UNDER THE NORTHERN SKY – Opening Up With Art And Music

by Xavier Kataquapit 


    There is hope that life is getting back to normal and the pandemic is being managed to a great degree here in Canada. With this new normal, things are opening up. It has been a hard road for anyone involved in the creative arts and our artists, musicians, actors and dancers have all had to deal with little opportunity to entertain and stage their art. 

    Recently Adrian Sutherland, a childhood friend of mine from Attawapiskat released on September 17, a debut solo album titled ‘When The Magic Hits’. He has been hard at work in making and producing his music from his northern studio in Attawapiskat. In addition to his musical career, he is involved in many creative projects. You can view his latest music and creative projects at his website at adriansutherlandmusic.com  

    Wabimeguil, an indigenous artist from Northern Ontario continues, even during the pandemic, to produce her work and market it across the country. She is a great inspiration to many in the north as she continues the spirit of creativity handed down from her late father Lindy Louttit who is originally from Attawapiskat. Wabimeguil, which translates as ‘White Feather’ has been active as an artist for decades now and is well known for her traditional and cultural themes. You can view her work and more information about her at www.wabimeguil.com 

    A creative pair of non-Native friends of mine, Alana Pierini and her partner Lee Holmes have been involved in producing music and visual arts for decades here in northern Ontario and they have been featured in venues across the province and in Europe. 

    They have been working right through the challenges presented by the pandemic and over the past two years have had to cancel showings and performances as a result of Covid19 and the lockdowns we have experienced. The creative duo collaborate on visual arts and music. They have a rich and vibrant history as creative influencers. Lee has a long career that connects him to the music industry as a blues musician who has produced numerous albums and singles. Alana is a well known visual artist from Iroquois Falls who has inspired and taught many young people as a teacher and instructor and as an independent visual artist she has produced many works of art in various mediums over the years.  She also writes the lyrics for Lee’s music productions. In turn he contributes to the production of her art. 

    If you want to see some interesting art being featured right here in the north you can do so by attending the Pierini Art Crawl at the Temiskaming Art Gallery (TAG) in New Liskeard on November 6. The event will feature Alana’s art work and performances by Lee Holmes and the Beautitones. You can find out more information about this latest art exhibit from the Temiskaming Art Gallery Facebook page. In addition, Lee and the Beautitones are also performing at various venues in the north in the upcoming month. You can find out more information at his website at: www.leeholmes.online

    Music and the arts are an important part of our lives and we have all looked to art, music and the movie world to help get us through this pandemic. Art in any form entertains us, makes us think, calms us and serves to mark special moments in time. 

    I was reminded of the power of art and music when a friend on my social media shared a memorable Youtube music video of John Rodrique performing ‘Pretty Girl’ at the Moosonee arena in 1991 during the Jammin’ On The Bay music event. At the time, this simple original pop song from that regional concert made us feel like we had our own star and our own music. John and his band were all from the James Bay coast and we were proud to call them our own. We bought the cassettes they produced and we played them over and over again until they wore out. Myself, my siblings and my teen friends at the time were experiencing those intense coming of age years and we were all on fire with our hopes and dreams. These many decades later I look back on that trail of early life and see so many gone now, moved on to other realities and some having become parents and grandparents. Still our own rock star John Rodrique, who passed at a young age, gave us a way to recall the joyful, energetic life so full of wonder back in 1991. 

    The power of art and music has always given us cause for reflection and hope.