Landscapes - Winter 2015 - (Page 18)
UPFRONT | PROLOGUE
"WISDOM", WRIT LARGE
EN_ THE TECUMSEH MEMORIAL
sculpture is not a bronze bust of the
Shawnee leader. "That is the worst thing
I could have done," said sculptor Gordon
Reeve, who created the memorial for
a site near Chatham-Kent, Ontario.
"That would be just one more case of
the white man telling the First Nations
their story." He first consulted widely
with people who shared a profound
empathy for the history and traditions
of Indigenous people, including two
landscape architects, computer designers,
fabricators and primarily, a great many
First Nations people.
As a white man, Gord Reeve listened to
the First Nations with a keen sensitivity.
In turn, the First Nations saw him as an
artist, and they have the utmost respect
for artistic people. Then, he contacted
his "go-to" landscape architect, former
student Brian Parker. Parker was honoured
to "jump in with both feet...envisioning
how Reeve's evolving sculptural idea would
fit into the existing landscape and what
could be done to that landscape to make it
a real extension of the sculpture." Shortly
thereafter, the two contacted Ryan James
to work on conceptual renderings to
capture the spirit of the piece.
As they collaborated, the original concept
for the site, called "The Place of Many
Five months before the dedication of "Wisdom"
this spring, Reeve happened upon a recording
by renowned Navaho-ute flautist R. Carlos
Nakai. While listening to the music, Reeve's
imagination stirred with a vision of a ceremonial
procession. This was an idea that literally
brought him to tears - even though, as Reeve
says with a dry smile, "I am not a man who
is prone to spiritual visions." Reeve made
contact with Nakai, explained his project, and
mentioned the idea that had come to him. In
return, Nakai explained that a very similar and
powerful idea had recently come to him as well.
Without hesitation he said, "This is too close.
I will be there." On June 20, Nakai and Reeve
led a procession along the Two Row Wampum
path. The emotion evoked by R. Carlos' prayers
and solo performance touched the four hundred
people gathered at the site.
"The prayers and the music were the driving
part of the vision. That he offered them
spontaneously and in his language was the
central element in creating the place," said Gord.
WITH bRIAN PARKER + RYAN JAMES
18 LANDSCAPES PAYSAGES
Grasses," evolved and grew. The grasses
and landscape materials were chosen, the
pathway modified, the details refined.
"If any one of those people had been
removed from the sequence of events,
then we never would have succeeded,"
said Reeve. And yet, he admits that
he may pretend to collaborate, but he
certainly does not.
"It's not about authorship...it's about the
process that I work through," he said.
"Once I have a clear intuition on what to
do, then I don't question that idea. ... We
just have to go... and all the other pieces
will fall into place."
And so they did. The proof is in the results
that Reeve has orchestrated. The piece
itself, named "Wisdom," is very large,
captivating... even ethereal... and it is
a good fit for the site and its cultural
context. The collaboration is what Brian
Parker calls a "small" collaboration. "Ryan
and I tuned our design aesthetics to those
of the artist. Our role was to support his
vision...so that, as the site matures and
the plant material grows, it will remain
true to the artistic vision."
That vision is endorsed by the community.
Chief Greg Peters, Chief of the Delaware
Nation - Moravian of the Thames, asked
Reeve to join him during the opening
ceremony, leading the procession.
> Gordon Reeve's blog, a Place of Many
1 WINTER: A PLACE OF MANY GRASSES 2 R.
CARLOS NAKAI, bEAR CLAN, ACKNOWLEDGES
THE bEAR I | 1 HIVER : A PLACE OF MANY GRASSES
2 R. CARLOS NAKAI INDIQUE L'OURS
PHOTOS 1 GREG LYNCH, HUFF MEDIA SOLUTIONS 2 MATHIAS REEVE
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Landscapes - Winter 2015
COVER | COUVERTURE
TO BEGIN WITH | POUR COMMENCER
WRITERS | NOS RÉDACTEURS
UPFRONT | PROLOGUE
Celebrating the Charter | Célébrer!
INTERVIEW | ENTREVUE
!Vámonos! to Mexico City
Cultural Dimensions of Contemporary Design
Keeping the Land
Kingston: Vintage Grace Meets Modernist Style
OPINION | OPINION
NUNAVIK + LE PLAN NORD
Metamorphous: Vancouver’s Seawall Sculpture
bREAL ART + DESIGN
JEAN LANDRY, LAST WORD
LE MOT DE LA FIN | THE LAST WORD
Landscapes - Winter 2015