized and inspired to follow our heart and intuition allowing us to continue on our chosen journey.
Ygartua’s Basque connection has given him a profound understanding of the importance of the preservation of your heritage and this has been prevalent in his Native Heritage series that started at the beginning of his profession as an artist (from–1970 until present day)
He has researched the First People from the beginning of time– the ancient civilizations, the remnants of their civilization, their art, their extraordinary statues to the Gods of their day. There are so many unanswered questions and as he continues on this path with intrigue and with an alluring fascination of the unknown, his unrelenting curiosity and fervent passionate interest comes from his very own existence and inheritance–his Basque Heritage.
Possibly the First People of the World were blessed with a deeper, more important understanding of Mother Earth. Paul refers to them as The People from another World, they were put here to lead the way, but unfortunately, they were not prepared for greed and the wars that have been going on since the beginning of time. They do have a voice, but we are not listening, and it shows up in all their art, their culture- trying to speak up, but nobody listens, we are too busy trying to accumulate more things, things of no importance, and at the same time we are ignoring the warnings of our planet, the animals, the air we breathe. We did have time, but it is getting scarce– it is now upon us and we can still save the planet but we must reach deep within, we must take time to understand, to listen, to respect the messages from our First People of the World– who are right in front of us. — HONOURING EARTH. WORKING WITH HER, NOT DESTROYING HER. — SHE IS OUR CREATOR.
“We will always be here to stand up. We will always be the voice that no one else wants to say . . . that’s who we are as the Indigenous people and the protectors here.” Hanford McCloud (Nisqually), Council Member and Co-Host of the 2018 Protecting Mother Earth Conference… Alexis Bunten
“We have to recognize the huge value of arts and culture to society. Public and Private investments in the arts are for the inherent value of culture: life-enhancing, entertaining, defining our personal and national identity.” Sir Peter Bazalgette
It is essential for society to recognize the value of the arts, it is part of who we are, as it was for the Neaderthal Man, they left their cave paintings for a reason–we can learn from our past.
The Native ways and their beliefs were always a part of my life growing up in Canada. However, not every Canadian is as lucky as I was to have been introduced to their importance. Now more than ever, their belief that we should respect the Earth and worship it, is one that we need to fight for, for today and for tomorrow’s generations. One Native man who greatly helped further the understanding of the First Nations in Canada was Chief Dan George. Paul and Joanne Ygartua were extremely honoured to have known Chief Dan George and to have developed a lifelong relationship with his son Chief Leonard George and wife Susan George. My husband, Mathieu and I were truly honoured to have had Chief Leonard George and Susan George at our wedding in 2006 in Vancouver, during which he performed a beautiful Native chant and wedding blessing. (Tala Nicole Maillot Ygartua)
Here is the story of Canadian artist Paul Ygartua and the wonderful actor, writer, activist, Chief Dan George from North Vancouver.
Paul said to Chief Dan George that he would like to give him a gift and asked him to choose his favourite painting. He chose the most modern, unique painting of the show, GERONIMO, which I imagine was also one of his heroes. Geronimo (1829-1909) was an Apache leader and medicine man famous for his fearlessness in resisting anyone who attempted to remove his people from their tribal lands.
“During a recent ceremony at SFU’s Diamond University Centre, Chief Leah George, Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, and John Waterhouse, VP-academic ratified a community partnership agreement to support the development of the Chief Dan George centre for advanced education in downtown Vancouver. The centre will offer programs incorporating First Nations content and perspective. To mark the signing the George family presented a portrait of the actor Dan George to the university. Leah George (left), John Waterhouse and Chief Leonard George admire the work of noted Canadian Artist, Paul Ygartua
The Power of Creation–the challenge is to influence your viewer–to enable others to experience the same emotions, the same high the artist experiences through the energy expressed at the moment of creation. Being on the edge–Originality, spontaneity, freedom of expression. I like to approach the wall as if it were a large canvas—it is more interesting and more original to not use a projected image, more of a fascination, more of a challenge—who wants it to be easy? I want to experience the energy, the high of the challenge, your brain has to be alert, concentration is at a peak at all times, you feel connected. I find this to be thrilling, exciting and more original and the end result is much more satisfying.
MURALS –create a completely different challenge and a real physical workout. Working on large canvases or a large wall gives a much more vast appearance of space to expand a visual impact from many yards away, allowing viewing from a distance and visualizing a finished product.Every artist aspires to painting majestic canvases and no better is that achieved than painting wall murals. Most of the walls I have painted range in size from 30 x 50 to 25 x 300 feet. The challenge is creating the composition in the right proportions at such a large scale. This is approached with a vision of the wall finished before you start. You need to see it in your mind’s eye just to get the perspective, balance and correct proportions. You must always take on the opportunity of working without a projector, in this manner the freedom of the hand will often bring that third dimension that you have always been trying to achieve. It is only then when you will actually envision the subject matter on the wall.
HEILTSUK NATION BELLA BELLA
Paul Ygartua has been recognized and honored as The Mural Miracle Maker by Pauline Hilistis Waterfall and the Hereditary Chiefs of the Heiltsuk Nation, Bella Bella, B.C., Canada.
HEILTSUK TERRITORY encompasses 16, 658 square kilometres of land as well as extensive nearshore and offshore waters in an area that has only recently come to be known as the Central Coast of BC. Our territorial boundaries are defined by six Heiltsuk tribal groups and extend out into national waters. According to our nuyem or oral tradition, we have had a relationship with these rich and productive lands and waters for countless generations.
The Mural, United in History, represents the Heiltsuk Nation and the individuals who made a significant contribution to the founding of the Bella Bella area since the Hudson Bay Co. established Fort McLoughlin in 1833. Commissioned by Craig Widsten, Shearwater Resort & Marina, Denny Island, Canada. United in History, a 22’x120’ fresco, commemorates the history of Bella Bella, B.C. The Heiltsuk Nation, Bella, Bella, the first inhabitants of this area and the individuals that were part of the historic development of the greater Bella Bella Community from 1930 to 1980.
THE MURAL UNVEILING ENTITLED – BELLA BELLA – UNITED IN HISTORY CELEBRATING THE FOUNDING OF BELLA BELLA, JULY 6, 2013
“It has been an honor for me, to paint the extraordinary people of the ancient civilization of the Heiltsuk Nation (with historical records going back some 9,500 years) My Basque Heritage, the oldest race of Europe and my interest in the First People of the World and the preservation of all ancient cultures, gives me great pride to be part of the enrichment and presentation of the legacy that contributes to the rich cultural heritage of Bella Bella.”.
Hilistis ‘Pauline’ Waterfall, an advocate for access to education for all First Nations people, 2010 Order of BC recipient, educator, founding member of the Indigenous Adult & Higher Learning Association, proud ambassador, member, and “Keeper of the Knowledge” of the Heiltsuk Nation, and instrumental part of making this day possible
During her introduction of the artist she said “What endeared me most was Paul’s openness to culture, his openness to learning and his willingness to capture the spirit and essence of our ancestors. In the old days, our people believed that if you could capture the spirit of someone in a photograph, or a painting, then it was an eternal treasure that kept us connected to them. When he started, he felt the ancestral and spiritual energy. I call him, my ‘Mural Miracle Maker’ — Hilistis ‘Pauline’ Waterfall
Duka’aisla William Housty – Heiltsuk Nation, acknowledged and thanked Ygartua for the deep respect he showed when dealing with their ancestors. He presented Ygartua with the Beaded Eagle Feather “Which represents the strength, unity, and power that comes from the wings of the Great Eagle — It comes from all of our people.
Paul was humbled and honoured by the Eagle Feather gifted to him by the Heiltsuk Nation, on Saturday, July 6, 2013. Understanding the symbolism of the Eagle Feather it will be treasured with deep appreciation and affection. The feather is a powerful symbol that signifies honour and a connection between the owner, the Creator, and the bird from which the feather came. It symbolizes trust, honor, strength, wisdom, power and freedom being deeply revered and a sign of high honor.
Paul Ygartua and his wife Joan exchanged an emotional hug with an equally emotional Hilistis. Of the mural, “I came thinking I was painting the wall of a fishing lodge, this has turned into a mammoth project!” “We’ve created something that I never thought in my lifetime that I could feel a part of for the rest of my life. It became a community project of research, and of finding the right faces and stories. Can you imagine (the difficulty) in finding the right faces, headgear and robes? Not to mention putting them on faces that never ever wore those because it was illegal, so were potlatches, and so many customs and traditions. So we had to research the backgrounds of each individual Chief. It became an immense project, and my involvement became more about looking into the history, culture, and traditions of the Heiltsuk People. This was all before I could even begin painting! I became a part of it like I never believed I could with a mural. It will remain with me for the rest of my life. It was a very dramatic emotional experience for everyone involved. It was like a spiritual rebirth and I will never forget it.” Of the day’s ceremonies Ygartua said “Today reminds me of my family’s Basque fiestas in the northern Spanish countryside; we all get together, we have a party, and there are no strangers. To me there is nothing better than being here today”
BELLA BELLA POTLATCH MAY 21, 2013
SHEARWATER PRESENTATION AT BELLA BELLA POTLATCH HOSTED BY FRANK BROWN, MAY 21, 2013
Shearwater Presentation at Bella Bella Potlatch hosted by Frank Brown, May 21, 2013
Paintings at the Potlatch — The Original Founding Chiefs of the Heiltsuk Nation
Chief Moody Humchitt (1896-1949)
Chief Harry Humchitt (1865-1925)
Chief Bob Humchitt (1865-1937)
Chief Albert Humchitt (1885-1946)
Paul Ygartua was commissioned to paint the four Hereditary Chiefs of the Heiltsuk Nation (by Craig Widsten, Shearwater) which now hang in The Heiltsuk Centre, Bella Bella.
UNVEILING OF THE MURAL
CHIEF CHEMAINUS NATIVE HERITAGE 1983 CHEMAINUS, B.C., CANADA
A WORLD UNITED
EXPO86 UNITED NATIONS PAVILION VANCOUVER,B.C.CANADA
PAUL chose THE HAIDA CHIEF AND MOSA MOHAVE(Collection Edward Curtis)for the centerpiece of his WORLD UNITED – Expo86,(May-October,1986) Vancouver B.C.Canada
YGARTUA ART CHRONICLES EXPO86 (Murals)
DE LA MANO GALLERY,
SCOTTSDALE (Paradise Valley), ARIZONA(1976-79)