RESERVED** Bear of the century- 500 lbs Black Walking Bear by Joe Jaw Ashoona

Joe Jaw Ashoona

$68,740.00 CAD

Inuit art: Walking Bear  
Inuit Artist: Joe Jaw Ashoona
Size: 33" long, 18" high, 14" wide, 487 lbs.
Community: North-West Territories
id: c-8837

** SHIPPING - TBD (Estimated at $2,000-$3,000 within North America)


** This item is Eligible for Layaway Plan

Provenance February 2020 - 

We are unleashing two of the largest and spectacular Inuit bear sculptures that we have ever seen.

This is your “once in a lifetime” opportunity to acquire one of the most beautiful bears ever crafted by an Inuit artist.

This is not an exaggeration.

I venture to say that the rarity of these bears (because of their size and their realistic style) makes it highly unlikely that we will see the likes of these bears again.

The monetary value of these two pieces will escalate over the years. Imagine leaving this majestic art piece to your heirs or to a Canadian Art Gallery. You would make it possible for generations of people to appreciate and marvel over the beauty of these uniquely Canadian carvings.

Happily, there are two bears. We have spent months in preparation for the reveal of our “gentle giants” (ie. delivery, logistics, photography, podiums and placement). Then we had to negotiate through the challenges of the current pandemic!

But FINALLY, we are so proud, elated and honoured to show you these incredible bears by one of the most talented carvers of bears, Inuit artist Joe Jaw Ashoona.

I think it is worth repeating ..... These are singular, never to be seen again pieces. These bears are a great investment. Their potential for investment makes me think that they are probably underpriced.

But what IS priceless is the perfection reflected in the details of the sculptures. There is not a single whisper of a flaw in the deep black stone. The finish is a polished mirror shine that shimmers and glows.

A special thank you to my friends, Stephane and Patrick, for helping me handle these pieces.


This brilliant black bear is part of a series of three bears carved by Master carver Joe Jaw Ashoona in the summer of 2018.

Joe Jaw has an incredible talent for carving bears. There is a joie de vivre about Joe Jaw’s bears that brings me happiness and inspires me as a curator and a passionate collector of Inuit art.

Joe Jaw’s father Artist Bob Kussy tells me, “Joe Jaw has a unique personal connection with the polar bear on many levels... as the dynamic predator who shares the Arctic with all Inuit. As a Carver, Joe regularly pushes the stone to amazing effect because the bear provides unique opportunities to engage in larger works.” (Feb 5, 2020)

This barely mature adult bear walks with the bravado of the young! He expects to be taken seriously. He wants to be feared!

The polish on this carving is unequivocally perfect. The stone is flawless. The intensity of the black marble is not only rare and unique; it is spectacularly dashing.

These three bears of Joe Jaw Ashoona’s will, in short, be the nicest bears you will ever see in the history of Inuit. To have one of the bears to offer my clients is amazing, BUT to have all three of bears in the series is simply unbelievable.

Joe Jaw is at the pinnacle of his talent. He has carved three very large bear carvings which are one of a kind. In the 12 years that I have been a curator and the 5 years that I was a pilot transporting Inuit carvings, I have never seen bear carvings of this size and quality. This is by far the largest bear we have ever had in the gallery (12 years plus).

These bears may be the last carvings of Joe Jaw Ashoona for some time. For the moment, he is not carving.

Any collector who understands the value of these bears must take this opportunity now. The bravado and depth of these pieces are like nothing I have seen before.

Although this piece could be placed on a low pedestal, I love that it looks spectacular simply sitting on the floor as you see it in the gallery. In a home, business or holiday getaway, this sculpture will command attention.

The sense of atomic proportions, roundness and rhythmic posture is palpable. The overall effect is utterly charming.

If you feel that your collection deserves one of the finest pieces of Canadian Art on the market today, than this is a very good day for you.

Joe Jaw Ashoona

Ashoonoo was born March 09, 1988 on Baffin Island, today he makes his home in Yellowknife, the Capital of the Northwest Territories. He is a 4th generation Canadian Inuit artist and part of the Ashoonoo family of Cape Dorset, one of Canada’s most successful Inuit art families.

Joe works along side his parents Goota Ashoona and Bob Kussy, and his cousin Koomuatuk Curly in the Ashoona family studio in Yellowknife’s down town area, creating works in soapstone and whalebone.

Joe’s early childhood saw him travelling to Inuit art exhibitions across North American continent with his parents and grand parents, and it is the family’s strong artistic tradition that has influenced and inspired him to choose Inuit art as a career.

While still in school… Joe and his brother represented the NWT at the National Schools History Fair, attended the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, travelled the largest annual sculpture show in North America, visited Canadian museum backrooms, starred in a reality TV show on the life channel… and took up carving seriously.

As a contemporary urban Inuit artist Joe’s carving style is his own, and the subject matter for his sculptures focuses upon Inuit shamanic subjects and stories, snowy owls, and polar bears. Inspiration for some work is based on the notable works of his great grandmother –Pitseolak Ashoona and his grandparents; Kiawak and Sorroseeleetu Ashoona, and his family’s significant contributions to Canadian and Inuit cultural identity over the course of the last half century.

His family has during the life of modern Eskimo and Inuit art received Orders of Canada, National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, memberships in the royal Canadian Academy, been featured on three issues of Canadian postage stamps, and been the focus or featured in numerous Inuit cultural and art documentary films. There are few cultural institutions on the planet that possess Inuit art collections that do not possess works by Ashoona family members that Joe acknowledges as having laid the foundation for his career as a contemporary urban Inuit artist. Joe’s growth as a young Canadian artist has benefited tremendously from having access to fully equipped studio and mature carvers who have for the last half decade provided him instruction, tools , carving materials, and commercial instruction.

Ashoonoo’s art work is featured at a number of local Yellowknife Art galleries and in private and corporate collections across Canada. Joe has participated in many Yellowknife arts exhibitions, National Aboriginal Day celebrations, and Joe showcased his Inuit art pieces at the Pemberton B.C. Winterfest in 2008 at the Lil”watul cultural center.

At present Joe is working towards furthering his career as a fourth generation Inuit artist. Working as an urban Inuit artist has strengthened and provided diversity and opportunities that have set Joe apart from his counterparts in the communities. He is a full partner in a completely equipped modern carving studio with a showroom that sees over 1200 visitors each year. Many national and international celebrities, leaders of state, and public figures have visited and spent time with Joe at the family studio, and have by most accounts and comments truly enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with an interesting northern artist.

In early 2009 Joe received a carving production grant from the Canada Arts Council grant under the aboriginal programming initiatives, and was featured in a major article in the Canadian arts magazine-“Galleries West” and the Canadian governmental tourism magazine –“Pure Canada”.

In the spring of 2009 he will be installing some of his work in the Edmonton international airport, and in the early summer will travel to Haida Gwaii as a guest of the Haida Council of Nations to be part of a cultural-arts exchange program, which will see him working with acclaimed Haida artists,and exhibiting some of his work in the new Haida museum and cultural center.. Joe hopes to participate at the 2010 Winter Olympics as a member of the Canadian Cultural Events programs. Joe’s work has found home across Canada and internationally and he is to be found most days working out of the Ashoona family studios in the heart of downtown Yellowknife.


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