The Kampelmacher Memorial Collection of Indigenous Art
On view in the Orientation Gallery on 25 January 2019

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The Kampelmacher Memorial Collection of Indigenous Art, named in honour of Druyan's grandparents Wolf and Sala Kampelmacher, began in 1992 and is the product of the couple's commitment to engaging with artists and galleries that reflect the myriad of artistic expressions of Indigenous Art.

With a vision that expands beyond a singular geographical area or style, art aficionado Thomas Druyan and his wife Alice Ladner have embraced an incredible and eclectic view of North American art by artists of First Nations, Metis, Inuit, Native American, and Indigenous ancestry.

Assembled over the years, the collection has taken on deep personal meaning for its owners. These early purchases set the course for The Kampelmacher Memorial Collection and, according to Druyan, “started an obsession” for art!

The MacKenzie Art Gallery is grateful for the support of South Saskatchewan Community Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, SaskCulture, City of Regina, University of Regina, and Saskatchewan Arts Board.

Images: (left to right)  Allen (Ahmoo) Angeconeb (Canadian [Anishinaabe/Ojibway], born 1955), Wolves Looking Out of Den, 1984, silkscreen on paper, edition 57/93. Collection of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, gift of Thomas Druyan and Alice Ladner, the Kampelmacher Memorial Collection of Indigenous Art. Joane Cardinal-Schubert (Canadian [Káínawa], 1942–2009), My Mother's Vision: The Warshirt Series - I am Yelling for All Things on Earth - I am Screaming!, 1986, acrylic, oil pastel, and conte on paper. Collection of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, gift of Thomas Druyan and Alice Ladner, the Kampelmacher Memorial Collection of Indigenous Art. Ningeokuluk Teevee (Canadian [Inuit, Cape Dorset], born 1963) Legend of Qalupalik, 2011, lithograph on paper, edition 21/50. Collection of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, gift of Thomas Druyan and Alice Ladner, the Kampelmacher Memorial Collection of Indigenous Art. Pitalousie Saila (Canadian [Inuit, Cape Dorset], born 1942), Spring Morning, 2000, ink on paper. Collection of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, gift of Thomas Druyan and Alice Ladner, the Kampelmacher Memorial Collection of Indigenous Art. Qavavau Manumie (Canadian [Inuit, Cape Dorset], born 1958), Dark Fantasy, 2008, etching/aquatint on paper, edition 36/50. Collection of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, gift of Thomas Druyan and Alice Ladner, the Kampelmacher Memorial Collection of Indigenous Art.

A Passion for Collection: Thomas Druyan in his own words

I have always appreciated art. I enjoyed visiting museums and shows and buying exhibition catalogues and posters long before I started buying art. On the day I bought my first piece, I fell down the rabbit hole. I was surprised to discover that art was affordable, and was accessible to an ordinary person like me, not just to the Rockefellers and Thomsons. One piece led to another, and it soon became a passion—an obsession. Thankfully, it was an interest shared by my wife Alice Ladner. Alice joined in treks to galleries all over Canada and the northeastern U.S. We spent our first anniversary in Peterborough, Ontario, so that we’d be close to Whetung Gallery in Curved Lake, while a family camping vacation in Tobermory, provided an opportunity to explore galleries on Manitoulin Island. Meanwhile, for the past dozen years, we have been fortunate to live up north, which has allowed us to meet many leading Inuit artists. This personal contact with the artists (or their families) has enriched our appreciation of the art in our collection. Despite Alice’s repeated urgings to stop buying since there’s already way too much, she ends up agreeing that there’s still room for this or that specific piece.

As a collector, I decided to focus on art that was distinctively Canadian. In another era I might have chosen to focus on the Group of Seven or Emily Carr. Instead, I was drawn to art made by Indigenous artists. Fortunately, when I started collecting, there was a cornucopia from which to choose. In the early 1990s, there was an out-pouring of overtly political works related to the quincentenary of Columbus’ arrival. At the same time, the Woodlands School was well-established. And there were plenty of other artists who did not easily fit into any clear-cut categories. Finally, there was the whole area of art by Inuit artists. One thing that animates all of this art is its vitality and its immediacy. Ironically, over time, the collection moved beyond the border, and branched out into North American and Greenlandic works.

I am happy that our collection is going to reside at the MacKenzie Art Gallery, which has been a leader not only in showcasing works by Indigenous artists, but also in promoting Indigenous curatorship. In addition, the MacKenzie has an ongoing relationship with the University of Regina, and has an outreach program with schools and institutions across the province. Therefore, the works in our collections will be accessible to scholars and the public, rather than collecting dust in storage.

I am privileged to be able to donate our collection of art in blessed memory of my grandparents, Wolf and Sala Kampelmacher. Born in Poland in the early twentieth century, they grew up in poverty and discrimination, survived World War II in central Asia, and after suffering devastating family losses in the Holocaust, they returned to Poland to build a new life, and fled to Austria in the fall of 1968 when their hopes for a just society, free of intolerance and inequality, were shattered. Obtaining permission to immigrate in the spring of 1969, they chose Canada because it was a stable, peaceful country, welcoming to peoples of diverse religious and social backgrounds. Canada provided refuge to them and their family and an opportunity to their descendants, including me.