Thunder Bay, Ontario, has many attractions. One of the best, especially in summer, is the Thunder Bay Country Market. We go there in July for the fresh Belluz strawberries, or later for the sweet corn, local tomatoes and other locavore treats.
But one of the best reasons for going will nourish your spirit instead of your body. It’s the art of Kevin Belmore, whose Ojibwe name is Minowewegabow. Roughly translated, this means “standing free,” and it describes him well because of his independent outlook. Kevin is a disciple of the late Roy Thomas, who in turn was inspired by Norval Morrisseau. Morrisseau fostered the Woodland School, an interpretation of Ojibwe art and spiritual tradition now practiced by several First Nation artists of the upper Great Lakes region.
Kevin works mainly with acrylics in bright contrasty colors and sharp lines representing wild creatures, real and fabled, often like images found in pictographs and petroglyphs of the area’s rocky shores. He seeks to stress life’s positives, while expressing abstract meaning with a shaman’s integrity.
Kevin also does murals, logos and special design work for the region’s colleges, publications and Ojibwe bands.
Farmer’s markets are always appealing, especially during the summer and fall harvest, but the Thunder Bay Country Market deserves special attention because it encourages area arts and crafts, adding an element of surprise for folks who stopped for potatoes, cucumbers, blueberries or squash.
The Country Market is at the Dove Building on the grounds of the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition off Memorial Avenue in Thunder Bay. Kevin shows his work Saturday mornings. In summer the market is also open Wednesdays from 4:00 ‘til 7:00.
The first time we encountered Kevin we admired one of his acrylics but said we’d “think about it” while wandering through the maze of exhibits and stands. When we returned to buy it, the painting had been sold. “No matter,” said Kevin, “I’ll make one like it with one bird for each member of your family.” He had it waiting for us the following Saturday.
It’s now hanging above our fireplace. Whenever someone asks about it, it’s fun to say, “It’s by our friend Kevin Belmore of Thunder Bay. It’s an original he painted just for us!”
Donn Larson is one of Lake Superior Magazine's editorial advisors.