Some months ago, while I was trolling my neighborhood, I came upon a colourful Indian man who, with a 2 ft by 3 ft. canvas on his lap, was painting what can be called ‘medicine’. It was an image of an Orca killer whale with its medicine signature as background. People were standing around watching as he worked with great concentration until he pronounced it complete ready for selling. One of the onlookers pulled a $20 bill out of his pocket and came away with the whale on canvass. This was a gallery class painting literally given away for what will be a meal or two, often for the people who cluster about his encampment on the sidewalks.
Now there is history with this man. Turns out we are both bear tribe, he of the large white shaggy denizens of arctic regions, polar bear; while I am a Moresby Island so-named Spirit Bear. It did not take so very long for this rather older white woman and this Indian man who fits in the zone along with my kids to understand one another. He is younger than my son. There is kinship in our association. I can thank some of his Turtle Island cousins that I have know over years. They taught me to understand the native cultures that we nearly universally disdain.
Over the weeks and months while he was truly on the streets with a rolling pile of assorted goods, canvasses, paint supplies, mechanics tools, and over time, an assortment of bicycles, motorbikes, old appliances, machinery, castoff plain stuff as well as tools equipment, stoves and pots and pans, a lot of dirty clothes and that you-name-it kind of stuff that has become familiar with those hardy and crazy types who live homeless in an expensive world class city.
Vancouver does not deserve Rossetti!
He is world class like the city but he ranks with Picasso, Leonardo and Andy Warhol.
As I was cruising out there between rain showers, turning down Carrall Street today, I came upon a large mural that he painted on a building undergoing a total renovation. See the pictures here.
Please squint at the pictures made by my phone camera, not the greatest because of lens and other limitations of the device, you will see the genius and dedication of this guy. When you read the message you will also come upon his honor as a warrior in the expression of high regard and deep emotion concerning those parts of his life that are important to him.
“Nobody paid me to paint this. I painted it myself to remind me who I am an addict like many down here. I still have heart so people don’t tag.
My name is Edgar-Alan Rossetti: street artist. This mural is dedicated to my late daughter. She died in a house fire in Prince George 25 years ago to remind those who chose addiction like I did, It’s never too late to connect with loved ones no matter how long. Forgiveness comes with being a Dad, Mother, Brother, Sister, Son, Daughter. Please don’t be me. There’s people who love you no matter how hard. Don’t forget family.”
I have been saying to him, and to some of the other tribal people and their artistic establishments here in our locale, that those of us white folk do not know how much we need these people in our midst. These peoples lived on Turtle Island upwards of 40,000 years as stewards of the land practicing their ecology, soft foot prints on the dirt of our great lands. Let us now be a little humbled by the spiritual expression thriving here on some of the meanest streets in the entire ‘civilized’ world!
So, dear friends, what might we make of all this in our almost over sophisticated 21st century arrogance. To me it comes to the simplest equation for happiness, found in the lyrics of those now famous Beatles: ‘And in the end, the Love you take is equal to the Love you make.’ Blessed be!
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