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Artwork Wednesday: Sandra Grace Storey

Artwork Wednesday: Sandra Grace Storey

Installation Shot of the We Are Golden Exhibition 

Sandra Grace Storey is a clay-based artist from Tagish. With teaching and exhibition experience nationally and internationally, Storey chooses the Yukon as her home and a place to continue making artwork. Her first solo exhibition at the Yukon Arts Centre, titled We Are Golden, is a moving sculptural installation with themes of history, mythology and archaeology. With only a month left until the exhibition closes, I spoke with Storey about some of her thoughts on the gallery show, life in the Yukon and other Yukon artists.


Anne Margaret Deck: How did you get into this career?

Sandra Grace Storey:  I went to Emily Carr University to study design, and by the end of first year I was hooked on clay. I have done bronze casting, silver casting, and paper casting but clay is definitely my ultra-favorite medium.
I have always been in the arts...after I trained at Emily Carr in Vancouver I sailed to New Zealand for my first job at a polytechnic school. I also taught art at a rural school in New Zealand. When I moved back to the Yukon in 2006, I started volunteering at Arts Underground, and worked there until 2011. I didn’t want to do anything but art, and now I am working on my own career, with my partner’s support, as a full time artist making sculpture and commissions and showing my work in galleries in the Yukon and internationally.

AMD: What projects are you working on now?

SGS: I have been doing commissions for the past three years.

AMD: How do the commissions work?

SGS: Generally people see something, something someone has bought, on a Facebook page, or in an exhibition and they say, ‘I really like your owls, could you make me an owl?’ I will ask them ‘Why do you want that? Does it mean something to you? Is it an archetypal thing? Does it come from a dream or an experience?’ Though they are somewhat realistic, they often come from a dream realm, an ancient realm.…[with the commissions] I feel like I have made a meaningful piece for that person…and each piece is different. My artwork is always sculpture….my most functional piece was putting flowers in the mouth of a dancing pig.

AMD: What do you love about this exhibition at the YAC?

SGS: This is my first show exhibiting at the Yukon Arts Centre. I was able to put all on hold for six months, and I was able to create something that I really, really wanted to create that didn’t have a huge commercial content.

AMD: What is unique about We are Golden?

SGS: The size of the show is unique….as far as I know there has never been a clay installation that big in the Yukon…I really wanted people to walk into a myth, a moment, where they and the other characters were all the same size.  I wanted people not to feel like the master nor the owner of the work, but instead as a participant who entered the space to observe something or learn.

AMD: What do you love about living in the Yukon?

SGS: My partner and I just moved into a studio home in Tagish that we built ourselves. I grew up out there and I love the lifestyle. It’s simple, rigorous, and I’m a real introvert so I am happy to spend a lot of time by myself. 

AMD: What was your involvement with Ted Harrison?

SGS:  I went to F.H. Collins from grades 9-12 and he was the arts teacher during that time. A small group of students would go and meet at his house, we would go once a month and have an art group. He was somebody that didn’t have an agenda. He got to know each of his students, where your strengths were and what you liked to do…when you weren’t in a space to produce art work, he would sit beside you and draw and tell stories and all of a sudden something would click and you would say ‘I got it, I know! He would encourage everyone to be an individual creative voice, and he made a big difference in my getting into Emily Carr.


The exhibition We Are Golden by Sandra Grace Storey will be on display at the Yukon Arts Centre until November 29, 2014. 

Artwork Wednesday: Ken Anderson

Artwork Wednesday: Ken Anderson


Photo by Christian Kuntz Photography



Ken Anderson, born and raised in the Yukon, is of Tlingit and Scandinavian descent. This accomplished carver and painter, who loves ‘starting a piece, solving a space, having a piece look back at you’, has a large body of contemporary carvings, and has participated in repeated solo and group exhibitions at the Yukon Arts Centre.

Indeed, two of Anderson’s works on canvas are highlights in the Yukon Arts Centre Permanent Collection and are on display in the lobby of the Centre.

Mind, Body and Spirit and Each Other, both of 2004, are large scale abstracted paintings demonstrating the classic Tlingit stylistic features of bold black lines and red, green and blue forms. Indeed, Anderson says that he has a ‘preoccupation with line and details’.

Each Other, 2004, acrylic on canvas, 3ft x 7ft

Anderson has taken traditional forms, composition and style but modified them to fit a contemporary framework. Mind, Body and Spirit and Each Other were painted with acrylic on canvas, a traditional manner of pictorial representation in the Western Art Tradition. Anderson, whose favorite artist is the modern abstract sculptor Henry Moore connects with the language of the contemporary art world and creates aboriginal artwork suitable for exhibition in contemporary galleries today.
Still, Anderson is deeply engaged with the traditional values underlying aboriginal art making. The notion of a spiritual realm, ancestry, legends and mythology are all present in Mind, Body and Spirit.

The mind is the component at the bottom left of the painting, the body is portrayed by the red component and the spirit is portrayed by the bluish green component. The spirit is painted in the negative (the area usually painted is left unpainted). In this way, I felt I could represent the spirit as a concept that was open to the viewer’s notion of spirit. The two smaller components to the top and bottom of the spirit are the representations of what it is that makes the spirit soar. - Ken Anderson

Mind, Body and Spirit, 2004, acrylic on canvas, 3ft x 7ft

Indeed, Anderson is an expert at rendering the style of the old masters of northwest coast art. He has worked with the Tlingit master carver Stan Bevan, and has studied design since 1990 through ‘self-study of old pieces’ in the collections in the UBC Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver and various other museums in the United States with large collections of northwest coast art. These designs focus on flow, balance and abstracted forms.

I believe that the northwest coast art form is one of the most advanced art forms to ever exist. When you look at the works of the old masters there is nothing that seems wrong. You get the feeling that the possibilities are endless. The design elements offer abstraction and realism at the same time. This art form is like a language that when spoken well transcends the sum of the parts. I believe that it is the duty of every artist to expand their visual vocabulary through what already exists but also through the exploration of their own ideas. For me it is necessary to respect the past, present and future of this art form by continuing to learn, continuing to develop my skills and to push the limits of my imagination.
-Artist Statement, Foundation Exhibition, Curated by Scott Marsden at the Yukon Arts Centre 

Anderson believes in the life of the object and of the idea, and does not limit the evolution of their forms and characters.  His dream project would exist ‘without budget and /or size constraints’. As a professional artist he speaks the language of northwest coast art, and is able to skillfully express ideas and stories of that culture.  ‘All I ever really wanted to do was to create’, says Anderson, who has become quite an accomplished artist and continues to grow, learn and develop the products of his imagination. ‘I could not ask for more.’

Artwork Wednesday: Paleo Art Contest Exhibition

Artwork Wednesday: Paleo Art Contest Exhibition


Grade 8 finalist from F.H. Collins School

After a tough juried judging process, the winning entries of the Paleo Art Contest have been decided! Altogether, it is estimated that over 500 entries were submitted for this territory wide art contest, made possible through a partnership between the Yukon Arts Centre, the Beringia Interpretive Centre and ATCO Electric Yukon.


The Paleo Art Contest Winners

On opening night, participants and their families came to see their work displayed in the ATCO Electric Yukon Youth Gallery, along with the official announcement of the winners and awards ceremony. The works will be on display in the gallery until November 29th, 2014.


A wall of contest finalists

As a theme for the contest, we asked students in grades 1-12 and adults for the over 18 category from across the territory to represent ‘what their backyard would have looked like during the last Ice Age’.
Some students found inspiration while on a free school tour with an interpreter from the Beringia Centre through the Ice Age Mammals exhibition at YAC, where a full size cast of a Mastodon skeleton, a large collection of fossils, interpretive panels and multimedia presentations present an exciting and stimulating look at the paleontological remains from the last Ice Age in the Beringia region.

Grade 4/5 submission from Johnson Elementary School

Others took inspiration from their own wide imaginations.  Landscapes and animal figures were created using every color of the rainbow and often showed dynamic scenes of hunt, grazing or movement.
Some contest participants used collage techniques or cut-outs to create their artwork, while others made simple silhouette figures. A beautiful collection of batiks was submitted by the Grade 9/10 Porter Creek Secondary School.
Altogether, the entries were skillful, creative and beautifully executed.

Grade 9/10 Submission from Porter Creek Secondary School

The theme of wild environments seemed to resonate with the youth of the Yukon, who created vivid depictions of landscapes full of big creatures from long ago. Some young artists used organic materials from this area like leaves, berries and twigs to create their backyard environment which brought another dimension to the concept of ‘realism’.

Grade 8 Submission from Watson Lake Secondary School

In the end, thirteen prizes were awarded to winning entries.

These lucky winners are as follows:

Whitehorse Grade 1/2...Holy Family School
Community Grade 1/2...Home School
Whitehorse Grade 3/4...Takhini Elementary
Community Grade 3/4...Ross River School
Whitehorse Grade 5/6...Christ the King School
Community Grade 5/6...Tantalus School
Whitehorse Grade 7/8...Ecole Emilie Tremblay
Community Grade 7/8...Watson Lake Secondary
Whitehorse Grade 9/10...F.H.Collins School
Community Grade 9/10...Watson Lake Secondary
Whitehorse Grade 11/12...F.H.Collins School

However, all of the entries deserve recognition and gallery display due to their creativity, beauty and individuality. It is clear that we have a huge amount of artistic potential here in the Yukon, and many imaginative young people. 

Grade 1/2 Winning Submission from home school

Free public tours are offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1pm to 3pm of the Ice Age Mammals and Sandra Grace Storey exhibitions at the Yukon Arts Centre for the public and school groups. Complimentary transportation for the latter is offered by the City of Whitehorse. If interested, please contact Gallery Outreach Coordinator Jessica Vellenga at 393-7109 or at for more details.

Artwork Wednesday: Don Weir

Artwork Wednesday: Don Weir

Light and Shadow Series #4, 2013, 60in x 85in

This atmospheric abstracted landscape painting by Don Weir has recently been acquired by the Yukon Arts Centre Permanent Collection to the delight of all staff in the gallery.

This new addition to the permanent collection was produced for Weir’s 2013 solo show at the Yukon Arts Centre, An Ephemeral Light Light and Shadow Series #4 is the fourth work in a series of seven monumental painted abstracts.
Gallery Director and Curator Mary Bradshaw chose this painting for acquisition because of its quality in ‘masterfully meshing his signature elements: northern landscapes, love of abstraction and capturing light. While at first it appears to be a blue and white abstract when examined closely one can see brilliant pinks, purples, indigo thinly glazed to create this atmospheric piece.’

Weir has participated in multiple group and solo exhibitions at the Yukon Arts Centre and across Alaska and British Columbia, marking him as an established Northern painter. The acquisition of Light and Shadow Series #4 is timely, as it follows a solo exhibition of Weir’s work in the Studio Theatre of the YAC in September 2014 and the artist’s decision to relocate his practice to southern British Columbia in October after 30 years spent in Atlin.

Although fairly small, the Yukon Arts Centre Permanent Collection is a rich holding of Yukon artworks. The collection has been developed for over twenty years. One of the collecting themes is the environment of the Yukon, which Weir’s oeuvre aptly addresses through his interpretation of the landforms of the areas in which he lives and works.

Installation of Light and Shadow Series #4 by gallery staff

Light and Shadow Series #4 has been recently installed in the lobby of the Yukon Arts Centre and will stand as a centerpiece for the season.

The Yukon Arts Centre gratefully thanks all visitors who have generously donated throughout the years. The purchase of this monumental painting for the Permanent Collection was made possible through the power of visitor donations at the gallery. Whether our visitors leave small change or a $20 bill, everything is counted and makes a valuable contribution towards the expansion of the Yukon Arts Centre Permanent Collection.

Installation almost complete! 

We are incredibly honoured to have this piece by Don Weir in our collection and will miss his impromptu visits to the gallery.

Artwork Wednesday: George Rinaldino Teichmann

Artwork Wednesday: George Rinaldino Teichmann

Smilodon  (2001) Oil on Gatorboard

Paleoart: The Harmony of Art and Science

A master of wildlife painting, George Teichmann’s oeuvre has focused the niche
subject of ‘paleoart’ and brought him great success nationally and internationally.


Born and raised in the former Czechoslovakia, George Rinaldino Teichmann was instructed at the People’s School of Art in Bohemia from 1964-1973. For a decade, Teichmann worked as a successful artist in Europe, commissioned to paint many portraits in Rome, and producing many paintings on the subject of wildlife.
In 1983, the artist immigrated to Canada, where he was enthralled by the large forested areas. He took a solo five year canoeing venture, charting many remote Canadian northern rivers. The maps he created were detailed and very useful to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, who use them as guides to this day.
Following this project, Teichmann decided to remain in the north, settling in the Yukon, but has since moved to the Czech Republic where he currently resides.  As is written in the biography on his personal webpage, ‘The lure of the northern wilderness captured George so completely that he now makes his home in Whitehorse, Yukon, the Land of the Midnight Sun’.

In this body of paintings on display at the Yukon Arts Centre, drawings and sketches consist of depictions of the ice-age natural environments and those that inhabited them, what he defined as ‘Paleoart’. Teichmann is an expert at painting wild animals, big cats and prehistoric landscapes. The animals he depicts were native to the Yukon, including the scimitar cat, the mastodon, the giant ground sloth and wild horses. Teichmann researched the flora and fauna of that time and region to reproduce the environment. Their prairie-like home is a recreation of the Yukon’s northern landscape during the last glacial period. The paintings are imaginative, historical and scientific all at once.

Teichmann’s work certainly inhabits a niche of its own. He is a master at painting long extinct animals and producing works that are dynamic and realistic.  Teichmann’s scientific methodology and style have brought him many commissions by museums and paleontological study groups. In fact, the painter was commissioned by the Yukon Government to create a series of paintings of the prehistoric wildlife and wild animals of the Yukon for the Beringia Interpretive Centre. You can see many banner backdrops of these works in the Ice Age Mammals exhibition now showing in the Public Gallery of the Yukon Arts Centre. Indeed, alongside the skeletal remains in Ice Age Mammals, Teichmann’s interpretive paintings are helpful in decoding the secret world of the prehistoric.

Shameful Retreat (1998) Oil on Gatorboard

The central image in the Ice Age Mammals exhibition, Shameful retreat (1998) is a dynamic oil painting on gatorboard, a lightweight surface. Fearsome scimitar cats and snarling Yukon lions rush towards the viewer, in flight from a band of huge woolly mammoths. We can see the movement in the beast’s tensed muscles, in the blades of dry grass caught in the draft of their rush and in their flowing manes of hair. The colorful surface was created with painstaking layers of fine brushstrokes, following the models and skeletal remains of Paleolithic animals studied by paleontologists. The final image is produced over the course of three months to a year of work. A dry tundra forms the foreground, and glacial peaks appear in the background of the image. Teichmann has painted an imagined event from the last great ice age here in the Yukon.
To learn more about George Teichmann, check out his personal artist website where you can find many more images of his work, biographical details and contact information. George Teichmann Paintings will be displayed in the Community Gallery of the Yukon Arts Centre until November 1st, 2014.