Aubyn O’Grady communicates via morse code using smoke from a vape as part of a new art project. The piece, titled The Cloud, will be shown at the School of Visual Art during Discovery Days weekend in Dawson City. (Submitted)

Discovery Days kick off in Dawson City

‘It’s such an underutilized space. Probably because it’s technically a highway’

The hardest part of planning Discovery Days this year was fitting everything into only five days, says Andy Cunningham, marketing and events assistant with the Klondike Visitors Association.

“There were just so many things this year, which was great,” he told the News. “It’s a good problem to have. There’s a little something for everyone, no matter what you’re into.”

Now in its 18th year, Cunningham said Discovery Days, which kicked off Aug. 16 and runs through to Aug. 20, have introduced some new components while still offering events the holiday is known for.

The parade, for example, starts at Front and Duke on Saturday at 11:30 a.m., and the fastball tournament takes place at Minto Park from Friday to Sunday.

Spruce Gerberding, president of the fastball association, said six teams are participating in the tournament. There are four teams from Whitehorse, including the Jays, the AFD Angels, the Pirates, and Balls Deep. There are also two Dawson City teams, the Dingbats and the Lambs, though fans may know the former by its old name — the Sacrificial Lambs.

“They were sort of pulled together one year to fill space, but now they’re pretty good so they’re just the Lambs,” he said.

Gerberding said the first game is at 6 p.m. on Aug. 17. It will be followed by a homerun derby, which pits heavy-hitters against each other in a competition to swing for the fences.

The playoffs take place Sunday.

At the same time, the Riverside Arts Festival, organized by the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC), will be taking place at various locations throughout the city from Thursday to Sunday. This year, it includes two nights of performances by The Sadies.

Those shows, happening at the Palace Grand, are part of a fundraiser for KIAC.

Cunningham said KIAC is doing one fundraiser a month for 20 months leading up to its 20th anniversary on Jan. 1, 2020. As the August fundraiser, the Sadies show is one of the few ticketed events, at $25 for general admission.

“That (show will be) amazing because it’s been a number of years since the Sadies have played here and everyone’s obviously excited,” said Cunningham.

The rest of the Riverside events take place all over town. There’s a Thursday night gallery hop, an arts demonstration tent at Riverside Park, an artists’ market at the community events shelter, and talks from artists including Michael McCormack, Josh Winkler, and Dawson artist Aubyn O’Grady.

O’Grady, who created Dawson’s League of Lady Wrestlers and who was named the new program director of the Yukon School of Visual Arts earlier this year, will be debuting a new work called The Cloud.

She said it’s has a double meaning in that it references the cloud (the one that all our internet data goes into) as well as clouds of smoke from e-cigarettes.

She worked on the concept this summer with fellow Dawson artist, Amy Ball, after months where internet service was basically non-existent.

O’Grady said she started talking with people about how they could message each other and access the cloud without data. The discussion led to O’Grady and Ball translating text messages into morse code and communicating with each other via vape clouds.

The taped performance will show at KIAC Aug. 16 and 17.

O’Grady calls the project silly, but serious. She said that’s what she aims for with her work — something that makes art accessible to a broad range of people.

“I like making art that my dad would understand,” she said. “I’ve always been fascinated by the art world but also felt a little bit on the outside of it, or uninterested in doing things that didn’t have some sort of core personal meaning.”

She likes the potential within that kind of work, to engage people who might not otherwise be seeking out art, or commentary on certain themes or issues.

“There’s tremendous pedagogical potential. Teaching and engaging people in things they don’t necessarily think about or engage in like feminism or communication in these public art performances.”

O’Grady said Riverside is always a great venue for new projects because KIAC will support pretty experimental stuff, and give people the space to try out new ideas.

Sara Enns, for example, will be performing live music on the ferry.

“It’s such an underutilized space,” said O’Grady. “Probably because it’s technically a highway.”

For a complete schedule of events, visit dawsoncity.ca

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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