Friday, April 9, 2010


This post features a great artist that I have the pleasure and fortune of knowing. His name is Ahnahnsisi. He is a Woodland artist, this is the name of his style of native artwork, but I think there are many other forces at work here as well. The way in which this man became a painter and sculptor is perhaps the strangest tale of all I have known and I will do my best to convey it to you, my faithful seventeen followers. About ten, no twelve, years ago, I was a young, broken-hearted woman who had moved to the city of Vancouver, British Columbia to find that elusive thing we call Self. I thought that Self must be hiding there, because it was such a cool city. Therefore, being so cool, my Self must be there somewhere. I searched in laundromats, coffee houses, parks, bars and nightclubs. I even searched in college for a year or so. While I was doing all this searching, I happened to land myself upon the available couch of my cousin Sherrie, a woman who deserves her very own blog entry, or perhaps an entire novel, so I will delve no further into her for the moment. Sherrie happened to be married to this guy, this half-Ojibwa, half-Scottish combination of hilarity and street smarts, whom I have known since I was ten, as Cousin Donnie. They weren't always married, they have a child, a girl child, Jake. Yes, a girl named Jake. Oh man, these posts are going to get out of control. Let's stick with Donnie. No, Ahnahnsisi. Back to him...

When I got to the city, famished and exhausted, he took me to get me something to eat. He picked me up (with little Jakey, who was wearing a tiara) at the bus station in a taxi, which I thought was very charming. I noticed he said, "Happy New Year," to everyone he met. He always asked receptionists how they were doing before he stated his business. Whether they were cabbies or lawyers, everyone got the same treatment. Most people, including myself, were very pleasantly surprised by this. In the ever increasingly cynical world in which we live, here was a smiling man who was wishing happiness and prosperity to everyone he met. Donnie showed me the ropes in that city. This is a falafel. That guy sells drugs. That guy sells ass. Yes, she's a hooker. Yes, a real one. This is an Americano, the lifeblood. That way to cheap breakfast. This way to cheap beer. I soaked it all in. Being a small town girl, he was giving me pearls and I knew it. I remember him taking me to the student union bar at UBC so I could check out cute guys with potential futures.
He was studying to be a lawyer, about to take the LSATs if I do recall, and then it happened: Donnie got hit by a bus. He said he was on his bike, parked, standing next to the bus stop and the driver came up fast to the stop and knocked him clear off his bike. He sustained quite a traumatic head injury, of which he is still suffering the consequences today.

All I remember is everything changing after that. I got a roommate and moved out of the apartment building and some other crazy things happened and life went on in another direction. I sometimes wonder if it truly is all random or if things really do happen for a reason. All I know is the next time I saw Donnie, he wasn't the same guy anymore. You might say he was Ahnahnsisi now. It was a few years later and he hardly knew me. Oh sure, he knew of me, had heard stories and seen some photos, but all of my fun memories with him were mine and mine alone now. It was almost as if I had made it all up in my head. It took me some time to accept this.
I think he gradually got some things back. He did become a lawyer. He is and always was an amazingly intelligent man. And now he paints these amazing works of art.
I say; The bus knocked the paintings out of him.
But what the hell do I know?


Don said...

thank you behn. That was very beautiful. d

Hiptobeme said...

I must say, it was difficult to sum you up in a few short paragraphs. You, too, merit an entire volume or two. Maybe I should get on that!

Anonymous said...

What a remarkable story. I've known Don since I was 14 and he was always that special soul, and yes, after the accident it was hard losing that connection of shared memories. But the interesting thing is that he trusted me enough to believe in our stories, and allowed me to keep them intact. That is why I think he is such an exceptional artist. A friend from Toronto...