By Taylar Dawn Stagner @taylarsiisiiko
& Benjamin C Yazza @benjamincyazza
Photograph of George Morrison hanging inside All My Relations Gallery in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Benjamin C Yazza)
(Sound file by Taylar Dawn Stagnar)
Two art galleries in Minneapolis, Minnesota, curated separate exhibitions celebrating the 100th birthday of Ojibwe artist George Morrison. He was an abstract expressionist from the Grand Portage reservation in northern Minnesota.
Much of his inspiration came from time along Lake Superior and his life within Minnesota.
Bockley Gallery is owned by Todd Bockley, a longtime collector and curator of Native art. The current exhibition on Morrison is not only a celebration of the artist but also the gallery’s 35th anniversary. Bockley reminisced about his first encounter with Morrison right after he opened his doors.
Todd Bockley talks about George Morrison’s artwork at Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis, MN, on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Benjamin C Yazza)
“I thought that was cool that he would trust this basically kid to do an exhibition of his work,” said Bockley.
Morrison’s work rejects popular assumptions of what Indigenous art looks like – such as feathers, bison and horses. Throughout his youth, many of the galleries wanted that stereotypical art, but Morrison was a painter who wanted to step outside the definitions of what makes a piece of art Indigenous.
“And there he studies at the Art Students League and kind of found himself to the Cedar Tavern and that was sort of the drinking hole for people like Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock,” said Bockley. “So, he just found himself in the middle of the modern art world.”