The Yukon prides itself on the talented resident artists who portray our vistas, wild creatures and northern life. This October, the Heavy Metal North Art Exhibition will bring Yukoners something  darker, heavier, and a lot more fantastical than the usual fare.

Seven Yukon fantasy artists — some showing their work publicly for the first time — have been working for over a year to bring us a show that explores world mythologies, science fiction and fantasy, horror, comedy noir, roleplay gaming and more, all set to an immersive rock and metal soundscape curated by the artists.

I spoke with CC Deranged (Chris Caldwell), the artist responsible for forming the group, to talk about the show and supporting Yukon art that goes beyond what she calls our typical “flora, fauna, scenery and politics.”

On the Status Quo of Yukon Art

CC: Most of the galleries here tend to cater to tourism, and tourists want a piece of the Yukon they can take back with them. But we’re 30 years behind the rest of the world. Graphic art, illustration, comic illustration: these are highly valued and a huge part of mainstream culture and modern media.

In 1979-80 I tried to show a few of my fantasy pieces locally and got rolling eyeballs and “Gee, do you know how to draw a moose?”

So I sort of hid my art in the closet and worked toward what the Yukon likes to be represented as, and I’ve had a great time. I didn’t realize there were other artists up here who also did fantasy art— until YukomiCon. As soon as I walked in I recognized it as the kind of art show I used to attend in Gastown back in the ‘70s and missed up here.

On Fostering Local Opportunities for Artist Development

CC: I know of a lot of artists who end up in frustration because they have nowhere to show their (fantasy) art… so they leave. They struggle their way through the Vancouver scene, or go down to the States. So I figured if we can build a venue, someplace where people can show their creative art — fantasy art — and start a foundation for exposing their art locally, you can get enough experience under your belt to take your career to the next level.

Do Yukoners have an Appetite for the Fantastic?

CC: There are a lot of people moving to the territory now who have different tastes in art. They’re not only interested in bringing the wilderness into their homes, they’re interested in reflecting their own cultures.

So Heavy Metal North is also a market test: does anybody local like this stuff? If so, how many? Is it worth it to encourage the development of this kind of art within our community? If you want to make a space on the bus, you’ve got to get in there and make a space and that’s what we’re doing. Hopefully we’ll begin to have more amazing artists crawling out of their closets saying, “I do cool stuff, too!”

The Heavy Metal North Art Exhibit runs October 14 to 16 at Triple J’s Music, Tattoos and Piercing, with sound and video sponsored by Eric’s Audio Video. The show is produced by C. Caldwell Productions.