Richard Krentz: Looking at the Stars
Richard Krentz, whose name is said ‘kwatam-us’ in the Coast Salish language of the Sechelt nation, is a man living in two dimensions: he is one of Canada’s foremost Aboriginal artists; he is also an entrepreneur who took on the mainstream economy on his own terms - and conquered it.
As an artist, Richard Krentz has specialized has won an international reputation as a leading carver of totem poles and other major pieces, as well as masks and his signature line of bentwood boxes. Richard was the instigator and organizer of a unique collaborative project that saw the world’s tallest totem pole made at the Victoria Commonwealth Games. He also makes jewelry- gold silver and platinum.
Richard’s earliest memory is lying in his mother’s canoe, looking at the stars as she paddled across Blind Bay in the Shuswap region of British Columbia so she could dig for clams to feed her family.
Richard’s work is full of ancient symbols and uses the techniques of the Coast Salish peoples. Richard uses the cedar tree for totem poles, bentwood boxes as well as masks.
The cedar tree is used often in aboriginal art. From the giant cedar of the west coast rainforest comes a wealth of raw materials vital to the way of life art and culture of the First Nations people of the Northwest Coast.
The cedar tree has many uses. From the wood, skilled artisans made canoes, large post-and-beam houses, monumental carved poles that declared history, rights and lineage, and powerful dance masks. Women wove the inner bark into mats and baskets, plied it into cordage and netting or processed it into soft, warm, water-repellent clothing. They made the strong inner tendons into rope and used the roots into baskets that were watertight.
When asked to speak about his art Richard says,
"I thank the creator for leading me back to the forgotten gift of my talent. As a young man, I foolishly let the gift slip from my hands and ran after things that were not fitting for me. Now I have come back to the path that leads where I need to go. My art and my faith have restored to me the same quiet sureness that enfolded me all those years ago as I watched the stars and heard my mother's song."