Posts Tagged ‘james houston’

Artist of the moment….Akeeakshatuk

Akeeakshatuk was born in 1898  in what used to be called Port Harrison located in the Canadian province of Quebec. Akeeakshatuk was one of the original artists James Houston took under his wing and helped to promote the world to opening their eyes to the art of the Inuit people.

Akeeakshatuk died during a walrus hunting trip as he fell into the water and died in 1954.

Stories about the artist say he was happy and jolly and enjoyed capturing people. Akeeakshatuk used the traditional materials used by the Inuits, but on most occasions he includes at least two different mediums in his finished sculptures. So you might have a piece carved from whalebone, that also had some ivory incorporated in the piece as well. The ivory might be used as the teeth for walrus. The artist also enjoyed carving birds.

Mediums used: Black ochre, ivory, beads, sinew, antlers, whalebones, soapstone

He is my favorite carver of animals, the walrus pieces are spectacular for their use of mixed media and expression of  the animal captured perfectly.

Was among the first Inuit artists to achieve fame and recognition in the press appearing in the popular magazine Town and Country.

Artist of the moment……….James Houston

James Houston was the main figure involved in introducing new methods of art to the Inuit such as print making. Houston also helped to promote their artwork. In addition to being a great drawer and printmaker Houston was a skilled artisan when it came to glass.  James Archibald Houston was born in Toronto, Ontario in Canada in the year 1921.

Price range information: For the most part Houston produced prints such as woodcuts and lithographs which can be found for less than $1000. He also helped design glass and his most famous work is above in the gallery titled “Arctic Fisherman.” These works range $500 to $3000 for sophisticated limited edition works. Houston was a lead designer for Steubens glass.

Houston was able to mentor under the tutelage of Arthur Lismer whilst still a child. Lismer was renown teacher and advocated seeing the world through the eyes of a child. This would help Houston to become well respected author of children’s books. Below is an example of Lismer’s modernist style of painting.


For his collegiate studies Houston attended the Ontario College of Art, the Academy de la Grand Chaumiere in Paris, and also in Japan. The asian experience was key in developing his printmaking techniques which he would pass on to the Inuit peoples.

Tired of city life he went off in 1948 to find a great wilderness location to explore. He found it in a somewhat remote location in the Baffin Islands of Canada. He would go on to live with the Inuit people for years eating caribou and whale. Learning to live off the land and as a nomad. Eventually returning to the big city life Houston obtained a government grant to purchase some Inuit sculptures. The first show of  Eskimo art, a term later changed to Inuit art, was a grand success! A sell out!

Was married until 1962 to Alma Houston but the couple split and he went to New York to follow his dreams.

His book the White Dawn has been made into a feature length movie which he helped produce. A link for the film:

Below is an montage Houston’s artwork.

In this clip we  hear from James Houston in his own words what the experience was like after seeing the Inuit sculptures for the first time.

Houston passed away in 20905 at the age of 83 years old.

Houston was the author of a book titled ” The White Dawn.” Below is the cover of this novel.


Houston was not only a great artist, but also a great promoter of art. What a combination of skill sets to have. The annual market for Inuit art sales is between $10 and $12 million per year. A great boost to a people who have seen their main source of income the fur trade, fall for decades and decades.