From May to September you can find Riley Brennan all around Dawson, digging in the dirt as she skillfully helps to make the town a place that the Cities in Bloom tour usually compliments. Her gardening business keeps her creative side happy all summer long.
Come winter she settles down in her home on the Midnight Dome to exercise another kind of creativity, an art form she picked up a few years back when she attended a two-day workshop at KIAC.
Mosaic-making goes back many thousands of years and involves making images with assorted bits of material. Brennan uses glass, ceramic tile, glass gems, bits of mirror, money, mammoth ivory, pieces of silver chain and other elements to create her pictures.
Thirty-one of her mosaic creations are on exhibit in the Dawson City Museum’s audio-visual room. Entitled Shattered: A Northern Narrative in Art Mosaics, the exhibit opened as part of the Riverside Art Festival in mid-August and will continue until Dec. 6.
Her choice of subjects includes familiar Dawson landmarks such as St. Paul’s Anglican Church, the kissing buildings on Third Avenue, and the Yukon Saw Mill. Her fondness for ravens is evident in several pictures, too. A stark image of blackened tree trunks accentuates the fireweed and evening sun of “After the Fire.”
There are cabins in the woods and cabins in the snow and a very detailed psychedelic panel of swirling images called “How I Got Thru January.”
While many of the images are of moderate size and regular shape, the “Raven Panorama” is 42 inches long by 5 inches tall, while “That Crazy Beautiful Town” (showing Front Street) is four feet long by one foot.
There is also one quadriptych: four one-foot square panels showing the sky in “The Four Seasons of Dawson.”
“Somehow I find this medium of cutting, breaking and gluing to be a calming process,” Brennan says in her artist’s statement. “In the same way some folks do jigsaw puzzles, I like to ‘paint’ scenes with glass, tile and found objects.
“I dabble in other mediums, but working in glass is a medium I truly enjoy. I find the process happy and meditative.”
So involved is she that last year she invested in her own glass fusing kiln and now she can make her own glass.
“A whole new world has opened up.”
She has been displaying at Dancing Moose and elsewhere for a couple of years, but this is her biggest exhibition so far. Half of the pieces in the show have been borrowed from private collections for this exhibit.