Category Archives: Benjamin Chee Chee


Photo of Benjamin Chee Chee - not dated

Benjamin Chee Chee was born in 1944 at Temagami  and died by his own hand at the age of 33, in 1977 at Ottawa.

Like several other First Nations artists, his  death occurred just as he was coming into prominence as an artist, so we are left with a small body of work and lots of questions as to what direction his future output would have taken.


Unlike most other First Nations artists of his time, he denied the interpretation that he was painting from the viewpoint of First Nations’ spirituality. It is clear though, that despite living in large southern Canadian cities since 1965, his artistic vision still resonated with the images of northern wildlife.


Chee Chee was very much a painter of his time, and in many of his works appeared to be contrasting how use of limited colour palette and voids would affect the ideas of movement. His series of Canada Geese paintings used just three colours – black, ochre and the background colour of the canvas. We can watch the sparingly applied colours move to different areas of the canvas while the feeling of motion is clear to us.


Gradually he also explored adding more colours to that mix and  expanding the areas on which he was placing pigments. 


His “Dancing Goose” although seeming to explore less colour yet, in actual fact is a subtle blend of many shades of lighter, very warm sienna pigment.


And again, he tries adding more colour but not necessarily covering more area….. well. maybe a little bit more! His use of subtle colour is masterful, isn’t it?



Next, maybe a little more colour yet; and another departure – one figure seen in front of another. The fire and burning sticks are still a little stylized but less so than the bird which is almost phoenix-like arising from the flame……



Another aspect of exploring the use of voids and solids on a canvas – until this one, Chee Chee’s birds had all been lines with small amounts of pigment laid down. Now we see him filling in the bodies with shading and cross hatchings – a departure, and a very successful one at that.



And lastly: Running Goose is solidly filled in with pigment  – a rich golden brown. This exciting print is currently in Mich’s inventory. Email him to enquire about purchase. 

As I was exploring more and more sites that I turned up in my search I found this great site, that celebrates the life north of Hwy17 in Ontario. This is an area I loved when I lived in Ontario (Janet talking here) and is the Canadian Shield country where Mich grew up.

Since Mich also is into guitars and making music as well as art, I think he will enjoy Don Charbonneau’s site – Don is a songwriter who has a deep and enduring love for the north – read some of his stories and listen to his songs at

He covers a lot of ground on that one page and in doing so talks about several First Nations artists from the area, as well as Tom Gallant a singer/songwriter from my home province.

During these last dog days of summer, I’ll be exploring the output in more depth of several of our Canadian First Nations and Inuit artists and I hope you follow along with me. I learned a lot today and I think broadened my experience of Chee Chee’s work, I’m looking forward to exploring other greats of the last generation.

See you next week – Janet(east coast) and Mich(west coast)



Father’s Day Suggestions – a quick rundown of RedKettle’s current inventory

With Father’s Day coming up in just a week it’s a good time to give you a rundown of RedKettle’s current inventory. There is a fine selection of works by both First Nations artists and other Canadian artists, and prices range upwards from several pieces priced well below $300. Surprise your dad with a gift that will provide pleasure over the years.


Below is an acrylic on canvas 24×30 unframed, by Corinna Ray to be shipped rolled in a mailing tube

Bear by Corinna Ray, acrylic on canvas 24x30 unframed

And another by Corinna Ray, also unframed acrylic 24×30, also shipping rolled in a mailing tube,  called Caribou

Corinna Ray - Cariboo 24x30 acrylic on canvas unframed

An artist’s proof by Robert Genn is shown above – a calm soothing print that will look great hanging in your home, it is called Bright Passage and is triple matted archivally and behind glass. In pristine condition, it measures 16×20 image only, and 22×28 including mats and frame – wooden frame – a quality presentation!



Another pleaser – a watercolour by George Rae Menendez sized at 14×20


Trees - a lovely oil on canvas - Arnold Shives, RCA

 Shives is an established and highly regarded artist who lives and works in Vancouver

Benjamin Chee Chee - Running Goose

I was very pleased to find a pair of lovely Chee Chee prints – they have the same print number and are similarly framed, so it appears they were from the same collection

Benjamin Chee Chee - Standing Goose

This impressively large and strong image below  by Isaac Bignell is waiting for the new owner whose home or office can comfortably display this piece – it will make a stunning focal point.

Isaac Bignell: A New Tomorrow - acyrlic on canvas 54x60


Medecine Fox by Carl Ray

 Just back from the framers and a strong and energtic piece, this Carl Ray is ready to hang in your home – this piece is fresh to the market, having been in the artist’s family for many years

James Leslie - Haida Ceremonial Mask - Bella Coola Raven

 This ceremonial mask by artist James Leslie is one of my favourite pieces – I will be sorry to see it go to its new home.

To discuss purchase or ask for further details, contact
Until the next time – Mich


Benjamin Chee Chee - print - Standing Goose"

Mich emailed last evening to tell me his three new acquisitions had arrived and that he had them unpacked and hanging on the walls in his house.

He recently purchased two lovely Benjamin Chee Chee prints, which he suspects were purchased together, as they are both numbered 67/150 and have the same high quality, archival framing – non reflective, non UV glass, and acid free double matts – the frame itself is black wood.
The prints measure as follows – Running Goose, 17×25; and Standing Goose 17×27.
The framing alone for each of these lovely prints is worth several hundred dollars at today’s prices, and they are ready to hang on your wall, perhaps as the start of your collection of Canadian First Nations’ Art.
 Contact Mich to discuss acquiring the pair, or to acquire  the one you prefer. (

Benjamin Chee Chee - print - Running Goose

PRICE: $1000  for the pair or $600 singly + shipping

The third picture in today’s post is of “Trees” an oil on canvas by Arnold Edward Shives, RCA who was born in 1943. Mich tells me he is an accomplished climber in addition to being a very collectible artist with a strong following on the West Coast. He resides in Vancouver.
This painting has a depth of feeling, loads of technical skill and a soothing, contemplative style which will make it easy to live with while enhancing the ambience of whatever room you decide to place it in.

Arnold Edward Shives - Trees - oil on canvas 18x24

PRICE: $995 framed, plus shipping
 Father’s Day is fast approaching – maybe Dad deserves some fine Canadian art to hang on his wall? Great gift idea for the guy who has everything, with great themes borrowed from nature and the Canadian experience.

Contact Mich to discuss purchase of any of these great fresh new pieces!

Mich and I both want to thank you all for the mny inquiries that have been received recently and the many positive comments about the blog. Many thanks!! Janet and Mich

Until later…….



Benjamin Chee Chee – Gouache on Heavy Paper – Canada Goose

Benjamin Chee Chee 18×24 gouache on heavy paper, signed and dated 1975

I hope you enjoyed a great weekend and are refreshed and ready for what the week will bring. One thing it brings is the close of Heffel’s Fine Art Auction on Thursday – only three days away. If you’re thinking of bidding on this lovely Chee Chee of mine which they have listed, go over to:  and check out the details. This is perhaps his most graceful Canada Goose and is a serene and lovely image, suitable for display anywhere in your home or office.

Make sure to take a look and bid in time!

Have a great week and contact me should you need further info on this or any other work I have in my inventory.  Also keep in mind, if you are thinking of selling any of your art, that I am in need of inventory, having successfully sold most of my stock. Contact me – – if you are thinking of selling.

Until next time – Mich!!!

Benjamin Chee Chee gouache at Heffel Auction

Pictured below is a very graceful Benjamin Chee Chee gouache  featuring one of his “signature” Canada Geese. I’ve owned and sold many Chee Chees over the years, but I think this one is my favourite. I am offering it through Heffel’s Fine Art Auctions in their online auction accepting bidding right now.

The above gouache is 18×24 inches. It is on heavy paper signed and dated 1975 and unframed.

Check Heffel Auctions catalogue page featuring this work.

 –  it is part of their online auction and currently for bids. Auction will close on March 31, 2011 but be sure to check the closing time, as recently there has been a change in their online auctions so that closings are staggered in groups rather than all taking place simultaneously. Make sure you know exactly when each auction closes – you don’t want to miss an opportunity!

This very lovely piece of art has a serene air about it and will be striking in your home or office. A Chee Chee is definitely an investment, as well as a lovely piece of art to own. I have mixed feelings about letting this one go!

Hope you had a lovely weekend and that you’re looking forward to a great week, no matter what you have planned!  Mich

Another Benjamin Chee Chee!

I was absolutely thrilled to recently acquire this Benjamin Chee Chee gouache. (Dated 1975, size 16x22inches)

Chee Chee, in the mid 1970’s began a series he is said to have called his “bennie birds” in which, using the elegant lines of the Canada Goose, he explored and played with the concept of using negative space and minimalist lines and colour to express the essence of this large and ubiquitous bird which is so fixed in the Canadian (and especially the First Nations) psyche.

I think this one is my favourite by far as the sense of movement and the spare but flowing lines establish a bird roosting on the ground, but stirring its wings to take off again. I seem to hear the beat of wings and the honking high in the air in the cold Canadian dusk which heralds yet again the migration of the geese ahead of the coming winter.

Questions? Contact me


Benjamin Chee Chee – gouache and india ink 18×24

Chee Chee - a rare acquisition

Today I want to show you a recent acquisition. This print  is gouache and india ink on paper (18×24)and is signed and dated 1975.  There are faint stencil lines visible and some gaps in the india ink.

The work is professionally framed with archival quality mat.

The simple and joyful lines are more than enough to tell us a story and reflect Chee Chee’s drive to  paint wildlife important to the First Nations traditional way of life using modern and minimalist concepts.

I won’t say a lot here about Chee Chee’s short and turbulent life before he committed suicide while in police custody just two short years after this print is dated. The story is well documented elsewhere, and I will simply give you the URL’s where the whole story is told.

Like so many other young native people of promise, Chee Chee was unable to overcome the emotional damage from his early years and the marginalization of his entire nation, and it is nothing short of amazing that despite all the chaos he lived in, he was able to produce a significant body of work.

He spent almost his entire life in a quest to find his lost mother and managed to achieve that goal just two months before his death.