Allen Sapp was born on the Red Pheasant Reserve in northern Saskatchewan. While still a youngster his grandmother Maggie Soonias encouraged him to paint and was the inspiration for many of his paintings. Every decade of his paintings portray a personal kind of realism, the result of his knowledge and involvement with everything he paints—the people, the landscape and the animals.
Allen has been recognized nationally and internationally for his paintings of life on the northern plains as well as works depicting the culture of his people, the Cree. In 1975, he was honoured by election to membership in the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Since then, he has been acknowledged not only for his painting abilities but also because of his contributions to society, as a man proud of his Indian ancestry, his culture, and his Cree language. He was named Officer of the Order of Canada (1986), was one of the first recipients of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit (1985) and was honoured by the Saskatchewan Arts Board with the Lifetime Award of Excellence in the Arts (1996). As well, Allen received an honorary doctorate from the University of Regina (1998) and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Aboriginal Awards (1999).
A number of books have been published with his illustrations or reproductions of his paintings. Numerous film documentaries relating to his life and artwork have also been produced. In 1994, Kiskayetum—Allen Sapp, A Retrospective, opened at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina and toured a number of galleries in Canada, including the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Many of Allen’s paintings portray the culture and life of the Cree people, including Powwows and other activities, while others depict people involved in cutting wood in the bush, children playing hockey outdoors on small patches of ice or his grandmother feeding the chickens. He has managed to capture the beauty of a prairie winter sunset, the white glistening snow on a cold winter day or the dull grey sky in November.
Allen’s work is represented in major private and corporate collections throughout the world as well as in the permanent collection of the Allen Sapp Museum in North Battleford, Saskatchewan.
– Press –
Arabella Magazine, Spring 2013
“Reviews,” Galleries West Magazine, April 2010
“Body of Work,” Winnipeg Free Press, June 18, 2009
“Real, Live Legend,” Leader-Post, June 13, 2006
“Views of a Generation,” StarPhoenix, May 25, 2005
“When Allen Sapp Paints the Past, His ‘Nokum’ Guides His Hand,” Edmonton Journal, October 15, 2004
“Allen Sapp Honoured for Art Work,” Leader-Post, November 12, 2003
“Cree Artist Wins Governor General's Award,” National Post, November 11, 2003
– Publications –
Nokum is My Teacher by David Bouchard, Red Deer Press, 2006
Through the Eyes of the Cree and Beyond by Allen Sapp, A. Sapp Gallery, 2005
The Song Within My Heart by David Bouchard and Allen Sapp, Raincoast Books, 2002
I Heard the Drums by Allen Sapp, Stoddart Publishing, 1996
Two Spirits Soar by W.P. Kinsella, Stoddart Publishing, 1990