Main Street Confidential

So… have you gone to the Yukon Government Main Administrative Building to see your art yet? I understand, life gets busy.

But I bet you’re on Main Street once in awhile.

There, you’ll find three Yukon Government offices that serve as public exhibition spaces from the Yukon Permanent Collection — art that belongs to the people of the Yukon.

I tracked them down and beat a path in the snow, so it’s easier for you to find them. They’re hidden above street level, so it took some sleuthing.

The first two offices are above Shoppers Drug Mart.

Take the elevator to the fourth floor. It has a glass side, so you can look over downtown as you rise to meet clay cliffs; it’s a visual experience in itself.

At the top, you will find the Energy, Mines and Resources offices. When I got there late in the afternoon, the doors were closed, so I feared the offices were, too.

Be brave and open the doors.

In the corner, by the couch, hangs an untitled watercolour by Joan Shaxon, who was an active member of the early Yukon arts scene and an art teacher in Mayo. In this painting, Shaxon looks at log cabins, with handmade extensions built onto them.

One glassed room could work as a greenhouse for tomatoes. The rooflines cross the page; there is no other landscape. But growing up between the buildings, crossing the rooflines, a balsam poplar reaches into the sky, buds thick with the promise of spring.

The ink lines and watercolour offer a friendly and accessible medium, like something out of a sketchbook. To me, this painting feels like home.

“Black Sands” by Steve Mills also hangs beside the door. This acrylic painting uses a cooler approach.

Stones made up of masked spatters, not brushstrokes, fill most of the canvas. Along the bottom, on the black background of the title, an irregular line of gold shapes glisten. These nuggets seem to be made with gold leaf.

One floor down, you’ll find the offices for the Oil and Gas branch of Energy, Mines and Resources.

Here, “Wolverine in a Trap” (1988) by Halin de Repentigny hangs on the wall. Among snow-laden branches, a hunter with a rifle leaves his snow machine to approach a wolverine with its paw caught in a trap — red and steel grey.

The snow, in many shades of white, grey and lavender, has been applied with the strong brushstrokes de Repentigny is known for. The snow machine and wolverine have been painted carefully in with a smaller brush.

Some of de Repentigny’s 2013 work is at the North End Gallery at Front Street and Steele, just a block away. These newer pieces blend the gestural work of his palette knife with finer brushwork.

Between the two entrances of Board Stiff, at 208 Main Street, there’s a little window, and a door to the left. Right up at the top of the stairs, you’ll get to the Technology and Telecommunications branch of Economic Development. They’re the folks behind the recent launch of a space-bound weather balloon, and YuKonstruct, a new space to support inventors.

And above their couch, you can view a David Thauberger painting of the Capital Hotel.

Thauberger is a well-known Saskatchewan artist, who paints hard-edged portraits of buildings that look like false fronts, in the flat prairie landscape. The sky, cerulean blue with a violet spatter, comes right down to the ground beside his rendition of the Capital, making it look like a two-dimensional stage set. Newcomers to Whitehorse who would like a glimpse of the Dirty Northern’s history might enjoy this.

These works will likely be on display until the early summer, when the Yukon Permanent Collection is rotated in the milder weather.

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