Artrepreneur: Solo Shows in a Cooperative Environment

Way in the farthest back room at the Yukon Artists @ Work Gallery, a series of shows has been planned to span the next two years.

The back sun room of the gallery posed problems for hanging artwork: “It was all glass and tin,” explains the group’s founding chair and current gallery manager, Harreson Tanner.

With the help of the group’s carpentry-skilled members, Tanner renovated the room. The team covered the tin with white walls and created several movable folding panels that can cover the windows and add considerably to the room’s wall space.

The room housed AIDS and the Arts: Keeping the Flame Burning, a commemorative project in partnership with Blood Ties Four Directions, on Dec. 1. Sales raised money for Blood Ties’ programs.

On Feb. 29, the room blossomed another themed group show. Members created work in black and white for Polarity. Many members used a multitude of materials to explore this stark and graphic theme.

However, solo shows star in the vision for this room. Individual members have booked month-long shows over the next two years. Eight months of the year will be assigned to these shows. Most openings will take place the first Friday of the month.

Daphne Mennell will open Moving on with Colour (a working title) on April 11. She will continue to explore colour in oils through local spring and winter scenes, some drawn from the Carcross-Skagway road, others from imagination.

Mennell took part in a show called Colour this past fall at Arts Underground with fellow [email protected] members Jeanine Baker and Lise Merchant.

That got her “wound up again”, so she needed to book her next show to keep the momentum going. After the Arts Underground show, she found that even if she applied for another show immediately, she wouldn’t get in for a year and a half.

“It’s hard to find a good big space that’s not a restaurant,” says Mennell,who prefers to show in a gallery space that’s devoted to the art.

She points to how quickly the spaces in the schedule filled for the next two years: “It’s meeting a need.”

In May, John Boivin will show new acrylic landscapes in the back room.

Then in June, Joyce Majiski will share her show space with Zea Morvitz and her partner Tim Graveson from California. Morvitz is one of the director/curators of Gallery Route One in Point Reyes, California. Majiski has shown there twice.

Morvitz and Graveson joined Majiski and some others on a rafting trip down the Upper Alsek River. They spent a few days at the face of the Lowell Glacier, where it calves into Lowell Lake in Kluane Park.

They will collaborate on an exhibition called Sublimation. Morvitz and Majiski will do two collaborative bookworks as well as individual pieces addressing the theme of glaciers.

Majiski thinks “the solo room is a great option for artists”. She values the fact that it’s part of a professional gallery with an established reputation.

Majiski finds it a perfect venue to try something new in a supportive venue.

On a practical level, the gallery is staffed and open all week in June so the exposure is good. [email protected] is already known and considered a destination.

The small size of the room is no obstacle to Majiski. That means there is less pressure to create a large body of work.

“I think it rounds out one of the [email protected] initial mandates to encourage artists’ experimentation and growth,” says Majiski.

During the summer, the gallery needs all the wall space it can get for all the artists to strut their stuff to summer visitors. But in September, Harreson Tanner has signed up for a show.

Tanner is one of the artists selected to visit Siberia this spring. He hopes to convince fellow [email protected] members Bud Young and Joyce Majiski, who are also going to Siberia, to put together a show based on memories of their trip.

Show scheduler and mosaicist Chris Scherbarth hopes the series of shows in the back room “will give our patrons a deeper appreciation for the talents and range of individual artists.” It will also encourage “participating members to push their limits and strut their stuff.”

Tanner loves the educational aspect of the space. Artists who might not have had a great deal of experience mounting solo shows on their own are given a chance to do so in a professional yet supportive environment.

Tanner also observes that events like the openings for these shows will give Yukoners a reason to make the trip out to the gallery in McCrae.

Polarity continues until March 30 and there will be black and white work up in that room through the first week of April.

Mennell’s show opens April 11 and continues until the end of April.

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