Film maker and actor Cowboy Smithx and photographer Blaire Russell are taking The Pensive Times Tour across North America. They are touring Canada and the United States to promote their work through presentations, speaking to other artists and groups in different cities to raise funds for Cowboy’s first feature film called Pensive Times of an Urban Tribe.
The film is about an ensemble of indigenous people living in Toronto, facing extreme adversity in their personal lives. A young art student gets them all together to write about their personal struggles; she then publishes their stories in an online blog called The Pensive Times. The site gains popularity in social media, and the group becomes the target of an obsessed homicidal fan.
Blaire Russell, from the Kainai First Nation, joined Cowboy to talk about photography and document their tour through his camera lens.
“The tour has given me a chance to network with many artists and media people across Turtle Island. It has also inspired me as an artist to pursue my dreams and talents,” says Blaire, who has also been booking photo shoots with models and artists along the way. After beginning the tour in March 2013 at the Concordia University in Edmonton Alberta, they headed south to Calgary, Kainai, Piikani and Siksika. They have travelled east to capital cities and communities in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, then to British Columbia where Cowboy directed a music video for award winning and Juno nominated musician Inez Jasper for her new track called “Dancin’ on the Run.”
They recently toured Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, the Navajo Nation, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Oklahoma, and New York.
”It’s huge for me,” says Cowboy. “I have been doing small projects for far too long. This tour has been a leap of faith into the abyss of feature filmmaking—the primary reason I got into this business in the first place. I have seen so many great projects from my peers get rejected by funders—not because they aren’t good; it’s just the arts have been getting cut so much there isn’t enough money to go around. Crowd funding gives artists another chance to bring their work to life.”
Cowboy was inspired to start this tour because the storyline of his project is about the impact of colonization on the characters: all indigenous people who have become disconnected within their lives.
”It’s important because the next few generations will be facing very serious circumstances concerning the environment, indigenous rights, protection of their territories, and the maintenance of their language and culture. Non-indigenous people in North America need to see that we are allies, not enemies. The Idle No More movement exposed the vibrant presence of racist ignorance in North America, especially in Canada. I want to create a healthy dialogue around a lot of these issues through the creation of this film,” explains Cowboy.
Cowboy and Blaire continue their journey through Indian Country and plan on ending the tour in Ontario, Canada. After the tour, Cowboy will go into production for the film Pensive Times of an Urban Tribe.
“This tour has proven to a lot of people the hope that if you set your mind to something and see the end result, good things will happen if you work hard towards them. The importance of getting yourself out there, putting in hard work, and meeting as many people as possible helps you as an artist in the long run,” says Blaire Russell.
To support the project, go to [www.fundweaver.com] and look up Pensive Times of an Urban Tribe. They have also documented the tour through video, radio, photography, and music. Look for Cowboy Smithx on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter (@CowboySmithx), and follow Blaire Russell Photography on Facebook and Tumblr.