A Note from the Project Curator
Benjamin Chee Chee: Life and Legacy is the third major retrospective exhibition of Benjamin Chee Chee. The first was held at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery in 1983, upon their acquisition of a collection of 49 paintings and five prints for their new gallery, the Thunder Bay Nation and Exhibition and Centre for Indian Art. In 1991 the Thunder Bay Art Gallery held a second retrospective exhibition. Benjamin Chee Chee: The Black Geese Portfolio was curated by Robert Houle and featured 18 minimalist images of geese, the last body of work created by Chee Chee prior to his death in 1977.
Benjamin Chee Chee: Life and Legacy furthers an understanding of Chee Chee, the artist, presenting Chee Chee's life and works from the perspective of both the personal and professional. The inspiration of the Temiskaming Art Gallery, the exhibition was realized through the collaborative efforts of Temiskaming Art Gallery (TAG), their project partner le Centre culturel ARTEM, TAG staff and Board of directors (in particular Melissa La Porte as Curator at the time of conception of the project, Kirsten Hill as current Interim Curator, Kathy Hakola as Board Member, and Lydia Alexander as Chair of the Board), Hugh Mckenzie (close life-long friend of Benjamin's and fellow artist from Bear Island) and his partner Victoria Wilde, Ernie Bies (close friend of Benjamin's in Ottawa) and his partner Sandra Bies, Duane Paul (cousin of Benjamin's's from Bear Island), John Shymko (Economic Development Officer of the Temagami First Nation friend, and photographer extraordinaire), the Temagami First Nation Band Council, Réjeanne Belisle-Massie and Michel Massie, Lucy Work and Alice Clarkson from Toronto, interested and supportive friends on Bear Island and in Temagami (Temagami Public School, Daisy Fannin, Roxanne St. Germain, Patsy Turner, Jamie Saville, our taxi-boat driver, David Laronde, and Robin Potts), Lyndsay Cote, the Indigenous Art Centre at the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs (in particular Kevin Gibbs), the Thunder Bay Art Gallery (in particular Meaghan Eley), Claudette Larocque (owner of "Friends", 1974), Marvyn Morrison (owner of 'Untitled', 1976), Normand and Suzanne Routhier (owner of 'Untitled', 1976), Carmen L. Robertson (scholar), Guy Mattar (administrator for the Estate of Benjamin Chee Chee), Daniel Gainery, Tom Hill, Al Evans for writing his fascinating and informative book 'Chee Chee: A Study of Aboriginal Suicide', Bohdan Wowk, Philippe Murat of Ottawa, interested and supportive friends in New Liskeard and Haileybury (Diane Therrien, Lise Gravel and her students at ESCSM, Mary Graham and her students at TDSS, Sheri Kidd and her students in Englehart, and Steve Kozinsku), Chris Oslund, Charlie Angus, friends at the Department of Canadian Hertiage and the CBC Broadcast Centre, Charlie and Lexi Wowk, friends at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa (in particular Nathaniel Parant), Brendan Coughlin and our transport driver from Pacrat, the other galleries across the province that have expressed an interest in hosting Benjamin Chee Chee: Life and Legacy, and myself.