Figures from Suzanne Paleczny’s Human/Nature are installed at the gallery in the Yukon Arts Centre Aug. 31. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News)

Yukon Arts Centre kicks off its 25th season

‘It feels like we have a lot of big, anchor Yukon shows this year’

After a quarter of a century, the Yukon Arts Centre is preparing for its latest season of shows in the territory.

Like the 24 seasons before it, the YAC’s 25th year will bring performances and exhibits that are custom fit for the Yukon.

“It feels like we have a lot of big, anchor Yukon shows this year, and then other interesting (Outside) artists to place with them,” says gallery curator Mary Bradshaw. “A lot of times it’s potentially the other way around.”

Whitehorse artist Suzanne Paleczny’s Human/Nature exhibit is literally made from the Yukon. In the same spirit as her 2015 piece Icarus Descending, Paleczny used driftwood found in the territory to create larger-than-life human figures that will populate the gallery floor. This forest of surreal wood people will be surrounded by five wall-sized paintings that show a more realist view of humans. Human/Nature will run Sept. 7 to Nov. 26.

In December, the gallery will pivot towards a more minimalist show with Tlingit artist Mark Preston’s Filling the Void. Preston takes all the deep greens and reds out of the traditionally colourful west coast First Nations formline art to create large, all-white pieces that still show the Tlingit art through engraved relief.

Preston explores how little needs to be seen and yet still be identifiably Tlingit, says Bradshaw.

“How much of it can you strip down, but it’s still that essence of Tlingit art?”

On the theatre side, artistic director Eric Epstein can hardly contain his excitement for bringing up the lavish musical theatre production Onegin.

Based on the classic Russian poem by Alexander Pushkin, Onegin was adapted into a rousing musical by Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille and debuted last season at the Vancouver Arts Club.

“It just took the town by storm. People loved it,” says Epstein.

Co-creator Veda Hille is no stranger to the North. Hille was invited up to the YAC in 2002 to develop her budding talent in musical theatre.

“She was a singer-songwriter, but had some interest in (theatre),” Epstein said, “so we helped put her on the road to that.”

She was back in the territory in 2003 to direct a production of Hair. She was also part of the YAC’s 20th anniversary show. Hille’s other well-known musical, Do You Want What I Have Got: A Craigslist Cantata, came up in 2012.

“She’s practically an honorary Yukoner,” Epstein says.

Onegin will be on a whirlwind tour from January to April and will show up in Whitehorse Feb. 1.

“We were lucky enough to snag a piece of their time in the middle of that tour,” says Epstein

Opening next week, Busted Up: A Yukon Story is what Epstein calls “a portrait of the Yukon.”

Composed verbatim from interviews of ordinary Yukoners, Busted Up tells the story of what it means to be a Yukoner from the perspective of 33 different characters played by seven actors.

“They’ve taken a sense of Yukon identity, if you will, and crafted that into a play,” Epstein says.

The interviews were collected as part of The Yukon Verbatim Project, which travelled to eight communities and sat down with 60 individuals. Whitehorse’s Open Pit Theatre produced the play which runs Sept. 13-23. (See more on Busted Up on page 16.)

Contact Joel Krahn at joel.krahn@yukon-news.com