Remembering Beau Dick:
There are some people you meet in life that you instantly relate to.
You instantly decide – I want to know more about that person.
I want to know where they are coming from.
I want to know their ideas and beliefs.
I want to learn from them.
Beau Dick was one of them.
A master Northwest Coast carver Dick destined for international stardom.
Beau died last year from complications of many ills. He was too young. He was only 61 .
I first met Beau 25 years ago, a towering figure, who projected a certain mysticism about him. A stern looking man but were it not for that impish smile and that twinkle in his eye.
We met at the Douglas Reynolds gallery in Vancouver, at an annual event the gallery hosted for clients and friends. The event was quite the show.
Major Northwest Coast artists always were there such as Robert Davidson and his wife – a who’s who of Northwest Coast artists.
And not only did they show up but they also performed their ancient ceremonies to song and dance.
After Beau finished his dance I walked up to him and introduced myself and we had one of those pleasant social chats.
Over the years we met several times, again at art shows.
Little did I know that it would be another 10 years before we would meet again.
And this time our conversation would last for hours.
So it was last year that Beau and I met again, a meeting set up by LaTiesha Fazakas, the owner of a small gallery specializing in Northwest Coast art.
The reason for my meeting with Dick was that he was going to be a guest on a podcast I had started, Cool Conversations.
The plan was to pick up Dick and I would take him to my apartment for the interview.
I picked up Dick outside his apartment and studio at UBC where he was on a fellowship teaching students the art of Northwest Coast art.
We talked enroute to my place to record our conversation.
To say it was fascinating was an understatement – Dick at first was reticent making small talk and then, lo behold, we connected.
He talked about his philosophy of life, his role of a native man growing up in a white society and the trials and tribulations he endured. He did not mince words. He was harsh in his criticism of white society and how it treated native people.
But true, and his remarks were not bitter towards while society but rather those of a philosopher King musing about the reality of the facts.
It was an exhilarating experience.
I felt like a disciple listening to my master teacher.
And listen I did – rarely asking a question.
When we got to the apartment it was my turn to ask the questions on my podcast – Cool Conversation.
We conversed for more than an hour – the longest interview I had ever done with any guest.
When we finished we talked some more and then it was time to drive Dick back to UBC.
On the way back he talked in a very animated way about mysticism, what he was trying to convey with his art.
For me it was a journey into the unknown. A world I knew nothing about and Dick opened it up for me to ponder, to think, to question what he had transmitted.
Just before we got to UBC he invited me to visit him at his studio-residence, a rare honour rarely bestowed by Dick.
I had all the intentions to go.
Several months later I was ready to visit.
But then that one fateful one morning I heard the terrible news – Dick had died the night before.
I was devastated on three levels.
The fact that he had died so young and I had lost a friend that I had really connected within a few hours.
The fact that I did not see the master at his best and in his own personal and professional environment – carving stories about man’s eternal quest to help and guide us into the mysteries of life and it’s meaning.
And the amazing interview I had done with him did not record properly – so I lost all the insights, the wisdom and the struggles and challenges he faced.
Remembering Beau Dick: Rest in peace Beau – it was a pleasure and an honour to have gotten to know you.