Blog / Archives / July 2014

Artwork Wednesday: Laurie Papou

Artwork Wednesday: Laurie Papou

This week's Artwork Wednesday features Laurie Papou's She wished she had been named hope as a reminder, a part of the Yukon Arts Centre Permanent Collection and currently on display in the Locate exhibition. This work is part of Papou’s Vanity Suite series made up of four life-size figure oil paintings which employ religious and art historical imagery of the Three Graces set amidst the ruins of a west-coast clear-cut.

In these works, Papou choses to the Graces defined through Christianity as, Faith, Hope and Charity. In contrast, according to Greek myth, the Three Graces are the three goddesses of joy, charm and beauty, theological virtues that are divine gifts from God. The graces were rarely treated as individuals, but always together as one entity believed to endow artists and poets with the ability to create beautiful works of art.

The three graces can be seen here (left, foreground) illustrated in Botecelli's "Primavera"

In Vanity Suite, the one male and three female figures are set amidst the ruins of a west-coast clear-cut. The setting they inhabit is one of torment and is meant to draw parallel the reality post fall reality of Eden. Papou creates a landscape of chaos, destruction and confusion while speaking to the persistence of human behaviors within the shifting nature of sexual roles in our society. Here, ‘Hope’ is no longer standing amongst the bounty of nature; rather, she is engaged in the drama of a strip tease. Through her defiant gaze and disrobed blouse, passive voyeurism is obscured and we are taken into her hostile environment. Papou's technique in utilizing the exposed grain within the female figure's flesh furthers the voice of the artist's statement. The juxtaposition between embracing the wood's natural beauty and depicting a decimated forest clearly mirrors the female figure revealing herself while engaging the viewer with a paralyzing gaze. The aggression of which is heightened through her blouse which, on first glance, seemingly takes the form of a rifle by her side.

Clockwise from left: He stood on a plateau and challenged us all, She wished she had been named hope as a reminder, Because faith was not lost in the chaos all around her, she was, and She saw her fallen clothes as a charity, a homage to the missing trees

Artwork Wednesday: S.S. Klondike

Artwork Wednesday: S.S. Klondike

This week's Artwork Wednesday features Jim Robb's S.S. Klondike, currently on display with the Jim Robb's Yukon exhibition.  As a guardian of Yukon culture and history, it may come as no surprise that Jim depicts the S.S. Klondike amongst his many historic sites. Done in his iconic style, Jim chooses to depict the S.S. Klondike steaming down the Yukon River. Steam powered sternwheelers were common in river and lake systems in Canada, and were heavily relied upon in the Yukon. The S.S. Klondike is designated as a National Historic Site of Canada to commemorate the role these sternwheelers played in the history of the Yukon.

The S.S. Klondike was built in Whitehorse, in 1929 by the British Yukon Navigation Company, a subsidiary of the White Pass & Yukon Route railway. Servicing communities along the Yukon River, the Klondike was designed to accommodate the Mayo silver mining district shipping upriver to Whitehorse where ore would be transferred to the White Pass & Yukon Route railway to Skagway, Alaska. With a cargo capacity 50 percent greater than other boats on the river at the time, she was the first sternwheeler on the Yukon River large enough to handle a cargo in excess of 272 tonnes (300 tons).  In 1936 when the vessel sank on a section of the Yukon River known as the Thirty Mile, the British Yukon Navigation Company immediately built the S.S. Klondike II, a virtual carbon copy of her predecessor, which continued to work the Whitehorse - Dawson City circuit.

Image source Parks Canada, map showing the route the S.S. Klondike regularly traveled down the Yukon River to Dawson City.

With the decline in silver prices and development of the Alaska Highway, the S.S. Klondike II completed her last Whitehorse and Mayo trip in 1950 but continued on the Whitehorse – Dawson run until 1952 until the Mayo Road was extended to Dawson. The British Yukon Navigation Company made an attempt to continue to run the S.S. Klondike as a cruise ship and though the trips were popular, the high costs of operation were not sustainable. In August 1955 the S.S. Klondike II, the last sternwheeler working on the Yukon River, came to rest in Whitehorse and was donated to the government of Canada by the White Pass & Yukon Route railway. In 1966 she was moved from the Whitehorse Shipyards to her present location where, restored to her original appearance, she now sits in permanent retirement overlooking the Yukon River. She was formally designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1967.

The S.S. Klondike is a listed site for the Jim Robb's Yukon Hunt! Check out some of our participants posing with the boat below, and find out how you can win a signed print by the artist himself, here.

Historical dates and information cited from Parks Canada: National Historic Site of Canada, learn more about the S.S. Klondike here.

Artwork Wednesday: Michael Belmore

Artwork Wednesday: Michael Belmore

This Wednesday we will feature the work of Michael Belmore and his piece Tendency currently on display in the Locate exhibition. Belmore, of Anishnabe (Ojibway) heritage, was born in 1971 north of Thunder Bay, Ontario and is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. He holds an associated diploma in sculpture/installation from the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, Ontario, and currently lives in the Haliburton Highlands in Ontario. Belmore is known for his sculptural work in a variety of media including plastics, metal, wood, and stone all of which are important to understanding his interest in nature as a commodity.

Tendency was created as a part of the Three Rivers: Wild Waters, Sacred Places exhibition and project which began in 2003. The project was organized by the Yukon Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), the Yukon Arts Centre, the Yukon Conservation Society and the Wilderness and Tourism Association of the Yukon.  Eleven nationally prominent artists, writers, journalists, and photographers were invited to join twenty-six people from the Yukon and Northwest Territories in three separate but simultaneous journeys along the Snake, the Wind, and the Bonnet Plume rivers. In return, these guests were asked to create works that responded to the Northern landscape which still sustains an aboriginal way of life. The aim of which was to heighten public awareness through an alternative vision that would help safeguard this vital boreal wilderness area.

Belmore's Tendency was a part of this national touring exhibition. Associated with the theme of mining and exploration through the use of copper, the artist explores a prominent Northern narrative. Here, a sheet of copper has been shaped by the artist to create the impression of landforms found along part of the Wind River.  The title, Tendency, suggests a subtle shift in direction, perhaps in the public's attitude towards resource use. Belmore's piece asks us if these precious materials, such as copper, are worth destroying and reshaping our natural landscape for the sake of a Southern demand. The artist’s work emulates the image of a topographic map, further emphasizing the way we look at nature: an expedition in search of resources. As Belmore notes, "The work is a reflection on the processing of nature; beneath the surface of the landscape lies a plenitude of materials ripe for commercial consumption." Free-standing on a steel base, this piece beckons the viewer to exerience it in close proximity to truly appreicate Belmore's masterful technique in metalwork. 


Copper and steel

36" wide x 48" high x 24" high


Field Trip: Magnetic North

Field Trip: Magnetic North

Our CEO Al Cushing reports from the Magnetic North Theatre Festival in Halifax

(photo: One of the nightly Magnetic North Theatre Festival Feasts)

The Yukon was well represented at the Festival this year.  I attended wearing two hats, CEO of the Yukon Arts Centre and member of the Board of the Festival (Past Chair).  YAC Artistic Director Eric Epstein was fielding the pitches from the artists who would like to bring their work to Yukon.  Playwright Arlin McFarlane was there taking intensive workshops and building the connections that will give her the tools to take her recent work, My Brain is Plastic, on tour.  Ken Bolton, late of the Yukon was there with Lee, his wife, who is the Executive Director of the Imperial Theatre in Saint John, N.B.  Set Designer, Linda Leon, was also there rekindling relationships with directors and producers.

Day One (Saturday, 21 June)
Fortunately, my Festival started slowly giving me time to recover from the daylong trek across the country.  Although, the Festival really started Friday night with the shuttle ride from the airport with Shelagh Magadza the AD of the New Zealand International Arts Festival, a chance to chat with someone even more jet lagged than me.  The first official event I attended was an Industry Feast.  The Industry Feasts are an opportunity for the industry professionals to meet in a casual environment and share impressions, ideas and plans.  The first Feast was held in the Halifax Citadel and featured lobster!  I had the good fortune to share my table with Peter Herndorff the CEO of the National Arts Centre, Brenda Leadlay the Festival Artistic Director, Linda Wood a fellow MNTF Board Member from Ottawa and Meg Taintor a presenter from Boston.

Following the dinner we made our way to the Dunn Theatre at Dalhousie University to see Broken Sex Doll a show that will be on the YAC stage November 26 - 29.  The piece is every bit as interesting as Eric said it would be.  After the play we returned to the Commons at the Atlantica Hotel for a libation with the performers.

Day Two (Sunday, 22 June)
I skipped the 08:30 Yoga session (see libations above).  The day started with a keynote address on Waiting to be Discovered by Rich Aucoin– which sadly was not very inspiring.  Then it was a four-play day, Stella Queen of the Snow (Children’s Theatre in the Alderney Landing Theatre), Wag (a brilliant multi-disciplinary piece by Calgary actor/dancer Denise Clarke – at the Neptune Studio), Two in the Coop (another young people’s piece, this one featuring two fledglings in the nest – back at the Alderney Landing) and then When it Rains (a fascinating work that made very imaginative use of projections.)  When It Rains was presented in the Spatz Theatre venue in the Citadel High School.  Sadly, the large auditorium was not an ideal location for this intimate piece.  Once again we ended the day with libations at the Commons.  That evening Lemon Bucket Okestra treated us to an impromptu concert.  The group, which was in Halifax for an international music festival, had lost a gig and decided to come play a few tunes for us for tips and CD sales.  They played a mix of eastern European folk and dance tunes that had the whole room up dancing.

Day Three (Monday, 23 June)
So much for the 08:30 Yoga………..  The day opened with a keynote address by  Diogo Burnay, Director of the School of Architecture at Dalhousie University, who delivered a fascinating presentation on the development of a fascinating theatre in Portugal that resulted in the animation of the city centre.  That evening we were back at the Spatz Theatre to see Lear.  This was a fascinating, experimental adaptation of the play. Lear was played by veteran actress Claire Coulter and was supported by a chorus of dance/actors.  Lear’s loss of kingdom and power was interpreted by having the daughters slowly cut apart her dress.  Lear’s tribulations and travels were interpreted through dance.  The audience to this piece was restricted to 70 patrons, who were asked to sit at the front of the theatre.  As Lear lost power the audience was moved from seats in the auditorium to seats on stage, staring at the now empty auditorium, and their own loss of power as audience.  After the show we made our way to the Lion and Bright Café.  There we got to experience a work in progress called Pop up Love Party.  It was a fun piece that lasted over two hours and will be excellent when it has matured into a 90-minute show. 

Day Four (Tuesday 24 June)
Chef Michael Howell using the story of the slow food movement to discuss the importance of building networks and network connections gave Tuesday’s keynote. It was a fascinating presentation that made me want to explore the slow food movement in more detail.

Each morning during the industry series there was an hour and one half dedicated to “1 two 1”.  Prior to the conference you had the opportunity to review the list of who was at the gathering and list up to 15 folk you would like to meet personally for a fifteen minute one on one chat.  For example, I had an excellent meeting with the director of the Riverbank Arts Centre in Ireland.  The Riverbank is a member of a nine-venue group of theatres that share/tour productions as a way of controlling cost and improving services to their publics.  A very successful programme, however, all nine towns would probably fit within the footprint of Whitehorse. 

In the afternoon we met a number of local theatre artists for a tour of a Dartmouth coffee roaster and then, caffeine fortified, moved on to the Pitch Sessions.  These short presentations give the presenters a chance to see some of the work in development or on the market.  They are limited to fifteen minutes, which barely gives one time for a taste, but they can be very informative.  The Pitch sessions included:
• Awake a multi-cultural work set at the funeral of a victim of gun violence
• The Damage is Done, an exiting exploration, through dance, words and video of the effect on two families of the decades of violence in Hungary – performed by Rita Bozi and Dr. Gabor Mate.  The Yukon Arts Centre will present this piece on the 12th and 13th of September 2014
• Fashion Machine is community engagement work that pairs professional actors, textile workers and photographers with elementary school children and audience members willing to have their clothes redesigned by the kids.
• Going On is a one-woman show examining the life of an aspiring actress.
• It is solved by Walking, a work in development, explores the break up of marriage that turns into a writing career.
• Let’s Not Beat Each Other to Death is a genre defying piece inspired by the murder of Halifax queer activist
• The Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst is a project of Calgary’s Ghost River Theatre and will premier at Alberta Theatre Projects in February 2015.
• Making Treaty 7 is a work in progress that examines the contemporary relevance of the 1877 treaty between Queen Victoria and the First Nations 9Blackfoot, Tsuu T’ina, and Stoney Nakoda)
• Sacrifice Zone, was created by Toronto’s Theatre Gargantua in association with Australia’s The Uncertainty Principal company premiered at Toronto’s Factory Theatre in 2013.
Following the Pitch Sessions we were treated to a pizza at the Dartmouth community oven, an outdoor, wood-fired oven operated by the folks of the community garden.  It was a lovely supper under the trees.  Then, it was off to Alderney Landing for a brilliant presentation of a piece called Iceland.  The cast of three presented a fascinating telling of one event from the viewpoint and personal history of each of the characters.  There was very good acting and an interesting script.

Day 5  (Wednesday 25 June)

The day opened with a group discussion on “critical discourse”; a discussion of the role of professional criticism in the development of Canadian theatre led by a panel of professional theatre writers from the paper and electronic media.   It was a spirited discussion that provided interesting insights into the changing nature of communications about the arts that reflects integration of the electronic media into society.  There was even discussion about the need to have a smart phone at the Festival so that you could get the latest programming changes on the Festival App.

With the rest of the morning and early afternoon clear I was able to visit the Nova Scotia Art Gallery.  This is a small but interesting gallery with a wonderful exhibition of the folk art of Maude Lewis and a contemporary installation of bicycle art.

I then made my way to the Company House, a basic sort of bar for “Demostage” a presentation of works in progress.  As in interesting twist, and a way to make sure that the presenters focused on their work, not themselves, the audience was asked to introduce each presenter.  There were some interesting pieces presented including an electronic piece that featured recorded live applause and laughter that could be triggered by some one walking by the powered speaker.  We were invited to contribute some raw material.

The industry meet up that night was at the Lion and Bright, the same pub where we saw the Pop up Love story.  Excellent snack type food that included wonderful steamed oysters.  From there we walked down to the Neptune Studio Theatre for Who Killed Spading Grey a powerful monologue by Daniel MacIvor.

Day 5 (Thursday 26 June)

The last day of the industry series opened with a delegate only discussion of the shows that were in the festival that was followed by an open discussion about the Festival itself.  Both reviews were informative and interesting.

That evening we saw A Tale of a Town, Nova Scotia.  This unique work was built on the artists’ visits to small town Nova Scotia in the weeks prior to the Festival.  Then, in a mere two weeks they created a play that captured the sense of what they had seen and heard often using the words of the folks they had spoken with.  It was interesting and fun.  The company is going to produce one of these shows for each province and Territory before the Canadian 150 anniversary in 2017 so we will see them at some point in 2016 in the Yukon.

You can read reviews and more on the Magnetic North Web site at:

Artwork Wednesday: Red Feather Saloon

Artwork Wednesday: Red Feather Saloon

This week's Artwork Wednesday is dedicated to Jim Robb's Red Feather Saloon, currently on display in the Jim Robb's Yukon exhbition. Done in his traditional style, Jim depicts the original Red Feather Saloon which stood in Dawson City. Once again, the artist has been able to capture a part of Yukon history which no longer exists in the form in which it is depicted. Deemed a historic site in 1991, the Red Feather Saloon was completely rebuilt in order to preserve its presence in Dawson City, the only original components of the structured that have been retained are the outside planks. Currently, the Dawson City Liquor Store is located in the replica of the saloon which remains in the exact location it originally did during the Klondike Gold Rush. 

Photo from On the Wire #07: The Centre for Land Use Interpretation: Dawson City

Photo from On the Wire #07: The Centre for Land Use Interpretation: Dawson City

Much like Jim Robb, Frederick Caley was a patron of Yukon hertitage and an advocate for many structures in Dawson City which are now deemed historical sites. Caley was born September 4, 1904 in Wilham, Essex, England and arrived in the Klondike region in 1922 at the age of eighteen. By 1941, Caley had purchased his first business, the old Palace Bakery and opened a grocery store.  Caley continued to purchase old buildings, preserving artifacts, remnants of businesses and any other material he appreciated for its emodiment of the history of the area. Many of these structures are now maintained by Klondike National Historic Sites and Parks Canada, including the Red Feather Saloon. To recognition Caley's contribution in preserving Yukon history, he received the Yukon Historical & Museums Association Heritage Award in 1981, the Commissioner’s Award in 1982 and was inducted in to the Yukon Prospectors’ Association Honour Roll in November 1989. Similar to Caley, Jim also shares this passion for preserving Yukon culture and history and was awarded the Order of Canada in 2003. 

Photo from On the Wire #07: The Centre for Land Use Interpretation: Dawson City

Photo from Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada

The Red Feather Saloon is one of five Dawson City locations listed in the Jim Robb's Yukon Hunt contest! Photograph yourself with a listed structure to be entered to WIN a signed Jim Robb print! To learn more about the contest click here, or view the interactive map with more historic structures in both Dawson City and Whitehorse. 

For location and hours of operationhere

SOVA On the Wire #07: The Centre for Land Use Interpretation: Dawson City PDF avaliable here.  

Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada website