Exhibit honours first female carver

What's coming up on the University of Victoria campus

Mask of Ellen Neel

Mask of Ellen Neel

Artist and carver Ellen Newman Neel (Kwagiulth, Kwickwasutaineuk and ’Namgis) is often described as “the first Northwest Coast woman carver.” She defied gender barriers and federal law to become an acknowledged leader in the male-dominated world of totem carving and now, the University of Victoria’s Legacy Art Galleries will honour her artistic legacy with the first public exhibition of Neel’s work in more than five decades.

The exhibition opens Jan. 14 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Neel’s birth and 50th anniversary of her death.

Born in Alert Bay in 1916, Neel learned to carve during the 1920s from her grandfather, the eminent master carver Yakuglas/Charlie James (abt. 1867-1938), during a time when the First Nations’ art of carving was criminalized under federal law. By the mid-1940s, Neel was raising her children in Vancouver and, within a decade, had established her own carving business and retail outlet, The Totem Arts Shop in Stanley Park, where she taught her own children to make art.

Launching her artistic career during the potlatch prohibition – a period when carving was rare and the idea of a woman carver was new – Neel’s work can indeed be seen as revolutionary. As she once said, “Our art continues to live, for not only is it part and parcel of us, but can be a powerful factor in combining the best part of Indian culture with the fabric of a truly Canadian art form.”

Ellen Neel: the First Woman Totem Pole Carver is at Legacy Art Gallery Downtown, 630 Yates St., Jan. 14 to April 1.

A Tribute to Dave Brubeck

The extraordinary music of one of America’s most iconic jazz composers comes to the university’s Farquhar Auditorium when the Remi Bolduc Jazz Ensemble performs a Tribute to Dave Brubeck Saturday, Jan. 21.

Considered one of Canada’s best jazz saxophonists, Bolduc’s playing is both intense and under control, has breathtaking precision, blended with refreshing original compositions and a magnetic stage presence.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $35, or four for $100, from 250-721-8480, www.tickets.uvic.ca or in person at the University Centre.

Hamelin, a New Fable imparts life lessons

Axis Theatre is known for its unique style of physical theatre using masks and puppets. With Hamelin, a New Fable, the comedic, heart-tugging musical story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin is brought to life, featuring a cast of five professional actor/musicians using masks and puppets.

With more than 41 years of history, Axis Theatre’s original works have toured world-wide, enriching school curriculums, drawing children into stories, and giving them access to ideas in new ways.

Enjoy this latest story Sunday, Jan. 15 at 11 a.m. at UVic’s Farquhar Auditorium.

Tickets are $15.50 to $22.50 from 250-721-8480, www.tickets.uvic.ca or in person at the University Centre.

Virtuosic violist, composer visits UVic

Hailed as “an artist of commanding and poetic personality,” Seattle-based violist Melia Watras performs Jan. 20 for the UVic School of Music’s Orion Series in Fine Arts.

Professor of Viola and Chair of Strings at the University of Washington, Watras is a composer and founding member of the celebrated Corigliano Quartet.

Watras will be joined by Michael Jinsoo Lim, Pacific Northwest Ballet Concertmaster and violinist of the Corigliano Quartet, in a recital featuring works by Hindemith, Mozart and Watras.

Enjoy the music from Friday, Jan. 20 at 8 p.m. in UVic’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, B-Wing, MacLaurin Building. Admission is free and all are welcome. This concert will also be broadcast live at www.finearts.uvic.ca/music/events/live.