Blog / Archives / December 2014

Behind the Scenes with YAC Staff: Jessica Vellenga

Behind the Scenes with YAC Staff: Jessica Vellenga

Jessica Vellenga (left) and Casey Lee (right) of Yarn Bomb Yukon, yarn bombing the DC-3 airplane. Photo Credit: Kyle G Cameron

 

Jessica Vellenga, curator of the summer exhibition ‘Jim Robb’s Yukon’, has a passion for both community and art, and works tirelessly to connect the two.  This aspiration is most evident in YAC’s public programs. Has your child created a masterpiece at a Kids Kreate Workshop? Presented their artwork in the Youth Gallery? Have you shown your own art in the Community Gallery? Attended an art talk, lecture, tour, workshop, class or event? If you said yes to any of these, then you have benefitted from Jessica’s persistence and passion for promoting culture in our community. As Visual Arts Community Engagement Coordinator for the Yukon Arts Centre, and an artist in her own right, Jessica is focused on bringing art outside the Gallery, and inspiring individuals and groups to be curious and creative. 

With such a pivotal role at YAC and within our community, we thought it was about time that the public get to know Miss Vellenga, so we talked with Jessica about her long time love affair with the arts.


DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO AT THE YUKON ARTS CENTRE IN FIVE WORDS OR LESS.
Connect people with art.

WHAT IS A VISUAL ARTS COORDINATOR?
A job which allows me to work on many different projects, with the main goal of encouraging the public to engage with visual arts at the Yukon Arts Centre through a variety of programs.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES?
Curation of the Community & Yukon Electrical Youth Gallery, public and school tours, planning Kids Kreate – our free family art class, creating community art exhibits, organizing our resource library, social media promotion of YAC Gallery, shipping and receiving, artist liaison, working with community partners to develop art experiences, exhibition planning and installation, writing grants and budgets.

WHAT IS THE MOST EXICITING THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Always being involved in the creative culture of the Yukon community, but also meeting and working with national and international artists. 

HOW DID YOU GET INTO THIS CAREER?
I’m a practicing artist and started working in galleries to better understand how to make and market my art.  My first gallery job was learning to frame and sell artworks and from there my cultural career has continued. I’ve worked for artist run centres, public art galleries, commercial art galleries, on public art projects, and contracts in collections management in both Ontario and Yukon.

WHAT KIND OF TRAINING PREPARED YOU FOR THIS POSITION?
I have my B.A. in Fine Art, with a minor in Art History, specializing in contemporary art from McMaster University and the University of Leeds, UK.

MOST MEMORABLE SHOW/EVENT/EXPERIENCE YOU’VE WORKED ON.
Yarn Bombing the DC-3 airplane with the Yukon Transportation Museum and Yarn Bomb Yukon was definitely a highlight!

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT/JOB?
This is it!  It’s a perfect balance between my career as an artist and cultural worker.

Behind-the-Scenes with YAC Staff: Al Cushing (PART 2)

Behind-the-Scenes with YAC Staff: Al Cushing (PART 2)

Photo Credit: Linda Leon 

 

Lifelong cultural worker and CEO of the Yukon Arts Centre since 2008, Al Cushing supports arts and culture in the Yukon and works tirelessly to help the community thrive.

Last week, we asked Cushing some questions about his role as CEO of the Yukon Arts Centre. You can find that article by following this link

We followed up with our CEO to ask a few more questions about his experience at the Yukon Arts Centre. Here is what he had to say:


WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS CEO OF THE YUKON ARTS CENTRE?
Number one is the coordination of our amazingly talented team; they do all the hard work. 

At least quarterly I find myself immersed in numbers as we collectively work to ensure that every dollar we receive is spent effectively and in line with our ‘Ends’ and to the advantage of the Yukon.

YAC does an amazing variety of things, some small, some large; Kids Kreate, Mainstage Presentations, special productions for groups such as the Arctic Council, co-presentations with folks like Nakai, Gwaandak and Adaka.  Sometimes it feels like I spend a lot of time herding some very talented cats.

WHAT IS AN AVERAGE DAY LIKE FOR YOU?
Long, but never boring.

WHAT IS A POPULAR MISCONCEPTION ABOUT YOUR JOB?
People often think it is a Government job but it’s not!  YAC is not a branch of government.  It is an independent not-for-profit charitable corporation.

WHAT KIND OF TRAINING PREPARED YOU FOR THIS POSITION?
For the first five years of my career I learned by watching, listening and most importantly doing.  Then, just as I was sure I knew it all, I had the good fortune to go to work with Rae Ackerman the Production Manager of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.  He became a friend and a mentor who showed me how little I knew and helped me to learn.  Learning should never stop, within the limits of time I have tried to take a couple of courses or workshops every year; accounting, HR Principals, rigging, facilitating, lighting, design.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE INTERESTING JOBS YOU HAVE HAD IN THE PAST?
I have been fortunate that I have never had an uninteresting job.  Theatre Designer, Technical Director, Production Manager, VP Operations.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT AT YAC?
I would love to see YAC expanded to include a new gallery for the permanent art collections and the lobby spaces expanded to include a cabaret theatre and a full kitchen.

Holiday Hours

Holiday Hours

Happy Holidays from all of us at the Yukon Arts Centre and the Old Fire Hall!

Our image this year is our pin-by-number Ted Harrison inspired by the very first piece in the Yukon Arts Centre Permanent Art Collection. Lone Woman with Ravens was re-imagined with close to 30,000 push-pins in twenty-two colours and pinned by hundreds of Yukoners!

HOLIDAY HOURS: The Yukon Arts Centre will be closed from December 24th until January 5th for the holiday season. However the Box Office and Public Art Gallery will be open from 10am - 3pm on December 29th and 30th.  

Here's wishing you all the best in 2015. Thank you for being part of our community!

Sincerely,
Yukon Arts Centre

Artwork Wednesday: Zea Morvitz

Artwork Wednesday: Zea Morvitz

         

I spoke with artist Zea Morvitz about her body of work exhibited in the Public Gallery, titled ‘The Alchemy of Collaboration’ and on display at the Yukon Arts Centre until February 21, 2015. This new exhibition includes two large paintings on Fiberglas, eighteen inkjet prints on handmade paper and a series of colourful handmade postcards exchanged between Morvitz and Joyce Majiski, who is exhibiting in the adjacent space.

Morvitz is an accomplished artist, with a Masters of Painting from the University of California, Berkeley, and an international exhibition history. When not working in the studio, she works as Curator and Administrator at Gallery Route One in Point Reyes Station, California.


       

Sublimatio, (2013) Front and Back

 

During the 1990s, Morvitz was a member of a collaborative group of artists calling themselves ‘Miz-Maze Theatre’. The group was collectively inspired to use alchemical images after seeing a book called ‘Alchemy, the Secret Art’. At this time Morvitz created the two paintings included in the exhibition, and continued to learn about the ancient practice of alchemy, which inspired her later artwork.

The exhibition of postcards by Zea Morvitz and Joyce Majiski

 


The word ‘synchronicity’ is meaningful to Morvitz- it recalls the seamless exchange of handmade postcards between herself and her friend and fellow artist Joyce Majiski, sent every Friday at 3pm, travelling to and from Inverness, California and Whitehorse, Yukon and all of the hundreds arriving intact. The current exhibition showcases the third year-long postcard exchange between the artists, and the second collection of postcards to be exhibited at the Yukon Arts Centre.


A similar collaborative project between the two artists was Canyon Flow (2013), based on Miles Canyon. This illustration fills two 17ft long scrolls, created with graphite pencil and watercolour, and was completed by the simultaneous collaboration of both artists. This project involved cross-border participation, as the artists travelled between Inverness, California, where the studio of Morvitz is located (full on chaos, according to Morvitz), to Majiski’s studio in Whitehorse, Yukon (well organized) to complete the work.  It was a fun project, one during which the artists shared materials like paint brushes and pencils, blasted music and ‘just wailed’ on the artwork. First, the artists went on a trip to Miles Canyon to explore and photograph the site, and then worked on the scrolls in both studios, laying them on the ground and across the wall. The final product is an intricate blend of both artists’ signature styles, evident again in the collection of postcards.


‘The Alchemy of Collaboration’ is the first major showing of Morvitz’s artwork here in Canada, and her multiple collaborative projects with Majiski.


Canyon Flow, (2013) Graphite and Watercolour on Paper

To learn more about Morvitz’s work, please visit her personal artist website at www.zeamorvitz.com

Behind-the-Scenes with YAC Staff: Al Cushing (Part 1)

Behind-the-Scenes with YAC Staff: Al Cushing (Part 1)

Lifelong cultural worker and CEO of the Yukon Arts Centre since 2008, Al Cushing works ceaselessly to support arts and culture in the Yukon. In his words, Cushing is dedicated to making the Yukon Arts Centre a community-based entity that supports visual and performing arts in our territory.

Last month, Cushing was involved in planning and directing the Yukon Arts Presenters Summit, a major capacity building exercise, and is currently working on the Sound Bites Campaign, a $350,000 project to replace the aging sound system at the Yukon Arts Centre.

We asked our CEO a few questions about his role at the Yukon Arts Centre. Here is what he had to say:

DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO AT THE YUKON ARTS CENTRE.
Chief Executive Officer, or in less grandiose terms Executive Director, or theatrically The Lord High Everything Else

WHAT IS A CEO?
The buck stops here!

WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING/FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Those unique moments when the art we present, showcase or produce touches a heart or a soul.  The student that will go on to music school because they had the chance to play on our stage:  the child whose stands in awe before a painting: the audience member that leaves the theatre in tears, of laughter or empathy.


HOW DID YOU GET INTO THIS CAREER?
I was infected with the Theatre bug in high school by a brilliant English professor, Andrew Garrod.  Mr. Garrod believed that the arts could and should be transformative and they have been.  Mr. Garrod, much later in life, went to the former Yugoslavia and directed a youth production of Romeo and Juliet in Mostar; casting Bosnians and Serbs.


WHAT LED YOU TO THE YUKON ARTS CENTRE?
YAC was a great opportunity to make a difference.  There is also a long story that ends with a fortune cookie that said, “Leaving the nest will lead to great adventure”.  But, that will cost you a beer.


WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THE YUKON?
The amazingly creative community!


WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE SHOW OR EVENT AT YAC?
I was blown away by last season’s presentation of Terminus.  In the Gallery I was fascinated by the Jane Isakson/Jennifer Walden exhibition.  The problem with this question is that there have been so many amazing events at YAC in the last six years it is impossible to really choose one that stands out above all the rest.


WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE NOT THE CEO OF THE YUKON ARTS CENTRE?
Apply to be the CEO of the Yukon Arts Centre.