The Dark Side of Red Wagon

You have seen them on stage, heard them on the radio, listened to their music, looked at their art and viewed their photography.

They are all talented young Yukon artists and together they form Red Wagon Union, a recently developed collective made up of Kyle Cashen, Joseph Tisiga, Tara McCarthy, Morgan Whibley and Tommy Aird.

It was at the Yukon Arts Centre a couple of months ago that the Red Wagon Union seed was first planted.

After his successful art opening, Tisiga was basking in some celebratory drinks with Whibley.

“We’re sitting around and were both extremely motivated,” explains Whibley, as Cashen mocks the drinking of a beer behind him.

So after a few beverages, they started throwing around ideas.

“We both agreed that what we wanted was something that would allow us to continue to develop as artists and keep pushing each other to create through the winter,” explains Whibley, who might be better recognized for his recent onstage antics in Varietease where he played Cyrus, the quick-witted carnival barker with the sleazy moustache.

Whibley, who only recently took to the stage, is also a pro photographer and instructor and just one piece of the talent that is Red Wagon Union.

Kyle Cashen recently released his first CD, They Built Houses Here.

Tara McCarthy, also part of Varietease, handles the pod cast duties at CBC North and is a freelance writer.

Joseph Tisiga is an accomplished painter, who later this month will be showcasing his work in the main gallery at the Yukon Arts Centre.

And Tommy Aird is a young photographer who makes a living off his craft.

The first project for this talented team of artists is Dark Days.

“It is the conscious interpretation of people actually making that effort to answer that question themselves … what do the words ‘dark days’ mean to you, how do you interpret that,” says Whibley.

“Some people take it as a celebration, their favourite time of year, which is puzzling to me because my first winter up here was definitely not my favourite time and anything but celebratory.” 

“We’re talking about the darkest, coldest, most depressing months of the year here so really we want to do something that is going to give ourselves and other artists a creative outlet and encourage social interaction,” adds Cashen.

“The curse of the Yukon winter is repetition and people falling into these same patterns each winter that drains the life out of them,” quips Whibley. “We’re hoping this will allow them to stop and shake that all off and do something completely outside of their box.”

And both say the response they have gotten to Dark Days has been startling.

“It’s all over the map, age-wise, professional experience-wise, mediums, styles, interpretations, it’s a really big spectrum,” smiles Whibley with excitement.

“I’m thinking to myself, ‘Who are these people?’,”says Cashen, speaking of the range of interest.

They say having a theme like Dark Days has given a beacon to young artists and helped guide their creativity.

And with that, it has attracted more experienced artists because it has allowed many of them to step outside their creative box and get involved in something where they typically would not.

The end result will be a two-week showcase of the selected artists work early in 2009.

“We’re talking musical, spoken word, visual, it’s the whole gamut,” says Whibley. “We’ll have four live performances within the two-week period and an opening show to celebrate the visual art.”

And as for the name, Red Wagon Union?

“We were going to call it ‘Apple’ but … outside of being a group of artists that work together and respect each other’s work we’re all good friends,” explains Whibley. “So we just all sat at a table and jammed out ideas and that’s what we came up with. We wanted a feeling of playfulness.”

“All I can picture though is little kids running around, kids untainted by growing up and taking things too seriously.”

Both Cashen and Whibley say they’re unsure if there will be another Dark Days down the road, but they both agree it won’t be the last you hear from the Red Wagon Union.

“We want to keep searching out alternate processes of displaying and creating work and we want to go to different places like Haines Junction and Dawson,” says Cashen. “I don’t see us stopping at Dark Days; we want to let it bloom.”

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top