When Jennifer Pelton and Alison Taylor were considering a piece of art for their new office on Fourth Street, they didn’t have to look very far.
“I came across Maynard Johnny Jr.’s work and was blown away,” explains Pelton, one of two partners in the Duncan law firm of Taylor Pelton.
Fortunately, Johnny is a Coast Salish artist with deep roots in the Cowichan Valley and he jumped at the chance to provide a piece of art for Taylor Pelton. The work he created is called Reawakening.
“I like this title for the idea of reviving old traditions in a modern world bridging gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous and creating a new way to work with each other by learning more about each other,” explains Johnny who lists Robert Davidson, Art Thompson and local legend Simon Charlie among his mentors and influencers.
“In this case, (it’s about) the law from your experience and the culture from an Indigenous perspective and how the two can work together to build a better understanding for future generations.”
Taylor says the firm wanted to include some additional First Nations art in the office.
“We have a lot of First Nations clients and we want to make them feel welcome and that they matter,” Taylor said.
The colourful 36” x 48” painting featuring a Thunderbird and a Whale adorns one wall in the new law office that the lawyers moved into in late 2018.
Mostly self-taught, Maynard Johnny Jr. has been studying art and working at his passion since the age of 17. Principally involved in graphic work, he also creates silver and gold jewelry. As well he works with wood and has created award winning masks and paddles.
“I’ve learned by doing. I’ve studied old Salish pieces which is the most unique style of design on the West Coast,” Johnny explains.
Among his accomplishments was being commissioned to design an eight foot by three foot sculpture of a salmon that was donated to the World Trade Centre in New York to honour those lost in the 9/11 tragedy.