What would bring people into a local, northern art gallery in the middle of January? This was the question facing the Dawson City Arts Society (DCAS), a volunteer based, non-profit organization, when they opened up the ODD Gallery in Dawson City in 1999.

The answer was a DCAS members’ exhibition, featuring local professional and non-professional artists.

“People might not come out to view a stranger’s work in the cold month of January, but they will come out to see their neighbour’s,” says Evan Rensch, current interim director for the ODD Gallery.

The first members exhibition opened in 2000 and was titled “New Beginnings.” From then on, an exhibition was organized every two years.

Weeks before the show, which takes place this year from Jan. 24to Feb. 22, the gallery director sends out a call for submissions to the membership. Members are encouraged to submit two small works by Jan. 15.

Then, keeping in mind that there is a finite amount of space in the gallery, the 8-member committee selects as many pieces of art as possible for the show.

While most submissions come from the current list of DCAS members, Rensch wants to try something a little different this year. He is attempting to contact previous DCAS members who have left town or are not involved in the society anymore. He is naming the show “Mining the Archives.”

Local writer Dan Dowhal was asked to contribute, as well: he will interpret the various works with words, tying all the themes together and providing a written work of art.

Rensch is also producing a brochure of the exhibition that participating artists can take home at the end of the show as a memento.

“An art show is a temporary thing,” he says. “Work comes together on a wall and then it’s done; it’s like it never happened.

“These are totally diverse artists all in the same room. The brochure is a written record and visual documentation of their work — it should be recorded.”

While Rensch only has a few submissions so far, he is confident that the gallery will be full of art by the time the show opens. He points out that last minute submissions are fairly typical.

“These are people from all walks of life,” he says. “They’re not all professionals and must therefore work their art into their daily lives, which doesn’t always leave them a lot of time. We try hard to accommodate as best we can.”

The ODD Gallery Members Exhibition opens Jan. 24 and runs until Feb. 22. There will be an artists’ talk and reception Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, please contact 993-5005, or visit www.kiac.ca/oddgallery

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