– to be a Canadian Indian
- “In 1997 at the McMichael Gallery, that Bear Dance ceremony that Mr. Robinson mentioned, that was my initiation for taking responsibility for the continuation of the Woodland School of Art, which is a school of art that NM created himself. In other words, the style of art that Morrisseau created didn’t exist before Morrisseau created it. Um, there are hundreds of native artists that have been spawned from, from this, and I am one of them.” (Court Trans/Otavnik v Sinclair: OvsS Mar 18, 2010 – p159)
Ritchie Sinclair is a longtime acolyte and business associate of Donald Robinson of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries, where he has been a private dinner guest, made video presentations, done guided tours, been praised in KRG blogs, thanked as an authority in Donald Robinson’s “expert” reports, etc. They have been “tag team” partners, and the only witnesses on the losing side, in several court cases (Otavnik v Sinclair 2010, Hatfield v Child 2012) where they have sought, unsuccessfully, to convincingly represent the Conspiracy Theorist position. (The partners have already agreed to join up for more joint court performances in 2013).
My Take: Perjury, Delusion, or Dementia?
Sinclair has repeatedly, directly and indirectly, tried to foist on court judges – like on Judge Godfrey above – and on the public, his pretence that he is a Canadian Indian.
It all began in September 2008, a year after Norval died. (He didn’t dare do it while the artist was alive.)
Thereafter Sinclair, disguising himself with his pseudo-Indian nick-name “Stardreamer” would never, ever again, write his own name without putting Norval’s name, and his personal association with him, immediately ahead of his own.
Left a poster where Sinclair and Mark Anthony Jacobson – a fellow “enforcer” for the Conspiracy Theorists, and the operator of the second most vile website in Canadian history – had a one night showing.
In this way this white dude from downtown Toronto hoped to ride on Norval’s coattails to financial glory, as the world came to celebrate Canada’s top Aboriginal artist.
On Aug. 26, 2008, Sinclair emailed Ugo Matulic, asking him to publicize him and his new business initiative to link his name to Norval’s.
“Attached is an ad for my new show (Hope you can attend!). I’d love it if you chose to post it. Here is some writing about my “using Norval’s name” to promote my career that you can also post if you wish.
“In my new Exhibition, “Spirit,” I am capitalizing on Morrisseau’s name and fame, however my motive for doing so is not financial…
“Norval fully supports this initiative, as do other First Nations elders. When “$” people question the integrity of “using his name” I’ll just say that I’m doing my job, just as Norval wished me to. He wants me to “use his name”! For Stardreamer the “emergence” begins on September 6, 2008, at the Scollard Street Gallery (112 Scollard Street in Toronto).” (Matulic Archive)
How Norval communicated his “support” is part of Sinclair’s “sham-man-istic” mystery; he’d been dead for a year, at least…
In fact Sinclair is totally, in every way, simply a white Indian imposter/impersonator trying to appropriate a uniquely ethno-cultural art form, which is among the very few in the world that is totally a one-of-a-kind Canadian Indian invention, and a mode of cultural expression entirely their own.
Unlike French Impressionism, the Canadian Group of Seven, the Surrealists, etc. the Woodland AKA Anishinaabe school of art is DNA centered – unique to Canadian First Nations who alone, created this novel mode of artistic expression. Period. Totally without the help of white self-promoters like Ritchie Sinclair.
Just like a man, no matter how many girdles and silk stockings he puts on, can never become a legitimate stand-in, or be a believable spokesperson for what it is like to be a woman, so no white artist – like Sinclair – can ever stand in for Canadian Indians and claim to be a legitimate voice of the Anishinaabe school of painting.
It is why art collectors will not buy Inuit art made by white men, African drums made in China, or Woodland (Anishinaabe) art made by Ritchie Sinclair. He will always be a white dude in downtown Toronto, no matter how many Indian names he appropriates, or how often he dresses up in his Davy Crockett buckskin jacket, and mumbles Indian chants and mumbo-jumbo to try to disguise the fact that he not only lacks the DNA, but the entire cultural and historical background that gives the school its cachet and resonance for collectors.
Sinclair has used his Indian disguise for years, just to try to sell his art. Without success; it could never be otherwise.
Hell, everyone knows that “Stardreamer” is only a “Daydreamer” pursuing a totally dead end art form for him, as a white man.
We have so far failed to find a gallery that shows his Indian art. Here are some of the galleries who have definitely turned him down, and declined his request to become an agent for selling his art: Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Liss Gallery, and Artworld of Sherway.
It could make a guy sort of angry; very angry… and sort of want to strike out…
In 2004 numerous works of his – many were giant panels of original art – went to auction, after being sold off for nonpayment of storage locker fees – in Port Hope, Ontario. They sold for $25, $55, and $65 each.
In 2010 we visited the Lane Gallery – a neighbor of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries – just weeks before it went bankrupt.
In its front window it boasted an exhibition of Ritchie Sinclair’s art.
When we inquired, as interested customers, from the gallery owner, about the background of the artist, Ritchie Sinclair, was he white or what?
He replied, “Oh no, he’s of Aboriginal background.”
Now where would a gallery owner learn that except from the artist who provided him his fabricated bio along with his paintings?
Sinclair had already told Court Judge MD Godfrey, that he was an Indian artist. So here we are again…
This is the second gallery we know of, that Sinclair closed down when he was the featured artist.
The first was the Scollard Gallery, in October 2008, where he first tied his name to that of Norval Morrisseau.
If Norval was speaking from beyond – as Sinclair seems to imply – was he sending Sinclair a message?
Like maybe: “close the show Ritchie; cut the crap…”
Sinclair’s exhibitions have been the death knell for two galleries we know of. When they start showing Canadian Indian art by a white man, they are in their death throes. It’s not rocket science. No serious collector of any kind wants the stuff.
The Scollard Gallery, which closed permanently, shortly after Sinclair’s show opened, posted a fond farewell notice on the internet, thanking a long list of artists it was proud to have been associated with over the years.
Ritchie Sinclair the white Indian imposter/impersonator is not among them.
Within a matter of hours of the closing of his Scollard show Sinclair went ballistic, launching numerous physical assaults against neighbouring Morrisseau dealer Joe McLeod, yelling that he was going “to take down the whole Morrisseau market.”
The police later arrested him and charged him for multiple instances of Criminal Harassment of 80 year-old McLeod, on the street, at Joe’s car, his place of business, and his home. Once even setting off the burglar alarm, at 2:00 in the morning.
- Sinclair then put up his notorious malicious website which has done more to destroy valuations in Canadian Indian art than anything since the Canadian government attacked the art and cultural regalia associated with the potlatch of the Kwakwaka’wakw ceremonies at Alert Bay, BC in the 1920s.
Sinclair is in good company, with a long list of other bad white dudes who have gone out of their way to make Canada an unhappy and inhospitable place for people of Aboriginal background.