Thursday, December 6, 2007
Honoring a Friend
My friend has just lost his father and his mentor, both inside of a week or so. I know he hurts with the pain we all feel when a great loss empties our heart. He is strong and he understand more about the world than I ever will so I know he will be OK, but I want to honor him today by posting these pictures and a few words about him and how our lives intersect.
This is a picture of my friend Blair Debassige from Manitoulin Island, M'Chigeen, Ontario, Canada. He is a great artist.
I am honored to own the picture he is standing next to. It is called "Sacred Journey," but my family and I call it "Family Portrait" since it depicts us in each of our places.
I first met Blair around 15 years ago. I was wanderiing around Manitoulin Island checking out side roads and such and stumbled into his gallery. I was entranced with the wild images I saw and didn't think that anything could be better than living in this wonderous woodland place and being an artist with your own gallery perched above the waters of Lake Huron. We talked about one of his larger pieces that was literally out of this world. I couldn't afford it or any of his art at the time, but he sold me a poster size copy of it, signed it and I went along my way. I thought of that place a lot as I had the poster framed and hung it in my living room, but I never got back to visit his gallery for almost another ten years.
This is Blair and his mentor the great father/founder of the woodland school of art, Norval Morriseau. Mr. Morriseau was famous in Canada where artists are revered and appreciated.
A few years ago I purposefully went up to M'Chigeen when I was on Manitoulin to see if Blair Debassige still had his studio/gallery and was still doing art. I was also hoping to buy a nice piece of art for my new house. I walked into his gallery and there was a woman working there. I asked if Blair was around and she said, "yes, he's up at the house." I said, "oh, I wanted to talk to him." and she told me to go on up to the house and ring the doorbell, that he wouldn't mind. I'm not sure if he minded at the time or not, but I did ring his doorbell and we ended up becoming good friends.
Talking to Blair about his art is like being drawn into a world of great depth and dimension. It's a world that swirls you around and leaves me happy and at peace. . . usually. And that's the way I feel when I'm hanging out with Blair whether we're out getting something to eat, sitting on his porch watching the incredible sunsets across the bay and especially when I have the great opportunity and honor of watching him paint. It's always a journey that leaves me feeling happy and at peace. I laugh a lot around Blair. He's a funny guy who is acutely aware of the world around him. I get sick of all the dumbassed fucks out there who are unaware of everything around them.
I feel like I know Blair. I know something of his defects and his strengths, his insecurities and his powers. He doesn't give those things up easily and neither do I, but I think we have shared those things.
So Blair, I hope that these words find you with some level of comfort today. You've enriched my life and I'm honored to be your friend.
I'm so sorry about your father's passing and Norval's passing. We all have our time.
I look forward to seeing you next spring. . . cooking Mexican food, grabbing one of those great burgers and fries at the bowling alley, checking out your new stuff and just being back on the island. Damn I miss that place.