Look Way Back or Look Ahead

It’s nothing new to hear that the Yukon is filled with both loyal, long-time residents and transient citizens. And whether from near, local or far, the turnover and mass exodus of community members comes and goes just like the seasons.

Dawson City’s population swells each summer, and then those that stay bid adieu to those that move on. And the Confluence Members’ Art Gallery perhaps inadvertently plays off this bittersweet sentiment with the latest and final exhibit of the season, Come and Gone.

Once simply named the Dawson City Art Society Members’ Gallery, the generous-sized room in the KIAC/SOVA building offers up its walls to its members each summer. All ages, all mediums and all abilities are encouraged to submit their work.

Now in its third season, the volunteer-run gallery works on themes to co-ordinate each exhibition.

Past themes include environment, harmony/discord, alchemy and break-up. Rules don’t exactly apply: the call for submissions for Come and Gone simply asked that artists “look way back or look ahead” and “investigate the patterns that determine events by considering history or postulate on future events”.

Whether it be the interpretation of going Outside, driving the Klondike Highway or playfully symbolizing sexuality, Come and Gone more importantly provides a glimpse at what Dawson artists are cooking up.

Dawne Mitchell’s photograph, titled Going “Outside”, explores landscape photography from a different height. The colour image demonstrates a bird’s-eye view of soft blues, pinks and white hues strewn across mountaintops while a brilliant moon is like a small beacon of light dwarfed in the expansive sky.

Meanwhile, Andrew Macdonald’s photograph, Treasure Trove, hangs at the other end of the room. It depicts a massive heap of discarded items seen from behind an imperfect wooden fence.

Photography is just one of the media covered in the exhibit. Two large-scale acrylic pieces by Jackie Olson stand out against the stark white walls.

One of the works, Inner Turmoil, presents an almost-haunting image of figures that seem to dance in a depth of deep, dark hues. Reds, blues and greens break through different parts of the abstract work to create a complex and colourful scene. Inner Turmoil and Olson’s other contribution, Natural Energy, were created in the early 1990s.

A few other pieces in Come and Gone also revisit the past from some familiar artists. John Steins contributed a pair of works to the show. One is a digital-media/monotype piece from 2005, titled Savior. Encased in a strong metal shadow box, with large bolts, the image portrays a figure constructed from the bleeding of a variety of colours.

In addition to that, a 2008 woodcut of Steins’ also hangs in the gallery. The small black-and-white work depicts Hillary Clinton, the current U.S. Secretary of State. The timely piece is humorously titled Billary.

And while nearly all of the pieces in the exhibit are two-dimensional, artist Amy Ball breaks that consistency with her 2009 mixed-media piece, 1 Million Free eBooks. A hardcover book sits open atop a single plinth with the words “technology” and “obsolete” cut into its pages and popping off the surface.

Specific letters are carefully circled on the pages of prose and a pouch-like portion is pinned to the book to hang down the front. Stray pieces from the dismantling of the hardcover are strewn on the floor.

Over a dozen artists contributed work to the show and each offers a refreshingly different style and depth from the next. Altogether it creates a cohesive, yet eclectic exhibit to end the gallery’s season before the new crop of visual-art students fills the school.

Come and Gone is on display until Sept. 5 in the KIAC/SOVA building at Third and Queen. To catch up on past shows and keep tabs on the artwork of the Dawson City Art Society members, click over to www.kiacblog.wordpress.com.

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