Title: The Legend of the Spruce Tree
Print Size: 16 x 20 inches
Edition Size: 250 Signed & Numbered Prints - 10 Artist Proofs
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Original: $3,000

Portrait of Big Toe, a Narragansett elder and spiritual leader.  “Indian people are now going through a period of suffering and cleansing because many of us are not recognizing our original instructions,” says Big Toe. “We are not paying attention to the teachings of the grandfathers, to the trees, and rocks and to the spirit of other ancient life forms with whom we share this planet.”

Big Toe’s ancestors once occupied the lands we now call Rhode Island. There is a legend among his people about the spruce trees that grow in his homeland. Sometime after King Philip’s War there was a farmer in Rhode Island who had in his employ an old Narragansett who told him the truth about the spruce trees that grew on his land. “Each was sown from the blood of a Narragansett, shed at the hand of a white man,” the old Indian told him. This so infuriated the farmer that he at once took to chopping them all down. Ironically, he was killed in the process by a falling tree. The moral is that as long as the spruce trees grow in Rhode Island the spirit of the Narragansett’s will be alive there.

Gerry says that “Big Toe was a great help to me on my own spiritual path and so I wanted to incorporate this legend into his portrait. Originally, my plan was to portray him as part of a spruce tree, a limb if you will. Shortly before I started his portrait I saw him in a dream where he was holding a wand made from the branch of a spruce tree. From the wand hung four spruce leaves and at the top there was a small, glowing sphere, like a miniature sun, in which a tiny spruce tree was growing. Ribbons and a feather were attached to it. He stood before a large shield that had a design of the rocky coastline of Rhode Island on it. From the shield hung seven spruce leaves. I decided to portray him that way, as a contemporary symbol of the spirit of his people.”

This piece is actually two portraits, related in spirit; one drawn from life, one from a dream. Together they tell a story, through legend, of the struggle of a people and their capacity to survive.