For Yukoners looking to get a taste of the wilderness in the middle of downtown Whitehorse while also possibly getting some Christmas shopping down, the perfect opportunity is just around the corner.
The Yukon branch of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is hosting its second annual art pop-up shop at its downtown office on Dec. 7. The event features a roster of local artists who all draw inspiration from the land for their work, and will have their wares for browsing and for sale.
CPAWS Yukon is also holding its winter open house at the same time.
CPAWS Yukon’s outreach manager, Jody Overduin, said last year’s inaugural pop-up was a resounding success, with the organization’s office, located in a repurposed house, filled with curious attendees all evening.
“(There were) lots of people that we haven’t seen at events that we’ve hosted at our office before, so lots of new faces and people seemed to be having a really good time and we really enjoyed it, hosting it,” she said.
“It’s a really cozy event, all the different nooks and crannies get kind of transformed into these creative booths, it’s not your typical booth layout. There’s some pretty creative use of desks and shelves and that sort of thing throughout the office.”
The event was held on a weeknight last year; this time, it’s taking place during the day on a Saturday. While a weeknight was convenient for people working downtown who wanted to drop by after work, Overduin said CPAWS Yukon heard from people who live out of town who wanted to attend but couldn’t make it in.
Artist Dee Bailey, who creates textured paintings by incorporating clay sculpture work into her pieces, said she was “quite excited” to be part of the pop-up as it was a “really good fit” for her and her work.
Bailey originally moved to the Yukon to work for a wilderness guiding company and described herself as an avid hiker and paddler, someone who loves being and creating art outdoors in “spectacular places.”
“My ultimate goal is to encourage viewers to reconnect with nature through art and most of my artwork depicts Yukon nature and wildlife and I love working outdoors and just making art about experiencing outdoors … so it’s really in line with my art practice,” she said of the event.
“We just have so many places to explore here and I feel so lucky.”
Watercolour painter Stephanie Ryan, who was also part of the inaugural 2018 pop-up, has been a longtime CPAWS Yukon collaborator and said the Yukon’s natural beauty was what inspired her to begin making art in the first place.
“It’s so accessible … You don’t have to go far in the Yukon to feel wilderness, which I love,” she said, adding that she’s looking forward to chatting with attendees and other artists about their experiences with and being in nature.
For traditional First Nations artist Karen Nicloux, who will be selling fur mitts and hats as well as beaded dreamcatchers at the pop-up, the wilderness represents not just a beautiful place, but a way of life.
Nicloux said she grew up hunting, fishing and trapping with her brother and father, while her mother taught her how to bead and use furs and hides to “made beautiful things and traditional clothing.” Her brother and his wife now operate a trapline, from which she gets a large portion of the fur she uses in her work.
“I’m just looking forward to (the pop-up), it’s the first time I’ve done it,” she said.
“I believe it’s important … to support our trappers and our traditional way of life. It’s very imperative that we understand First Nations people use all of the animal, you know? And my brother does all his own skinning, trapping … and tanning. So it goes from his trapline to his house to me.”
Other artists and vendors who will be at the pop-up include photographer Robert Postma, writer Asad Chishti and Free Pour Jenny’s.
Besides providing the venue, CPAWS Yukon will also have its own information booth at the event covering the work its been doing over the past year.
Overduin said the main focus will be on the organization’s work in advocating for the protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling, but other highlights include the historic signing of the Peel watershed plan and subsequent celebrations as well as a trip down the Beaver River over the summer with filmmakers and Na-Cho Nyäk Dun citizens.
(A land use plan is currently in the works for the Beaver River watershed, which covers more than 5,000 square kilometres north of Keno City. ATAC Resources has proposed building a mining road through the region.)
CPAWS Yukon staff are looking forward to the event, she added.
“I think it’s going to be a fun day and hopefully we have a steady stream of folks coming in and out of the office,” Overduin said.
The CPAWS Yukon pop-up art shop and open house is taking place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 7 at 506 Steele St.
Contact Jackie Hong at