No & for Whitehorse

In 1966, Iain Baxter& wrapped a whole house in plastic bags, right down to the turds floating in the toilet. Canada's first conceptual artist, who added the '&' onto his last name a few years ago, called it Bagged Place and has been toying with ideas of place ever since.

In 1966, Iain Baxter& wrapped a whole house in plastic bags, right down to the turds floating in the toilet.

Canada’s first conceptual artist, who added the ‘&’ onto his last name a few years ago, called it Bagged Place and has been toying with ideas of place ever since.

Now, more than 40 years later, Baxter& is touring with Sense of Place, a print exhibition that opened at the Yukon Arts Centre Public Gallery this month.

The show is an eclectic collection of prints by artists from across Canada and the US.

The works weren’t necessarily created for the exhibit and tie loosely into the theme, at best.

Searching through the works for a piece by Baxter&, I came across a close up sketch of a middle-aged couple by Toronto artist George Hawkins. There was a clothesline with three sun hats and a human head hung out to dry by Windor’s Victor Romao and a sketch of a bear sitting on his bum watching a train go past by Rory O’Conner, from Tecumseh, Ontario.

The panel explains that Bear explores the displacement of nature in place of industry.

In one corner of the gallery, two wood panels lie on the floor, the shapes of a dead weasel, songbirds, mice, a partridge and a flying squirrel scanned onto them.

Titled What the Cat Brought Home, the work explores Quebec artist Lisa Driver’s relationship with her feline.

Another piece examines masculinity through the sketch of a bull, while a yellow T-shirt with a swing-set drawn onto it is meant to allow the wearer to take this childhood sense of place everywhere.

Baxter&‘s big blowup ‘&’ is on the back of the show’s catalogue.

But it’s not part of the Yukon’s exhibit.

In fact, it turns out Baxter& has nothing in the exhibit at all.

“I was hoping for the ‘&,’” said gallery director Mary Bradshaw.

Although none of his works are in the show, Baxter& still came to Whitehorse with Canadian writers Nino Ricci and Alistair MacLeod to hold a panel discussion on Sense of Place. (Ricci and MacLeod don’t have works in the show either, although they’re words are part of the catalogue.)

Not many attended the arts centre’s panel discussion, but those who did, identified with the midnight sun and the drama of winter.

MacLeod talked about growing up on the Saskatchewan prairie and returning to walk through overgrown forest looking for the mounds in the earth marking the foundation of his elementary school.

For Ricci, place is created in the pages of his books and found in the city landscape where he lives.

But place is also becoming part of cyberspace, a world Baxter& embraces and MacLeod ignores.

A university student in his hometown of Windsor, Ontario, is helping Baxter& put catalogue his life’s work online.

MacLeod has never sent an e-mail, although he has some younger family members who have been cajoled into helping the Luddite when technology demanded.

The aging author also writes all his work longhand, including his award-winning novel No Great Mischief.

Ricci uses a laptop to write, but still tries to pen out the first draft.

“I find the story has a better flow that way,” he said.

Baxter&, wearing a snappy black suit, a black baseball cap with an ‘&’ on the front and had an ‘&’ tattooed on each hand, explained that he added the & onto his name because it’s a good way to end things.

“And,” he said, ending the talk.

Itai Katz’s show Twelve Acts of Courage hangs alongside Sense of Place. The Israeli/Inuvik artist’s 12 big, colourful paintings deal with dreamtime, still life, hyenas and, of course, courage.

Both shows run until October 29th.

Contact Genesee Keevil at gkeevil@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Yukon couple injured after truck crash in southern Alberta

The couple’s truck hit a vehicle that did not yield at an intersection in Coaldale, near Lethbridge

City of Whitehorse council announces its capital budget

A new fire hall is among the major projects

Proposed drilling plans at ANWR vulnerable to litigation: Gwich’in lawyer

That the Democrats control the House of Representatives may not be enough to protect the refuge

Canada Post rotating strikes hit Whitehorse

Whitehorse postal workers went on strike the morning of Nov. 9

Commentary: Lack of affordable housing in the Yukon is not about funds, but how we spend them

Why are we not building apartment complexes to serve the lower and lower-middle income bracket?

Driving with Jens: When should you plug your vehicle in?

You can probably still start your car without plugging it in at -25 C or colder, but you shouldn’t.

Yukonomist: Too far up the supply curve

Some copper mines come in and out of production as global demand for the metal surges and ebbs.

Juniors impress at Squash Yukon’s Early Bird Tournament

“Everyone arrived on time, lots of people stayed to spectate and cheer people on.”

Commentary: Pioneer Utility Grant cuts: Ending universal program hurts more than it helps

The grant assists Yukon seniors with the cost of heating their homes, whether they own or rent

History Hunter: Early Yukon auto trek was a publicity stunt

Percival and Brown planned to become the first party in an automobile to cross the Arctic Circle

Yukonomist: Zero day for the Yukon’s rainy day fund

The truth is that our government has joined most provinces and states in having a net debt position

Most Read