It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that the emphasis now given to the arts during the Discovery Days celebrations here have revived a week that was once in danger of dying out altogether.
The combination of literary, historic, sports, and arts related activities have created a five-day visitor attraction filled with annual events that seem to be chugging along nicely.
In a recent column I celebrated the literary side of things, with a tour along the Writers’ Block. This week I want to take another walk around town, but this time the emphasis is on the visual arts.
It’s only fair to mention that much of this energy has blossomed from the seeds planted by the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, which just celebrated the 12th year of its successful Yukon Riverside Arts Festival.
I’m not sure just when the annual Gallery Hop sprouted from this starter plant, but it’s turned into a successful event of its own, and it encourages both visitors and locals to wander the town for an evening and drop into places they might otherwise miss out on.
One of the shortcomings of the Dawson visitor experience is that the evenings are basically left to Diamond Tooth Gerties.
There are three evening shows there, but if you aren’t a fan of slot machines and other forms of gambling, you might just want something else to do, and evening fare is thin on the ground since the lamentable cancellation of the shows at the Palace Grand in the early 2000s.
This year there were ten sites to visit on the evening stroll. Some were galleries and some were not. I didn’t get to all of them, but those that I did each offered something a little different to the taste.
The ODD Gallery in the KIAC (or Oddfellows) Building was showcasing its annual Natural and the Manufactured event—art that looks at the interactions between humanity and nature.
At the Confluence Gallery in the Yukon School of Visual Art, there was a display of local artwork featuring a wide variety of styles and mediums. It is this show that actually justifies my writing this column, since it will continue to be open Thursday to Sunday until September 9.
Another show that will be continuing into the fall is the quilt exhibit at the Dawson City Museum, featuring the work of Joanne Braga and Bonnie Barber. It’s brightened up the theatre room considerably.
Dancing Moose on Front Street was headlining a display of Shirley Pennell’s fabric art. To see more of that now, you’d have to drive up to Shirley’s Sign of the Raven Gallery on Pierre Berton Crescent.
Fortymile Gold featured some new paintings by both Halin deRepentigny and Nicole Bauberger, as well as the goldsmithing work of owner Leslie Chapman. There’s not a lot of room in the store, but it’s packed with things to see.
At the Palace Grand Theatre it was voting time for Parks Canada’s photography contest. The two categories (Dawson City and Goldfields) each had three finalists and the evening’s voting would settle on the winners. As it happens they were Angela Bonnici and Emily Mason.
It was at this point that, after a busy day, which had already included the Authors on Eighth event (see my August 23 column online at www.whatsupyukon.com), I ran out of steam and missed seeing the displays at the Conservation Klondike Society (our recycling centre), the Westminster Hotel and the Billy Goat Pub (or Bar El Cabrito as it was called that eve, reflecting its one-night thematic transformation into an Argentine watering hole).
That’s one of the things you have to remember about Dawson. You probably can’t do it all even if you live here, and visitors simply have no choice but to come again.