By Shari Narine
Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
September 8, 2016.
Alex Janvier’s mosaic in Ford Hall is being billed as one of the highlights of Rogers Place.
On Sept. 10, tens of thousands will get the first inside view of the building that is the new home to the Edmonton Oilers, located in the heart of the city’s downtown.
Janvier's epic 1,600 square-foot mosaic is entitled Tsa Tsa Ke K'e (Iron Foot Place). It took one year to make, six weeks to install and is one of four public art commissions in the downtown arena area, worth a total of $1.6 million.
“The design is flowing, it looks beautiful from up on top,” said Janvier, who had a chance to view its completion from the very top floor. “It turned out better than I had envisaged it.”
Janvier has high praise for the workers who assembled the mosaic.
“They had to cut every piece,” he said. “They were putting it together in various sections.”
Janvier says his mosaic “paid honour” to the Cree as Edmonton is located in Cree territory.
“That’s very essential, very important,” he said, adding that his art piece draws on the colours that are natural to the region. “It’s a tribute to the Cree nations, a tribute to the fur trade, a tribute to what became of it, a major centre for human beings of all walks of life.”
Rogers Place is only one of a multitude of venues in which Janvier’s work has been displayed including his own art gallery on Cold Lake First Nations, which he opened in 2012. In November, Janvier’s work begins a five-month exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada.
Janvier, of Dene Suline and Saulteaux descent, is one of the Indian Group of Seven. He is considered a significant pioneering Aboriginal artist in Canada, having influenced many generations of Aboriginal artists.
Rogers Place is only one of a multitude of venues in which his work will be permanently displayed.
“I don’t know how effective it’s going to be, but it’s certainly going to be seen by a whole lot more people,” said Janvier.
Jenna Turner, with the Edmonton Art Council, says a plaque will be put in place identifying Janvier as the artist for Tsa Tsa Ke K'e. As well, this weekend’s tour-goers will receive a brochure that will include information on Janvier.
While Janvier is proud of this newest work, he still draws comparison to Morning Star (Gambeh Then’). Painted in 1993, it adorns the dome of the River Salon in the Canadian Museum of Civilization, in Ottawa. The mural rises seven stories above the salon and covers 4,500 square feet.
“It was an honour to do the work (at Rogers Place),” said Janvier. “But I didn’t take it any more serious than Morning Star. That’s big, that’s huge. That one is seen by all nations, all over the world. They marvel at it. I hope this piece will do the same thing. I know this one they’ll talk about it.”
And more than anything else, when people look at Janvier’s Rogers Place mosaic, he wants them to take away “joy and happiness …. Just to see it, to enjoy the beauty from within the area.”
The official opening for Rogers Place is Thursday afternoon.
Alex Janvier's mosaic entitled Tsa Tsa Ke K'e (Iron Foot Place).