ManWoman is dead, long live ManWoman.
That was the closing sentiment voiced by the master of ceremonies at Saturday’s tribute to the late Cranbrook artist, writer and spiritual visionary, who died Nov. 13.
ManWoman gained international renown and not a little notoriety through his prolific and individualistic art and his 40-year quest to reclaim the spiritual significance of the ancient swastika symbol from its usurpation by the Nazis.
More than 300 people donned yellow armbands to attend the event at the Prestige Inn in Cranbrook to hear and tell how the artist influenced people in the community and abroad.
The walls of the Prestige Inn ballroom were hung with some of ManWoman’s more notable paintings, many from the collection of Infinity Solstice of the Golden area. Mr. Solstice also provided live keyboard music and vocals for the occasion.
Richard Leesman served as master of ceremonies.
The celebration of ManWoman’s life began with a slide show, prepared by Brian Clarkson, showing images of ManWoman from infancy through to recent months. Several friends and colleagues then spoke.
Kimberley artist Tony Austin read a recent ManWoman poem “Silly Old Man.” Candace Wilson read missives from friends and admirers in Ireland and Denmark, who spoke of how ManWoman’s swastika campaign had influenced them and had taken root in Europe.
Robin Wiseman of Nelson read the poem “Touch My Face Chant.” And Chris Sobczak of Cranbrook, a friend and colleague in the Mankind Project, read a letter from ManWoman’s friend Starchild, who told of how ManWoman recognized Starchild’s own inner struggle and helped him with it.
Quan Yin Lynne Williams of Spokane, a colleague in the international Sufi community, spoke of how ManWoman was true to himself, and by hiding nothing within himself changed everyone he met. She then read the poem “Death is Warm.”
Tracy McGuire read four dreams from ManWoman’s last days, which he had written down.
And Infinity Solstice read the poem “Drunken Apples.”
People in attendence were invited to share memories of ManWoman and many did, emphasizing his fearlessness and irreverence. As one example, Kathy Simon of Kathy’s Kitchen related a story of how ManWoman dressed her shop window with a “Jesus’ lunchbox” display — one of her earliest such displays — which caused no small kafluffle.