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Brazil art exhibition showcases an Indigenous worldview and poses questions –



  • The exhibition “Véxoa: We know” at São Paulo’s Pinacoteca museum runs until March 22, 2021, showcasing works by 23 Indigenous artists and art collectives from different ethnicities and areas across Brazil.
  • It’s the first exhibition of Indigenous-only art in the museum’s more than 100 years.
  • Through paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs and installations, the artists seek to turn art into a form of activism, drawing attention to the impacts of agribusiness, politics and climate change on their territories.
  • Ailton Krenak, a leading Indigenous artist and thinker in Brazil who is showing two works at the exhibition, Véxoa is “an opportunity to expose the extremely adverse times that Indigenous people are experiencing as a result of political violence perpetrated against [their] rights by the Brazilian State.”
A photograph by Edgar Correa Kanayrõ, from the Xakriabá Indigenous group in Minas Gerais state, Brazil, part of the exhibition “Véxoa: We know.” Image courtesy of Edgar Correa Kanayrõ.

Four clay panthers look at visitors through glass shields. The first two, black, are the guardians of memory. The ones at the back, on pedestals, are jaguars — but they lie in pieces. The artist behind the works is Tamikuã Txihi, a member of the Pataxó Indigenous people. Her works are among the dozens on show in the exhibition Véxoa: We know, which can be seen at the Pinacoteca art museum in São Paulo, Brazil, from Oct. 31 through March 22, 2021.

The two broken jaguars were vandalized during a 2019 Indigenous art exhibition in Embu das Artes municipality, São Paulo state. “I chose not to fix them and leave this memory alive instead, knowing that every part of these vandalized panthers reemerges in each Indigenous territory, in each woman’s body, in each body in our community, as a woman, as a mother. We women are part of every people, we are part of hope,” Tamikuã says. The jaguar cubs remain intact: “They can touch our trunk, but our roots are deep. These two young panthers represent the future of our community, our children.”

Tamikuã Txihi’s broken jaguars in the work “Áxiná (exna), Apêtxiênã and Krokxí.” Image by Sibélia Zanon.

The artists and the exhibition’s curator, Naine Terena, see Indigenous art as a form of activism. For the first time, three rooms at the Pinacoteca are showing contemporary Indigenous works by 23 artists and art collectives from different areas of Brazil.

Since the start of the exhibition, the Pinacoteca’s permanent collection of Brazilian art, featuring more than 400 artists, also includes works by two Indigenous artists who participate in the Véxoa exhibition: Denilson Baniwa and Jaider Esbell. The latter is a member of the Macuxi people and winner of the 2016 PIPA Online Award.

“Before then, we used to see Indigenous people represented by non-Indigenous artists at the Pinacoteca,” Naine says. “The exhibition is a setting to start thinking and discussing about Indigenous agents as producers of their own art, in the ways they want to be seen, and showing what they want to show.”

The exhibition includes two works by Ailton Krenak, who won the Union of Brazilian Writers’ Juca Pato Award as Intellectual of the Year and also published a book earlier this year, titled Life Is Not Useful, in which he reflects on the destructive nature of Western civilization through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement to Mongabay, Krenak said “the most important thing is to congratulate Naine Terena and this generation of Indigenous people who see this opportunity to open Véxoa also as an opportunity to expose the extremely adverse times that our people are experiencing as a result of the political violence perpetrated against [their] rights by the Brazilian State.”

Known for having painted his face black with a traditional dye derived from the genipap tree while speaking for native peoples at Brazil’s Constituent Assembly in 1987, Krenak takes a critical look at the current market demand for Indigenous art, questioning whether native artists’ standpoints and views on the world are effectively understood by the Western art system, or whether “it’s just about consuming novelty.”

Krenak cites the importance of the fact that Sandra Benites, an anthropologist from the Guarani Nhandeva ethnic group, was hired by the São Paulo Art Museum (MASP) to serve as an assistant curator for Brazilian art in 2019. “I think the art system wants to capture the subjectivity of these non-whites into its catalog, and we have to be smart not to do just what pleases symbolic consumption of art,” Krenak says. “Indigenous art is not produced for the market.”

Denilson Baniwa and his work, “Nothing Gold Can Stand 1: Thread,” which will plant flowers, medicinal herbs and pepper plants outside the Pinacoteca — “external” territory — whose growth will be shown by security cameras to people inside the museum. Image by Levi Fanan.

Exposing crimes through art

Commodification of native peoples’ knowledge and the attacks on his Macuxi people are topics addressed in the videos that Jaider Esbell is showing at the exhibition.

“Every exhibition of Indigenous art is primarily about exposing all the crimes that are taking place today,” he says. “We wanted to raise positive questions in this art setting that are related to our technology of knowledge, our cosmogony. While we necessarily experience violence, [we want to] use art settings to expand this struggle.”

Esbell also brings his work “Tree of All Knowledge” to the exhibition. It’s an interactive panel with digital signatures of people from different parts of the Americas. “Basically, this is the essence of the panel: working on issues of diversity, of cultural wealth,” he says.

Born in Roraima state, Esbell lived until the age of 18 in what is now the Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Territory, a 1.7-million-hectare (4.3-million-acre) reserve inhabited mainly by the Macuxi people. According to him, the Macuxi have been historically threatened by cattle ranchers, miners and rice farmers whose presence in the reserve started increasing in the 1970s. “The entire territory is demarcated, and that demarcation is under constant threat of being canceled,” Esbell says. While Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court recognized the territory’s continuous demarcation in 2009 and ordered non-Indigenous people to leave it, President Jair Bolsonaro has declared his intention to review the demarcations of this and other reserves, putting Brazil’s Indigenous peoples in a state of permanent tension.

Jaider Esbell’s “Tree of all Knowledge.” Image courtesy of Jaider Esbell.

Thousands of kilometers away from the Macuxi, the Pataxó Hãhãhãe are facing a similar situation. After six decades of watching ranchers occupy their land, it was only in the 1980s that they were able to begin reclaiming it, the Caramuru-Paraguaçu Indigenous Territory, by then degraded by years of farming. The saga only came to an end in 2012, when a Supreme Court decision nullified property titles that had previously been issued by the state government to the invaders. However, tensions remain in the area.

And it is this struggle over the Pataxó territory that journalist and documentary filmmaker Olinda Yawar describes in her film “Kaapora — The Call of the Forests,” which debuts at the Véxoa exhibition and also at the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival. Yawar says the film addresses Indigenous peoples’ connection to the land through spirituality and emphasizes the work’s direct relationship with her environmental activism.

“I lead a community project called Kaapora that works with environmental education, sustainable development and restoration of degraded areas. So I decided to make this film about Kaapora, an entity that protects forests and animals according to the indigenous worldview,” she says.

Yawar, who also has Tupinambá blood, says she hopes the film will be a warning against threats not only to their territory but to all Indigenous lands in Brazil. One of them is climate change.

“We understand that the climate is having a lot of influence on survival because sometimes you plant and what you planted will not grow. It’s not raining at the right time,” she says. She also has political concerns: “We Indigenous peoples are losing a lot of rights that we had already achieved. The so-called Timeframe case is about to be tried in court.”

The argument behind the Timeframe lawsuit, now before the Supreme Court, says that only territories that were already in the possession of Indigenous communities in 1988, when Brazil adopted its current Constitution, can be demarcated as Indigenous lands. That was the case for the Raposa Terra do Sol Indigenous Territory when it was demarcated in 2009, but would not appply in other cases. Indigenous leaders oppose the argument, as Yawar points out: “Several Indigenous peoples were evicted from their lands well before that time. Therefore, the decision may take land away from them.”

Scene from “Kaapora — The Call of the Forests” by Olinda Yawar, premiering at the exhibition Véxoa: We know. Image courtesy of Olinda Yawar.

‘Either all Indians are artists or nobody is’

In a video, Jaider Esbell says he used to grate cassava as a child, but what he really wanted was to be an artist. Today, he teaches a course at São Paulo’s Museum of Modern Art (MAM) and says he makes art by grating cassava as well. Ailton Krenak seems to agree: “Either all Indians are artists or nobody is. We make baskets, we make Sputnik, we make rockets, we have picnics, we make popcorn, we make book covers, we draw canoes, we make objects. We don’t assign any further meaning to these objects. They are artifacts.”

Breaking stereotypes attributed to Indigenous peoples is one of the goals of Véxoa, which means “we know” in the Terena language. Curator Naine Terena selected works considered traditional, yet contemporary, including digital drawings, audiovisual displays, sculptures, and handicrafts.

“Our goal is to provide diversity without grouping them by ethnicity or chronology, emphasizing the visual and conceptual specificities of each piece,” she says. “The works have no standard style, but they relate to each other within the indigenous symbolic universe.”

Olinda Yawar says more than 300 Indigenous ethnic groups live in Brazil and each one of them has experienced different historical processes.

“We have more than 520 years of contact,” she says. “Culture changes and native peoples have followed that change, and I think it’s important to show a little of that, to show that Indigenous peoples have art, they have culture.”

Ceremonial garments of the Waurá, who live in the Upper Xingu area, on display at the Véxoa exhibition. Image by Levi Fanan.

In addition to the works, the exhibition includes a series of performances by several Indigenous groups, but they have not been scheduled yet because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Esbell was supposed to have opened the exhibition with an “activation” ceremony featuring Bernaldina José Pedro, a master of the Macuxi culture known as Granny Bernaldina. She died of COVID-19 in June, at the age of 75.

Zuleica Tiago Terena, from the Taunay Ipegue Indigenous Territory in Mato Grosso do Sul state, is part of the group of Terena women invited to sing playful and ritualistic chants at the Pinacoteca. These chants, she says, are performed at important moments in life, both in joy and in sadness, from the birth of a child to mourning a death. There will be plent of reasons to chant this year, most of them in sorrow: the Terena are among the top three Indigenous groups most affected by the pandemic, with about 50 confirmed deaths from COVID-19.

“Many Terena have died, we were very sad,” Zuleica says, almost in a chant.

“Nothing will stop us,” a work by Yacunã Tuxá, an artist and activist who uses the support of digital art to speak about the condition of Indigenous women. Image courtesy of Yacunã Tuxá.

Banner image of works by Daiara Tukano at the exhibition Véxoa: We know. Top, snake painting on a wall; below, the Hori, a set of four paintings on canvas.

This story was first reported by Mongabay’s Brazil team and published here on our Brazil site on Nov. 5, 2020.

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Calgary community takes art to the streets as COVID-19 shutters galleries – The Globe and Mail



Residents in the Calgary community of Sunnyside have taken to getting their garages and fences painted with murals, brightening up the community.

Todd Korol/Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

It has been a tough year for art around the world. Artists have not had a venue to hang their art. Galleries have locked the doors trying to ensure the safety of patrons and staff.

In the little community of Sunnyside in northwest Calgary, more than 20 new pieces of art have been added to the community’s collection. Their collection is free to anyone who walks down the alleyways – the canvases are the residences’ garage doors.

A poem is posted outside a home on a fence post in the community of Sunnyside, part of one of Canada’s largest art walks.

Todd Korol/Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

What started out as a few homeowners painting murals on their garage doors has now grown into one of Canada’s largest outdoor art walks, featuring murals of polar bears, Olympic cross-country skiers, magpies and much more.

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“It’s snowballing now,” homeowner Christie Page says. “It’s become a place where people from outside the city come and look at our art. It’s a place you want to stop and visit. I feel it’s made our neighbourhood safer and better for businesses.”

A golden moose sculpture stands on a front porch in Sunnyside, on Nov. 21, 2020.

Todd Korol/Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

Ms. Page has created an Instagram page for the art walk; she’s also added it as a location on Google Maps.

This past summer, the community received a grant to get more garages painted, helping struggling city artists in the process.

One of the garages of Sunnyside, part of one of Canada’s largest art walks.

Todd Korol/Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

In these days of physical distancing, art fans can safely visit the neighbourhood and view the outdoor exhibition that has grown with sculptures, small outdoor art galleries and painted fences.

“You can hire an artist, or just get some paint and paint it yourself. Draw a stick man or a flower,” Ms. Page says.

“It all makes our neighbourhood better.”

Todd Korol/Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

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Art Gabor initiated bantam football to give young athletes a chance –



In 1958, when Chippewa Secondary School opened and many NBCI & VS students transferred to the new high school a bitter rivalry was born. NBCI & VS became ACS – Algonquin Composite School.

The official reason they called it Composite is because the school offered arts and science, commercial and technical disciplines. The down-low chatter was that A.S.S. would be misinterpreted on banners, signs, and school uniforms and jackets. Anyway, shortly thereafter Mr. Art Gabor, formerly of NBCI &VS and now the head physical education teacher at the new school, came up with the brilliant idea to create a new level of football. The ‘bantam’ level was created but only three high schools initially participated for the Art Gabor Trophy. Chippewa, ACS, and Mattawa were the teams.

See relatedArt Gabor obituary

Of course, with a new school, the team had new equipment and uniforms and a beautiful practice field at the rear of the school. Our old school, ACS had old equipment, from the 40s I am sure, and not a regulation field to the side of the school bordered by the railway tracks, Bourke Playground, and houses on Jane Street.

If the junior or senior boys football teams were practicing on the school field the bantam team was relegated to the Bourke Playground.

I remember one practice where our full back, Brian Wiggins, came sweeping around the left end and I was playing defensive halfback. He went between me and the boards for the playground rink, so instead of tackling him, I body checked him into the boards. Both Frenchy Kennedy and Moe Drolet, who were the coaches for our team, started to laugh and asked me why I did that. I told them I figured that was the only way to stop Brian without me possibly getting slivers in my hands.

Maurice ‘Moe’ Drolet and Laurence ‘Frenchy’ Kennedy were senior football players in the technical program at ACS who took time out to coach us young and very inexperienced football wannabees.

There was no organized football until you got to high school and junior football went up to 16 years of age so you could be 13 and 5 foot 2 and 98 pounds, as I was in Grade 9, and be up against players 90 pounds heavier than you. So, by starting the bantam program, that increased the number of possible future junior and senior players who now knew the fundamentals of the game. Art Gabor was very forward-thinking in this respect.

Anyway, the 1961 ACS Bantam Football Team played two memorable games that I would appreciate you bearing with me for my remembrances of these two games.

The first game was against the Mattawa High School and the game was played in Mattawa. Mr. Norm Grant was the assigned teacher to accompany the team on the rented bus as Moe and Frenchy were students and could not be officially assigned the duty of responsibility for all team members.

We arrived in Mattawa and were not permitted to go into the school to dress. We changed on the bus and the game got underway. Algonquin ran up 56 points and Mattawa had not had a sniff at our goal line.

A lot of our players were playing both ways so I approached the two captains, Roger Bowness and Brian Wiggins, and suggested we let Mattawa score a touchdown. I do not believe they had scored any points that year to that point.

Everyone was in agreement except for my defensive secondary partner, who we shall call player X. He was one of our offensive half backs and he stated that the Mattawa players were trying to gouge his eyes, pulling the hair on his legs and the centre for Mattawa, who had a ‘steel’ helmet was trying to pile drive player X into the ground every time there was a pile-up.

Anyway, on the next play, we let the Mattawa ball carrier go through the line and as he made for the goal line, player X tackled him. On the next play, we had to tackle player X so Mattawa could score. They did and the game ended up 56-6.

After the game, the high school facilities were opened to us and there was even a small food and drink offering made available. This was a good life lesson in sportsmanship that team sports teach young players.

We could not beat Chippewa in the two regular-season games we played them. They had big Dusty Marshall at fullback, Gordie McGuinty was their quarterback and Bill Johnson was their swift back fielder.

We got into the final game for the Gabor Trophy, which we had won the year before, and we were bound and determined to beat Chippewa that day. We did not have a home field but Chippewa had won all of their games so the game was played at Chippewa on a very cold and windy afternoon in late October.

No one could score in that game and there was very little time left on the clock. The Chippewa team had the ball on our 20-yard line. Their kicker, Alan Gray, booted the ball past our goal line about 10 yards deep. Our player, Sid Price, caught the football and booted it back out into the playing field. I believe Alan Gray retrieved the ball and booted it back into the scoring area. Again, Sid Price fielded the ball and tried to run out of our end zone. He was tackled about two yards deep in the end zone and we lost the game 1-0.

Those were two very memorable games that went different ways but were enjoyable just the same.

The player for Mattawa with the steel helmet was well known in sporting circles in and around North Bay. His name was Corky Lessard and he played with only one arm – both football and fastball.

Player X will not be named but I will give you a big hint of who he is: He was a very fast-skating right winger for the North Bay Trappers Junior teams in the mid-60s and he scored eight goals on Espanola Eagles goalie, Paul Menard, one Sunday afternoon I believe in 1965.

Sadly, our two coaches, Maurice ‘Moe’ Drolet and Laurence ‘Frenchy’ Kennedy both passed away in vehicle accidents in their very young years. I will never forget them for their generosity of time and expertise in mentoring some young football players.

Our Captain in 1961 – a more than wonderful guy – also passed away at 16 years of age. Brian Wiggins was not with us too long but he was a joy to know and a very good guy in all respects.

Story originally posted in the A Bit of the Bay nostalgia Facebook Group, republished with permission from author Brian Darling.

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Former Vancouver Canucks goalie’s art featured in Kelowna Art Gallery exhibition



Richard Brodeur used to make his living holding a goalie stick, but these days, the man formerly known as “King Richard” by Vancouver Canucks fans, is more likely to be found with a paintbrush in his hand.

“It’s always a challenge like [when] you play professional hockey, you have a challenge every day, every game and then I feel the same every time with a painting. It’s a challenge every time you face the canvas,” said Brodeur.

The new Okanagan resident is one of three artists featured at the Kelowna Art Gallery in an exhibit that reveals the story behind the artwork.

“I’ve been dealing with depression for over 30 years and I have had about 13 concussions when I played so that didn’t help,” said Brodeur. “You gotta find something that will get you out of it or help you anyway and that’s what my painting did.”

The Art Council of the Central Okanagan is striving to bring art to the community safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

“With what’s going on in the world there is really nothing we can do to control it but we can control our own environment,” said Kirsteen McCullouch, Arts Council of the Central Okanagan executive director.

“I think it’s really critical to bring joy and peace and harmony in a time of darkness and through art, we do that.”

Storytellers also feature Summerland artist Danielle Krysa and Vernon’s Jude Clarke. Clarke’s story is inspired by her environment.

“The lake made a huge impact on me, water is really a beautiful environment for me I was in the water, I was on the water, I was around the water and hiking in the hills all the time,” said Clarke.

As for Brodeur, his work is telling the story of his childhood, playing pick up hockey on outdoor rinks growing up in Quebec.

The exhibit will be open to the public until Jan. 31 at the Kelowna Art Gallery.

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