Meet Jimi McKee…Imagineer!

On a beautiful autumn day I sat down and had an insightful chat with our friend Jimi McKee artist, creative spirit, and totem pole carver extraordinaire.

artist Jimi McKeeWho Is Jimi McKee?

I call myself an Imagineer, meaning that every year my format changes. The more you change your creative style, the less blank spots there will be.

Why Totems?

Twenty years ago I purchased 218 B.C. cedar totems long before they were popular. I realized very early on our heritage had not educated us in any way about their meaning or existence. I naively thought every hotel chain in Canada would want them for their grand foyers and lobbies only to find……they, in fact, did not!  They did not find them either interesting or exciting.
Fortunately, my friend Jeff in Port Carling, Ontario was holding an antique show. I asked him for a space to set up my totems to sell that weekend and he obliged.

However, long before I got inside the building to arrange them for display, the initial four were immediately purchased. People lined up outside the arena where they were to be sold and on display bought the remaining 150 I had set up in the next 30 minutes!

Totem Pole Meaning?

Jimi McKee mini totemThey tell a story of a life, a family’s life, a school’s life, a history. I carve, in detail, events that have occurred within that totems story.

Today poles are cool, “funky as hell”…even great being imperfect. I carve them for families, to tell their own story.

Orillia’s Blues Festival pole depics all the musicians and what they played. Fun and very cool to do!

Let’s Talk Music

I started way way back in the 1960’s playing guitar and singing with a blues band in Toronto!

Really enjoyed being onstage performing until an accident cost me partial use of my left foot and there went my aspiring musical career.  Today I still play for pure enjoyment, usually harmonica with some buddies. We have a major blast when we get together at annual parties here at home and various spots in and around town.

What Makes Jimi McKee Happy?

When I am appreciated. Nothing better for an artist than being appreciated for their work and talent. That may sound hokey, but it is true.

How Does Jimi McKee Relax?

For the past 42 years, my wife Karen and I go to the Florida Keys to fish, detox from all the paints I injest over the year and just mellow out. I find it gives me balance. I get away from the day to day pressures of an artist and just relax.

funky local art, orillia artistWhat Is Your Passion?

Learning something new! Whether it’s in my art, restoring sports cars or my music, there is just always something new to discover.

Art is a pyramid of base blocks. Inhale everything. Be a human sponge! Do not be afraid to copy ideas from things you admire about others. This allows you to develop your own style and taste.

Late In Life Lesson?

“Always be positive!” You sure? “Positively!”


Shelley Weir, Associate Publisher

Author: Lifestyles Author

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