by Kerstin Auer —

Nlaka’pamux artist Leonard George has lived on the Coldwater Reserve outside of Merritt for most of his life, but some of the influence for his contemporary art comes from well beyond the borders of the Nicola Valley. 

George credits his education and fine art degree from the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) for becoming an artist, and two of his teachers – Mary Longman and Isadore Charters – for shaping his dedication to art, but sees nineteenth century French artist Georges Seurat as one of the influences for his own contemporary style. Seurat is known to have devised pointillism, a technique of painting defined by contrasting dots of paint. 

Inspiration for his contemporary art comes from traditional basket designs and weavings of his heritage, and are brought to life as acrylic paintings that take up to a month to create. George translates both the patterns of woven baskets as well as the stories they tell into his art, taking care to use materials that don’t have a negative impact on the environment. He also draws inspiration from everyday objects, as can be seen in one of his latest paintings he created for the Beyond Still Life art show earlier this year, called Velvet Moon. 

“That is my take on objects you would have laying around your house daily and you wouldn’t even think of them as an art piece at all,” said George. “Putting them together and making a still piece of them kind of turns it into an art piece.” 

More recently, his medium of choice has shifted from acrylics to wire and metal. 

“Wire has become popular with me right now, I’ve been working on quite a few projects working with wire. When I do start a new project I make sure I learn everything I can from it. If I do wire work, I will be working on nothing but wire art. Finding out how the wire works and what wire I can use for an art piece,” shared George. 

Most of the pieces he creates are two-dimensional, including a series of dream catchers he would like to expand into an art show. 

“One show I want to do would be called ‘Industrial Dream Catcher,’ with all metal art,” added George.

His art can also be seen around town, as part of the city beautification project the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council oversees. After painting a school of salmon onto the Lion’s Park bridge last summer with a set of stencils he devised, George is now in the process of adding a mural to the outside wall of the washroom building in the same park.

Leonard George’s art can be found at the Nicola Valley Arts Centre as well as Coco’s Restaurant in the Railyard Mall, and his Dreaming Eagle Art Studio is located on the Coldwater Reserve. Connect with him via his Facebook page at facebook.com/DreamingEagleStudio.