When a spirit’s tragedy turns to glory

I’m sitting here looking at my miniature Spirit Catcher. A gift from one of my small business groups 10 years ago, it represents much for me. Constructed in exact detail to its mammoth original which graces Barrie’s waterfront, my Spirit Catcher (plated #3) reminds me of this city I love, and of the importance of creativity and uniqueness in our lives, as well as the generosity of a group of entrepreneurs who are very important to me.

The story of the mini Spirit Catcher embraces the generosity of artist Ron Baird whose iron and steel sculptures grace locations around the world. Ron built the Spirit Catcher to embrace the First Nations theme at Expo 86 in Vancouver. Chuck Peacock picked up the substantial bill to have it
dismantled in Vancouver and moved and installed on Barrie’s waterfront. It is a monument to his deceased wife, Daphne.

Over time the Spirit Catcher has become Barrie¹s identity icon–at least here at home. And it¹s an important part of the MacLaren collection.

The mini Spirit Catcher concept came from the mind of Miriam Owen, from the computer laser architecture of Mike Bilyk at MC LazerWerks. Mike worked with Ron’s trademarked art piece and has deftly produced spirit catchers, plating and numbering each one for charitable sales purposes. It’s much the same as a series of prints of original art work.

This is the story of a young woman who received a spirit catcher from an admirer, coveted and celebrated it, only to have it removed by Barrie City Police, to be used as evidence in a theft. The young woman, Christine Brazier, lost her gift when it became apparent that the un-numbered art
piece had been stolen from its manufacturer.

And here’s the story… MC LazerWerks, in a burst of production deadlines, hired a temp worker for a couple of days back in 1997. The mini Spirit Catchers were in their first production run, to be produced and numbered and sold in groups of 10, each 10 increasing in price. An expensive item at
$400 each, they were part of a project to raise substantial money for the MacLaren Art Centre. The temp worker stole a spirit catcher from a production run and presented it to a young woman he fancied at the time.

An un-numbered Spirit Catcher represents not only a theft, but a break in the agreement between MC LazerWerks, the artist and the beneficiary, MacLaren Art Centre. Mike Bilyk had to act quickly to report the theft and the surprised Christine lost her spirit catcher to the court system. She
never knew it was a stolen art piece.

The temp-working thief was charged with theft and the “witnesses” were called to court… six years after the theft occurred. Why? It took that long to find the accused and pull together the evidence.

The court date and 11th hour guilty plea is really incidental to the story, except to say that these critical art pieces, numbered and plated, have their value through that production detail.

And when it’s all said and done, everything turned out okay.

MC LazerWerks retained its untarnished reputation as an art piece manufacturer of principle. The un-numbered mini Spirit Catcher was returned to its proper place in the production line. The purity of the arrangement between Ron Baird and the MacLaren was protected.

The only loser in the whole thing was the innocent recipient of a gift… Christine.

Some tales do have a good ending. Thursday afternoon, by mutual agreement, Ron Baird approved, MC LazerWerks produced and the MacLaren presented Christine with her Spirit Catcher, numbered (#71) and plated as it should have been all along.

On the surface, this seems like a whole lot of fuss about very little. But, like all things simple, the complexities behind the story have their root in principle and value, and creativity and art.

Those paying $500, $600, now $800 for a Spirit Catcher (each 10 pieces have a $100 price increase) are assured they have one of a very few in an important production run.

For Christine, it’s the happy end to a confusing experience and loss of something she rightfully enjoyed.

Thanks, Ron for your generosity. Thanks, Mike, for staying the course and taking care of Christine. And thanks, Christine, for keeping your faith in the ultimate goodness of people.