BY TARA McCARTHY

Visual art lovers can expect a season of familiar faces with a strong focus on the environment for this new 2009/2010 season. The Yukon’s own talents will adorn the walls and a number of fresh works will premiere in the Public Art Gallery throughout the next year.

Gallery director Mary Bradshaw presented the season with enthusiasm earlier this month. Things begin right away with three exhibitions opening on Sept. 10.

First comes 41° to 66°: A Regional Response to Sustainable Architecture. The exhibition features architectural plans from a group of Canada’s leading contemporary designers, including the Yukon’s Kobayashi + Zedda. Their creation of Dawson City’s Dänojá Zho Cultural Centre is highlighted in the showing.

Work by Edmonton’s Amy Loewan accompanies the architecture. Her exhibit, titled Illuminating Peace, is created from rice paper printed with typography and handwritten calligraphy in over 30 languages.

Words like “kindness” and “compassion” are used to explore human relationships. The paper is then layered and woven together to develop eight panels that result in a large paper lantern.

And third in this season opener is Nelson, B.C. artist, Lou Lynn. This retrospective of sorts, titled Retro-active, takes gallery-goers through Lynn’s early works with glass and aluminum sculptures as well as more-recent works using tools and redefining functions. The artist delves into deconstructing the line between fine art and craftsmanship.

In early November, an entirely fresh exhibit takes over the Public Gallery. Work from the seven artists involved in the LLAMA Project will be unveiled to Yukon eyes. This summer, artists from Canada and México have come together to create new works exploring the environment and collaboration. The result will be the show, Voz/Voice.

The Yukon’s Joyce Majiski is behind the project, which encourages artists to tell stories, share ideas and create at her studio and the Ted Harrison Retreat. Bradshaw says the exciting part is this YAC showing will be the premiere display of the works.

A new year brings new exhibits, and in January the space will be shared between two Yukon artists, along with some quirky creativity out of Manitoba.

Locals are most likely familiar with Lara Melnik’s polymer clay creations, from her brooches to her large-scale landscapes built out of vibrant hues. Her exhibit, Polychrome, digs into how she deals with the winter’s darkness. And the answer: through bright colours and playful shapes. Plus, she’ll invite viewers to interact with pieces and alter their appearances.

In addition to Melnik’s work, KIAC teacher Veronica Verkley is currently working on her exhibit, SEAM. The multidisciplinary artist is known for working in a range of media, but this time she’ll focus on the environment by literally using garbage and found objects to comment on lifestyle and the natural world.

And the final in this grouping is Manitoba’s Chris Reid. In Bunny Days, The Third Chapter, she demonstrates her whimsical characters that act as commentary on satire, anxiety and playfulness. Known for images of screaming toast and buildings on chicken legs, the artist zeroes in on bunnies in soft sculpture and more for this series.

Just before the summer hits, YAC Public Gallery once again showcases some local talent with an exhibit from Nicole Bauberger.

The encaustic artist has been traveling all over the territory and beyond to develop a more-intimate relationship with her surroundings. Sitting in the back of her truck, she painted, sketched and thus captured it all in her work. Bauberger will now display the show titled, Listening to the Mountain.

Also, in late March, comes Spontaneous Generation from Elaine Whittaker. The Toronto-based artist explores art, science and the environment to create her mixed-media masterpieces. Combining humour with horror, Whittaker wonders how we’ll face the daunting future.

For more information on the 2009/2010 season, click over to www.yukonartscentre.com.