Val Hodgson has painted a portrait of Bob Atkinson, Willow Bob, in oils.
Atkinson is affectionately known as “Willow Bob” for the bent-willow chairs and other rustic furniture he makes.
A portrait in oils is “usually reserved for the elite,” Hodgson observes in her artist statement. But in her portraits, she seeks “to celebrate the extraordinary within the ordinary”.
Grey stubble stands out on Atkinson’s chin. Gestural brushstrokes describe his wispy hair, moustache and scraggly eyebrows. He wears a T-shirt layered under a sweatshirt.
He looks like a Yukoner.
Hodgson’s portrait is one of 13 pieces in Out of the Void, a show of the work chosen this year by the Friends of the Gallery Society for the Yukon Permanent Art Collection.
On behalf of Yukoners, the board of the society chooses which pieces to purchase for the Yukon Permanent Art Collection.
For the last selection, the Yukon government increased the spending to $25,000 from $10,000, “enabling the Friends of the Gallery Society responsible for art selection, for the collection, to purchase additional art including larger pieces.”
The Canada Council assisted Friends of the Gallery with the purchase of Veronica Verkley’s Landscape with Horse. Verkley created this life-sized horse sculpture at the Ted Harrison Artist Retreat, in 2006.
Interestingly, it depicts only a horse. This leads to the assumption that the wide variety of found materials it’s made of, all drawn from Yukon dumps, represents the landscape.
Out of the Void includes a curatorial statement, from Heather LeDuc, that ties the work together under the theme of how the works deal with or are inspired by a void of some kind.
In Mary Caesar’s Ahda Cho Stick Gambling, a figure sits in the middle of a big crowd of people. It’s hard to tell if it is a man or a woman. He (or she) wears a busy purple T-shirt. But, with closed eyes and raised hands, he (or she) conveys a sense of space amid the festival, a sense of the individual at home in the midst of community and culture.
A silence full of attention pervades Catherine Deer’s Listeners. Drawn in graphite and charcoal, on a huge piece of paper, an Inuk hunter above the ice, seen from below, listens with his eyes closed.
Below his feet, below the ice, a crowd of walruses also listen. Deer has added a blue watercolour wash to the bottom third of the drawing. Its variegated application conveys the mottled quality of light through water.
The show also includes pieces by Mary Dolman, Mitch Holder, James Kirby, Joanne Jackson Johnson, Helen O’Connor, Ken Thomas and Owen Williams, all selected and purchased this year.
The Yukon Permanent Art Collection now includes about 300 pieces.
Selections are shown at 22 different locations throughout the territory in government buildings, schools and old-age homes. Copper Ridge residence for the elderly enjoys works from the collection installed there. This year, they’ll start hanging work in McDonald Lodge, in Dawson City.
The pieces are rotated twice a year.
Next time you’re at the Whitehorse Public Library, walk back to the government buildings behind. Work from the collection is on display in the lobby.
You can see Out of the Void at the Yukon Arts Centre Community Gallery until August 13.