Saskatoon must do more to celebrate Joni Mitchell's legendary career or her hometown will lose her important artifacts, a close family friend says.
Ron Lamb told CBC News that the famous folk singer is frustrated with the city's lack of recognition of her and feels snubbed, so much so she might find another home for the artifacts that he has in his possession.
"I think it's to the point ... where I think Joni is saying 'Maybe I should just forget about Saskatoon'," he said. "There's been all these false starts, fits and spurts, whatever, and nothing has really happened. So maybe she should just make sure she's got all of her things in a place where someone really wants them and is respectful of them and appreciates them."
The collection of artifacts includes Mitchell's graduation dress and scrapbooks that her mother Myrtle kept when her daughter started making a name for herself. Lamb came to be the keeper of the items after Mitchell's parents, Bill and Myrtle Anderson, moved from their house in Saskatoon to a seniors' housing complex a few years ago.
A place to pay respect
Lamb pointed out that a fan looking for a place to learn about Mitchell's roots and pay homage would be out of luck in Saskatoon.
"There really isn't anything right now," he said. "And that's the number one concern."
Lamb said Mitchell would like to see the items kept in Saskatoon but they could go to B.C. or Los Angeles, where she owns homes. Universities are also interested in the materials, he said.
According to Lamb there have been two or three failed efforts over the years to have the objects permanently displayed, including as part of the new River Landing Development.
Lamb said the artist's world-wide success would be a tourist draw, noting that a guest book from an art display in 2000 at the Mendel Art Gallery, featuring Mitchell's paintings, contained signatures from around the globe.
Interest in the artifacts
Gregory Burke, current CEO of the Mendel Art Gallery, said the gallery wasn't aware of the Mitchell artifacts.
"I think the question that is really coming through is how can these works, these artifacts stay in Saskatoon," Burke told CBC News. "Of course I would be happy to have that conversation."
Lamb said there were conversations with the previous Mendel CEO but he hasn't approached Burke.
"It's not just the artifacts as such," Lamb said. "Joni and I have talked on the phone for many years and I think what it is, is that she would like to have a better connection to Saskatoon, in terms of recognition."