Métis Nation artist reflects his heritage in Aboriginal Eye

Armstrong Spallumcheen Art Gallery opens for the season with an exhibition by renowned Métis artist Dennis Weber,

Renowned Kelowna Métis artist Dennis Weber shows his work at the Armstrong Spallumcheen Art Gallery starting Thursday through to May 31. An opening reception takes place May 17.

Renowned Kelowna Métis artist Dennis Weber shows his work at the Armstrong Spallumcheen Art Gallery starting Thursday through to May 31. An opening reception takes place May 17.

The doors are about to open for a season of locally produced art at the Armstrong Spallumcheen Art Gallery.

The gallery opens its 2014 season Thursday to two new exhibitions, including the annual School Crossing show, featuring artwork by Armstrong students from kindergarten to Grade 12, in the Freeze Gallery, and Aboriginal Eye, featuring the work of renowned Métis artist Dennis Weber, in the gallery’s main space.

“We are extremely lucky to have Dennis wishing to show with us,” said gallery administrator Sherry MacFarlane. “He is located in Kelowna and has his own gallery. He is also going to be our in-house artist for the SPARC (Spallumcheen Armstrong Arts Council Society)  A Taste for Art in Armstrong on May 31, so we are very excited.”

Born in Prince Albert, Sask., Weber lived most of his life in Calgary before coming to the Okanagan in 1999.

He now works out of his Kelowna home studio and runs his Weber Gallery.

Known for his realist portraiture, Weber has been greatly influenced by his mother’s Métis heritage, with its 17th century origins through to Louis Riel, the political and spiritual leader of the Métis people and a founder of Manitoba.

About a century after Riel’s death in 1885, after he was charged for high treason for leading the North West Rebellion, Weber says he started looking at the possibility of becoming a full-time artist.

He has not only achieved this, but is now considered one of Canada’s foremost Métis artists.

His personal collection of Métis artifacts is often on display at cultural events alongside his art, most notably the 2007 exhibition, We Are Métis, at the Kelowna Museum.  Weber says he is proud to identify with the revitalized Métis Nation as an artist and youth mentor for the Métis Community Services Society of B.C.

“When someone responds to my work, they often tell me it’s because it reminds them of a past experience, favourite place or someone they know. Creating a bridge between our common experiences is what I value most about the art I produce,” he said.

Weber’s preferred media are pencil, charcoal or oil and he often glazes layer after layer to achieve a unique look.

He has accredited signature status in both the Federation of Canadian Artists and the Canadian Institute of Portrait Artists and his art classes as well as portrait demonstrations and workshops are much in demand,

Throughout the year, Weber’s art can be seen at various Métis events and other events and exhibitions. He is especially busy in summer when he joins the Artist’s Ride in South Dakota, which is an invitational event attended by 50 artists from across North America, where models and movie extras are available for artists to photograph for reference in their Native and Western art.

In July, he attends the prestigious Calgary Stampede Western Art Show and Kiyanaw at the Capital EX in Edmonton. He is also a regular figure at Lake Country’s annual ArtWalk in September.

The public can meet Weber at an opening reception for Aboriginal Eye and the School Crossing exhibition at the Armstrong Spallumcheen Art Gallery on May 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the exhibitions are on display until May 31.