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K̓esu': The Art and Life of Doug Cranmer Books

K̓esu': The Art and Life of Doug Cranmer

By Douglas and McIntyre


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Author - Jennifer Kramer is curator of the Pacific Northwest, Museum of Anthropology, and assistant professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia.

Northwest Coast Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw art is renowned for its flamboyant, energetic and colourful carving and painting. Among the best-known practitioners was Doug Cranmer, whose style was understated, elegant, fresh, and unique, and whose work quickly found an international following in the 1960s. He was an early player in the global, commercial art market and one of the first Native artists in British Columbia to own his own gallery. A long-time teacher, he inspired generations of young Native artists in Alert Bay, British Columbia, and across the province.

This beautifully illustrated book is a record of the art, life and influence of a man who called himself a "whittler" or "doodler" but embodied "indigenous modern" well before the term had been coined. Although he understood and mastered Northwest Coast design, Doug experimented extensively with techniques and materials. He pioneered abstract and non-figurative paintings using Northwest Coast ovoids and U-shapes̱ embraced the practice of silk-screening on wood, paper and burlap̱ and adapted power tools to new applications in art.

Pragmatist, individualist, iconoclast, contrarian, mentor, Doug was a man who lived life on his own terms. He respected the tradition of the Big House and acknowledged his chiefly heritage, yet he lived simply and without pretence. Skillfully weaving recollections from his friends and family, facts about his life and examples of his stunning artwork, K̓esu' captures Doug's personality and his paradoxes. It is wide-ranging celebration of Doug, his oeuvre and his profound influence on Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw art.

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