An acrylic on canvas painting called Northern Legacy by Joyce Majiski hangs in the College Bistro. A public reception opening the show will be held Monday, Nov. 6 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Art exhibit at Yukon College’s Hilltop Bistro gives local artists a chance to shine

The exhibit features the work of nine artists, all members of the Yukon Artists @ Work co-op.

The latest art exhibit at the Yukon College’s Hilltop Bistro is giving a group of local artists their time to shine.

In collaboration with the college, the Yukon Artists @ Work (YA@W) co-op has mounted a show featuring the work of nine of its members. The art on display covers a wide range of media, including oil paintings, fabric work and sculptures.

Show co-curator Joyce Majiski said the exhibit is meant to serve as a “taster” for the work that can be found at YA@W’s gallery in downtown Whitehorse and attract people to the location on Fourth Avenue who otherwise may not drop by.

“There are always new people coming to Whitehorse and we all take turns working the front desk at the (YA@W gallery), so yeah, there are times when I’m doing my shift that I meet people that have been living in Whitehorse for a year or maybe even more and they’ve never been into the gallery,” Majiski said.

“They say, ‘We’ve walked by, we see it, we just haven’t come in.’ There are a lot of people who live here that don’t know the local artists and don’t know about the gallery.”

To put the show together, Majiski, whose work is also featured in the exhibit, and fellow co-curators Sandra Storey and Don Watt, put a call-out to YA@W members over the summer. Everyone who responded — all happen to be women, by pure coincidence — ended up in the show, Majiski said, explaining that there were no criteria for the artists to meet or themes their work had to conform to in order to be included.

“It was more just to feature members from the gallery, from the co-op, and just to have a different space.… Not everyone knows the Yukon Artists @ Work gallery, so it just seemed like a really good venue and a way to expose a new crowd to who we are and where we are,” she said.

“It’s a very organic way of doing things, actually.”

Long-time Whitehorse artist Nicole Bauberger, who has had solo shows at the bistro before, is among the YA@W members who answered the call. Her contribution to the exhibit is part of her own travelling show Get There From Here, a series of oil paintings featuring roads cutting through landscapes that she painted while travelling.

“I paint those in my vehicle from the side of the road and I paint the road and the landscape it goes through, partly because I was painting up in the Tombstones a lot and while painting those mountains was wonderful, I realized I couldn’t get to that landscape without driving,” Bauberger said of her inspiration for the project.

“While it wasn’t a lie to paint those landscapes, it felt like leaving the road out entirely was a bit of a lie of omission…. The landscape almost always involves the road in one way or another, and it’s not a completely good thing. There are pros and cons to the road, but as a culture, we take it for granted and we’re completely dependent on it for (our) lives and livelihoods and groceries, so it seemed like it was a worthwhile thing to think about.”

Bauberger added that she thought the Yukon is an “awesome” place to be an artist.

“Yukoners really love having a strong artistic community, so there’s a lot of support for things like art funding and opportunities to demonstrate your art in public, which leads to more people feeling connected to art,” she said, pointing out events like Whitehorse’s annual Arts in the Park festival and Dawson’s Yukon Riverside Arts Festival.

“(These events) support artists making their art in a way that’s accessible to the public and that is part of creating a climate where art isn’t this weird thing practiced off in a corner by weird people but it’s normal and I feel like Yukoners really embrace their artists,” Bauberger said.

That embrace of art is essential to keep a place — any place, in the Yukon or not — alive and lively, Majiski said.

“Artists are part of the fabric of the culture of a place, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world,” she said.

“Artists and creators are the voice of culture, so if you want to have a thriving culture, you need to take part in it and support the people who did it, whether it’s going to an exhibition or going to a musical or concert or whatever. If you participate and support the people that are doing that work, then they stay around.”

The bistro will be hosting a public reception celebrating the show Monday, Nov. 6 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The exhibit will run until mid-December, with all artwork on sale through YA@W.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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