During Paul-René’s youth in the 1960′s and 70′s he spent time learning with Woodland Indian artist such as Tom Two Arrows (Lenape/Onondaga) and Harold Tantaquidgen (Mohegan). These years were also spent with most of his available time in the newly developing “powwow circuit” in the Northeast which was inspired by Plains Indian style music and dance. During this time Paul-René sang with Ponca (Oklahoma) and Lakota (Northern Plains) style “drums” but feels most close to the music of northeastern singers from New York and Canada. Since then we have spent many years in the Northwest both on the Coast and Plateau and the Midwest cultural areas and have incorporated many cultural themes into our work.
Tom was very detailed in his art referencing our Northeastern culture. Once at a powwow in New York, Paul-René put together and wore a Cheyenne based Western Plains traditional outfit for dancing, as he had learned from some Indianist fiends who love to follow the Plains tradition of “Old style” dress. Without even looking up from his art work, Tom said: “So… are you Eastern or Western?” The Old time Western outfit was never wore again, our Eastern art & cultures have a lot our art too!
With mentors such as Tom Two Arrows Harold Tantaquidgen & Peter Smith Terry, as well as his 2 grandmother and great grandfather Paul-René was early on exposed to art as a multi-medium enterprise. His work incorporates many different aspects of this leaning.
THE PHOTO IS ONE OF PR HOLDING A WOOD BOW MADE BY TOM TWO ARROWS PAINTED IN HIS SPECIAL STYLE ADAPTING WOODLAND THEMES. PR - IN A SIMILAR WAY INCORPORATES VARIOUS THEMES AND MEDIA.
Paul-René’s first University experience was at Unity College in Maine where he had a work study assignment with the Maine Tribal Unity Museum and Cultural Center Director, Peter Smith Terry. It was here that a love and appreciation for ash splint and sweet grass baskets became strong – the Peter Smith Terry Collection was donated by Unity College in 2002 to Abbe Museum which is dedicated now to Wabanaki Nations https://www.abbemuseum.org/
Ralph "Porcupine" Bishop, Troy Maine, made this house to give to my mother in 1997. We are distant cousins and both worked with Peter Smith Terry in the Maine Tribal Museum and Cultural center before Peter's death in 1976. Ralph became inspired to make a living doing bark and quill work while with Peter, similar to the inspiration and encouragement given to Paul-René to pursue Northeastern art rather than that of other First Nations.
Just before Peter's death in 1976, he asked PR to become his Assistant Director. His death changed PR's life and goals, and lead to many moves. PR was living in tipi at that time on the museum property and was the only student in the Native American studies program. PR needed to leave but kept the inspiration he gained. Peter's favorite art form was weaving - including finger woven sashes which is something PR still teaches. A short book is being put together and will soon be available. Peter told me the only difference between him and I was he was ending his career and I was beginning it. I was 18 he was 63... now I am 62 & still inspired.
THE TIPI PICTURE IS THE ONE PR LIVED IN AT THE MUSEUM IN 1974-1976.