A carving done by Gus Modeste that’s in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo submitted)

Condolences pour in after death of famous Coast Salish artist

World famous carving talents began under the guidance of high school teacher

Condolences have been pouring in for family members and friends following the death earlier this month of famed Penelakut Coast Salish artist Gus Modeste. He was 44.

Modeste had been living in Duncan in recent years to be close to doctors and the hospital while dealing with diabetes, heart problems and other health issues.

“A very talented artist,” said Penelakut band administrator Jim Chisholm. “I met him a few times, a real nice fellow.”

Modeste grew up on Galiano Island and spent a few years in Nanaimo before going to live with his dad on Penelakut and attended Chemainus Secondary School where he honed his craft as a carver.

“He got a lot of encouragement from Walter Stoochnoff, a teacher there,” said Modeste’s aunt Connie Crocker. “That’s where his life of carving began.”

Modeste also drew inspiration from carver Francis Horne. A totem Modeste did stands as a legacy at the entrance to the high school.

Along with Doug August of Cowichan, Modeste did carvings for the site marker and nose of the aircraft that was sunk off Chemainus 14 years ago on January 14, 2006 to become a diving reef.

His carvings and prints can be found all over the world, including Brussels, Belgium.

One of Modeste’s most loved works, known as Mother’s Love, is a powerful interpretation of orca J35 from the southern resident killer whale population and her offspring.

He also did magnificent canoe designs, including one for his own Penelakut village.

“He had such a natural talent for drawing and carving,” said Crocker. “It just really developed and it seemed to happen so easily. He was just so talented.

“I think about him personally, I never had a boring conversation with him,” she added. “He was always very interesting to talk to. He had pertinent things to talk about and he was also very funny.”

Comments poured in on social media as news of Modeste’s death spread.

“He opened my eyes to some of his views without effort,” noted Shane Harper. “I very much enjoyed some of his perspectives.”

He did phenomenal work,” Wes Bissett indicated.

Rainforest Arts on Willow Street in Chemainus is hoping some of his work will surface from his studio and proceeds of any sales will go to his family.

“He had a collection of work that he had been preparing,” noted Crocker.

“His work is a gift to the world,” added Kathy Wachs of the Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society. “His character was strong and sweet. Condolences to the many who love him.”

“He lives on through his art,” Hanna Miskiman remarked. “Condolences to the family.”

“This is such sad news,” offered Tammy Baines. “Gus was such a kind person and so talented.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A sample of Gus Modeste’s amazing art. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Totem pole inside Chemainus Secondary School at the entrance was carved by Gus Modeste. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Just Posted

Penticton Vees recognized on and off ice success

The awards were given out following their Saturday night win.

Dale family was prominent in Summerland’s past

Ruth Dale taught for many years

Penticton Vees comeback for overtime win to end regular season

The Vees were down 3-0 to start the third before putting together an epic comeback.

PHOTOS: Celebrating diversity in Penticton

Seventh annual OneWorld Festival celebrates the worlds of different cultures in the South Okanagan.

Fiery collision involving truck closes Highway 1 at Three Valley Gap

Drivers should expect major delays and congestion; estimated time of re-opening is 2 p.m.

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

First win, fifth win highlight BC Senior Curling finals

Donna Mychaluk wins first title after finishing second five times; Wes Craig takes fifth crown

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Kelowna Firefighters douse suspicious hedge fire

A 30’ section of cedar hedge burned prompting an RCMP investigation.

Kelowna RCMP make arrest in fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Elijah Beauregard

An 18-year-old woman is in police custody facing a manslughter charge.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read