The view from the top of the Mackenzie Mountains has inspired a show of new artworks. The beauty of that setting also inspired the artists to donate their artworks to support a program that brings First Nation youth to the area for environmental education.
There are three more days to check out the Dechenla Artist Retreat Show; one wide wall at the North End Gallery has been devoted to the show, which runs until Saturday. Proceeds from the artworks will support the Dechenla Cultural Awareness and Environmental Youth Programme, which brings First Nation youth from across the Yukon and Northwest Territories together to learn traditional and science-based environmental skills at the Dechenla Lodge.
Barbara and Norm Barichello run Dechenla Lodge with help from their son Josh. This past summer they invited the artists to spend a week at their lodge at the top of the Canol Road in the Mackenzie Mountains to do studies on site, then create artworks back in their own home studios.
The show at North End Gallery features the resulting paintings and painterly photographs by five artists: Whitehorse artists Marten Berkman, Simon James Gilpin and Nathalie Parenteau from; Yellowknife artist Jennifer Walden; and B.C. and Yukon-based artist Dominik Modlinski.
Marten Berkman’s photographs are printed onto canvas. He’s altered the photos so they look a lot like paintings, with soft edges and round halos around the highlights creating the effect of looking through a rainy window. His piece called “Dechenla Moon” includes four caribou, enhanced red bearberry leaves in the foreground and a yellowy moon sailing through a twilight sky above the mountains.
Jennifer Walden continues her characteristic style, using heavily textured acrylic. She etches lines into paint that’s almost a quarter-inch thick in “Cotton Grass”. “A Guide and his Dog” depicts the pair walking down a hillside. The spaniel-like dog sports the same russets as the hillside, in brushy colour. The guide’s face is realistic and focused against the looser marks of the rest of the painting. The diagonal lines of the hillside and dog’s leash rise to the right, drawing the viewer’s eye to his face. His blue coat, the complementary colour to the rest of the painting, also secures his place as the focal point.
Nathalie Parenteau also uses acrylic, but in a smoother, more stylized way. She seems to be using a pared-down palette of turquoise and umber with white. A pair of foxes runs together in front of a landscape studded with rays of light over the mountains. White circles of “Arctic Cotton” grass hover glowing white and tinted green. That colour also appears in the throats of caribou.
Three oil painters round out the show.
Tim Schunn’s piece “Dechenla” features massing clouds in a blue sky over snowy fall-coloured mountains. Before them, a yellow streak of light appears before shadows, and a green foreground studded with what looks like little lakes.
Dominik Modlinski views the “Hess Mountains” from a viewpoint up a ridge. His assured brushstrokes describe a landscape that includes subtle greys in the clouds, misty layers of dark distant mountains and confident orange, green and yellow dabs.
Simon James Gilpin’s two pieces both use a loose, brushy technique in the foreground to describe the tundra. It includes squiggly white lines, possibly drizzled from a brush, adding just a seasoning of Jackson Pollock to his representational landscapes. The small painting looks over the shoulder of a hill to layered mountains and clouds. The larger one includes a stone and cast-off antler nestled into the tundra foreground, while distant mountains rock in the horizon’s cradle, and clouds swish across them.
The Dechenla Artist Retreat Show at the North End Gallery has been extended until Dec. 1.