By Alex Dawkins
Posted in News, on June 03, 2020
This past spring we lost two prominent and highly influential First Nations jewellers. Both Gerry Marks and Val Malesku passed away in March of 2020, and both artists were close friends of the gallery. Val began working in silver and gold in 1981, and she apprenticed with renowned Haida artist Bill Reid. Her distinctive cut-out designs combined the classic with contemporary in Cree and Northwest Coast styles. Gerry was widely considered to be one of the best Northwest Coast technical engravers ever. His carving style was characterized by precise lines and minute detail. Every surface of his pieces were textured and perfectly finished. From polishing his metal before even beginning to engrave to preserving his exquisite tool marks rather than buffing them away, he was a perfectionist who took a great amount of time with every piece he created. Both artists were just recently featured in the landmark publication Understanding Northwest Coast Indigenous Jewelry.
Losing Gerry and Val within a few days of one another in March was very difficult. Val was like an aunt to me. Her spirit was beautiful and her positivity was unmatched. Gerry grew to be a great friend over the past five years, above and beyond a business relationship. Spending time hearing his music and looking at his paintings at his home are some of my fondest memories. I loved both Val and Gerry, and they will be greatly missed. – Peter Lattimer