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A Man Will Be Coming For This Wood Tomorrow
My Grandfather's Place at Red Pheasant
winter scenes, everyday life, reserve, life on the reserve, winter, Saskatchewan winter, landscape, snow-covered landscape, frozen moments in time, moments in time, pink twilight sky, simpler life, impressionistic, cultural, historical, accessibility, bridges between people, contemporary art, What is art? Narrative, history, visual storytelling, sleigh, horses, dog, logs, woodlands

In these two works from the Mendel Art Gallery collection, Sapp presents winter scenes of everyday activities on the Red Pheasant Reserve. The titles also have a matter-of-fact tone to them.

In A Man Will Be Coming For This Wood Tomorrow and My Grandfather’s Place at Red Pheasant Sapp captures the eerie light of Saskatchewan winter skies. In A Man, horses haul a load of logs across the snow-covered landscape, through an aspen grove, under a pale blue sky. In My Grandfather’s Place a pink twilight sky hovers over the  landscapeA painting, photograph or other work of art which depicts scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers and forests. There is invariably some sky in the scene. ( Landscape is also a term that may also refer simply to a horizontally-oriented rectangle, just as a vertically-oriented one may be said to be oriented the portrait way. (  as another log-driver nears home, greeted by a horse and rider, and a dog.

start quoteSometime people say I have painted too many winter scenes,..but nobody says the Group of Seven painted too many landscapes.end quote-- Allen Sapp

The scenes depict moments frozen in time, providing viewers with a window into specific events and a specific culture, the Woodland  CreeThe largest group of First Nations in Canada, and part of the Algonquian language family. See the Canadian Encyclopedia for more information:  of north-central Saskatchewan. Because they portray life in a simpler time, and, at first glance, in a simplistic way, they could be regarded as exercises in nostalgia. However, a closer examination reveals that Sapp has left out some details and fine textures to create paintings that are deliberately impressionistic and simple.

Dean Bauche, the director of the Allen Sapp Gallery, says Sapp has, “distilled the event down to the essential elements that resonate with us as human beings.” (Polkinghorne, 2006) Elders, Bauche adds, see layers and layers of cultural and historical information when they view the paintings. The cultural depth of Sapp’s works, combined with their accessibility, lets the paintings act as a bridge between peoples, Bauche believes.

Bob Boyer, who curated a major  retrospectiveAn exhibition of work by a senior artist representing all the stages of the artist’s career.  of Sapp’s work that toured Canada in 1994 and 1995, said the show was designed to change people’s perceptions of Sapp. “For a long time, critics and academics have refused to accept his work as quality  contemporaryCurrent, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. (  art. I think what has happened is that most curators and critics of 20th century art see angst as a measure of a work’s value. Allen’s work doesn’t display angst, it’s very comforting. It is beautiful work.” (Dafoe, 1995)

additional resources Things to Think About
  • Sapp’s friend Bob Boyer once said that because Sapp is so reserved he’s an easy target for people who take an anthropological approach to his work. That is, they assess him based on his cultural background, rather than on the merits of his work. What do you think is a good way to judge a work of art?
  • It is only in the past three decades or so that Aboriginal art has been shown in galleries, rather than in museums. Many Aboriginal artists advocated for this change, and see this shift from museums into galleries as significant. What do you think? Why do you think this is viewed as a significant event?
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Activities around collecting, cutting and storing wood were recorded by several artists, including Lawren Harris.  The following websites show many examples of artwork related to these activities.

  • The following links include information on early farming and local history
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Through his artwork Allen Sapp has recorded stories and events he remembers about life when he was young.

Sapp was born in 1928 on the Red Pheasant Reserve. Later in his life, he made paintings about his family and the life in his community. He painted these largely from memory. His paintings show that he has remembered events, activities and places in great detail, and they inform us about a different time in rural Saskatchewan. Do you think that our life in the early 21st century will seem different or strange in fifty years time? Would you be able to remember details without looking at photographs and the Internet?

Using memory as an aid to create art

Think about a place you have visited often, or a task that you do every day.  Describe it in writing or drawing  with as much detail as you can. How accurate is your memory?

For a picture of Allen Sapp, the man, go to the website for the Aboriginal Achievement Award Recipients at:

Become a historian

  • In his paintings, Allen Sapp shows us that cutting and storing wood for heating and cooking was a common everyday task when he was young. What skills do you think you would need if this were your job?
  • Lots of snowThink about an everyday task or chore that you do, that might be obsolete in the future. Describe this task in careful detail to a partner and ask your partner to draw what you have described. They should then do the same for you. Look at your pictures. If you were looking at these pictures in the year 2050, do you think you would be able to get a sense of what it was like to live in the early 2000's? Some examples of tasks you might choose to describe are washing dishes, vacuuming, making a sandwich, shoveling snow, or setting a table for dinner.
  • Imagine you are living on a Reserve or farm in Saskatchewan during the early 20th century. What do you think you would need to do to survive? What skills would you need? Make a “diary” of your daily tasks. Some of these tasks might include: (these are only examples– find others of your choice)
  • chopping wood
  • building your own house
  • caring for children
  • caring for horses
  • lighting a wood stove
  • making bannock
  • making things to trade for other things you need
  • thawing snow for water
Cutting wood Log Cabin Building a log cabin
  • Write and draw your diary using Allen Sapp’s paintings as research.  Here are some website links with more examples of Allen Sapp’s paintings for you to look at:
  • This is the site of the Allen Sapp Gallery where you will find activities related to his paintings:

Author unknown.  ‘Allen Sapp: Native Artist.’  Native Art in Canada.  Retrieved from the Internet on April 16, 2008 from:

Author unknown.  Allen Sapp’s Story.  Allen Sapp Gallery.  Retrieved from the Internet on April 16, 2008 from:

Author unknown.  ‘Sapp’s works portray a simpler time.’  Regina Leader-Post, October 16, 2001.

Author unknown.  ‘Allen Sapp honoured for art work.’  Regina Leader-Post, November 12, 2003.

Bauche, Dean.  ‘Sapp, Allen.’  The Canadian Encyclopedia.  Retrieved from the Internet on April 16, 2008 from:

Bauche, Dean, Lyndon Tootoosis and Lorne Carrier.  Through the Eyes of the Cree: The Art of Allen Sapp.  Exhibition catalogue.  Allen Sapp Gallery, North Battleford, Saskatchewan, 2005.

Brennan, Brian.  ‘Homage: Allen Sapp.’  Galleries West, Spring 2007.

Dafoe, Chris.  ‘Allen Sapp: communicating on canvas.’” Globe and Mail, January 16, 1995.

Newlands, Anne.  Canadian Art from its Beginnings to 2000.  Willowdale, Ontario:  Firefly Books, 2000.

Polkinghorne, Silas.  ‘Real, live legend.’  Regina Leader-Post, June 13, 2006.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning