Down by the riverside

Throughout history, rivers have been associated with life. It seems appropriate, then, that those who create would celebrate alongside the Yukon River.

The Yukon Riverside Arts Festival, in Dawson City, is going into its ninth year and Jenifer Rudski shares festival highlights over the phone from KIAC, in Dawson City.

She is coordinating this year’s festival and though she, herself, is new to the Yukon, her father lived in Dawson. “My Dad told me, ‘Dawson’s the best place in Canada,'” Rudski laughs over the phone. So here she is.

The festival celebrates the diversity of the North, with artists coming from across the territory and the NWT, even as far away as Tsiigehtchic, which Rudski pronounces with ease.

“The focus is on the Yukon, but it’s also to represent the North.

“This year, for the first time, we’ve included installation and performance art,” says Rudski.

“In years past, people have used natural and found objects for sculpture and structural pieces.

“And this year we have a group [classmates] of two to four coming up, canoeing from Whitehorse.

“Their studio will be the canoe.”

The group is led by Hannah Jickling, a former Dawson resident who is completing her masters in fine art at Portland State University.

And Joseph Tisiga, from Whitehorse, will do a performance art/installation piece.

The exhibits are interactive and/or demonstrative.

“The public can participate” [at interactive exhibits] or they are “free to watch and ask questions” [at demonstrative exhibits].

There will be workshops on Sunday and Monday and a Market Gallery with artwork available for purchase.

The artists will be well cared for: “Dawson’s pretty well-known for taking care of the artists that come,” Rudski says. “We have a really great volunteer base here.”

There will be a kids’ tent with ongoing workshops and interactive art games.

And what would a festival be without music? “Live music, every day. We’re hoping to have a music night … a concert and mixed media … some art mixed with music.”

This year’s festival, August 13 to 16, kicks off at 7 p.m. at the ODD Gallery with a lecture about the latest exhibits in the Natural and the Manufactured series, followed by a “gallery-hopping” event.

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