Play Makers: Phone-book art

Some very-familiar art is now on display at the Old Fire Hall in downtown Whitehorse.

Art that every Yukoner can say at one point was in their home.

And while it may have spent most of the time tucked away in the kitchen drawer, there is no denying its popularity.

So much so that, this year, NorthwesTel has dedicated an entire visual art exhibit to some of the most-popular phone directory covers the company has had over the years.

“It was a big success and people just loved it,” explains Sylvia Anderson, manager of community investment for NorthwesTel, when speaking about the two similar exhibits held in Iqaluit and Yellowknife, earlier this year.

“It works well because you get to view all the pieces in one space.”

The exhibit showcases 19 works of art from the company collection, all created by Yukon and northern British Columbia artists, including this year’s directory art, which Anderson ranks among her favourites.

“I absolutely love this year’s cover by Daphne Mennell,” says Anderson.

“I love the colours, the movement; visually, it is absolutely stunning.”

Complementing Mennell’s talent is artwork by the likes of Jim Logan, Valerie Hodgson, Shirlee Frost, Justin Smith and Jim Robb, to name a few.

“That’s part of the appeal with the exhibit, the diversity of the work,” explains Anderson. “We have amateur artists and professional artists whose work has made the cover and that work is again being displayed.”

It was 1983, following a suggestion by then Whitehorse Mayor, Flo Whyard, that the work of local artists first began being displayed on NorthwesTel phone books.

She wanted something to be done to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Alaska Highway.

This resulted in the commissioning of the spectacular Ted Harrison painting that was featured on the 1983 Yukon and northern BC directory.

And while Harrison’s is among the pieces on display, Anderson notes that, unfortunately, not every cover is included in the exhibit.

“There just isn’t the space, unfortunately,” says Anderson. “Perhaps there will be another exhibit in a few years where we can display the others.”

The exhibit continues until August 24. It can be viewed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.

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