The first Whitehorse Nuit Blanche arts festival takes starts on July 5, and runs into the wee hours of July 6. 

The event is modeled after the famous Nuit Blanche festivals that take place around the world. 

Whitehorse’s version will showcase five Yukon artists. There will be sculptures, video installations, origami, dance, music, and workshops.

Downtown Whitehorse will be an art gallery from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Gratis gourmet feast stations will be set up throughout downtown Whitehorse to complement the art.

Aimeé Dawn Robinson and Monique Romeiko are the creative brains behind this first annual Nuit Blanche.

“We take on the roles of co-artistic directors, administrators, and collaborators.” Romeiko says.

Sounds like a lot of work, but Romeiko couldn’t be more pleased.

“We have had an amazing response including interest from a few politicians.”

The selection process began in December and concluded at the end of January. Twenty-eight submissions were received, from which the five artists were selected. 

“This year, we went with Yukon-based artists, but we are hoping to host a Nuit Blanche next year, too. We have already garnered some interest from international artists,” Romeiko says. 

Although there are five artists headlining the event, the work of several others will be exhibited throughout the festival at other locations.

“There is a site map which will be issued to the public, so people can see where everything is taking place,” Romeiko says. “I am very happy with the five artists we have selected, as each exhibit offers something very different.”

Marie- Hélène Comeau is one of the artists whose work will be shown this year. The Montreal native has lived in the Yukon since 1992, which is also when her interested in art piqued.

“In the North there is so much opportunity. One of my goals was to express the North in different ways,” she says. 

Comeau was not exposed to art when she lived in Montreal with her family because of the confusion it sometimes represented.

“My family was never quite sure how to interpret the art at galleries.” 

But she saw things in a different light when she moved to the Yukon. Comeau received her Bachelors in Fine Art in 1997, and began to pursue art as a career. Although she is very experienced with art, this will be her first time participating in a Nuit Blanche festival.

Comeau will be showcasing her exhibit As time Floats By at the L’AFY building. 

Her project is an artistic representation of sorrow.

“I will be making little paper boats to represent people that I have lost in the Yukon, whether it be they are not living here anymore, or have passed away,” she says. “I will also be inviting viewers to participate and make boats in memory of their Yukon friends or relatives that they have lost.” 

The passing of a close friend inspired Comeau’s idea.

Also, “Boats are what brought so many people here to the Yukon in the early 1900s. So I thought that would be a way to also represent the Yukon in my project.” 

This is also the first time she will be doing a performance art project.

Joining Comeau is fellow Yukon artist Kevin McLachlan, aka Koovy. McLachlan’s project is about break dancing and hip-hop culture.

“I want to demonstrate the positive things that can come out of the dance form, and what it means to me and the other members of the crew,” he says. “We plan to do this through question and answer sessions, shows, cyphers (freestyle circles) workshops, movie screenings, graffiti, and more.”

McLachlan has shown his work in public before, but has never performed for a large-scale art festival like Nuit Blanche.

“I know if I wasn’t in it I would certainly be going around town to experience the many exciting events of the evening,” he says.

His hip-hop art performance will be taking place at YuKonstruct, on Industrial Road.

Performing and entertaining are in McLachlan’s future. He will continue with his hip hop dancing, and in the fall he will be heading to college in Ontario to study musical theatre.

The festival will also feature work from Nicholas Mah, Michel Gignac, and Marten Berkman. 

Nuit Blanche takes place July 5 to 6 from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. in downtown Whitehorse. For more information about the event or the other artists visit www.facebook.com/WhitehorseNuitBlanche.