There’s a new kid in town and its name is Rah Rah.
The Rah Rah Gallery is the brainchild of local entrepreneur Lauren Tuck. It is a multipurpose event space on Sixth Ave. near Alexander St. in Whitehorse.
Tuck recently came up with a five-year plan to become the proprietor of her own venue. Only four months later, Rah Rah was born.
“The idea is taking on its own life as well. Instead of just having a venue, I now have a gallery, which doubles as a venue, which doubles as an event space, which doubles as a dessert hub,” Tuck said.
The space, owned by Nerissa Rosati of the Copper Moon Gallery, used to be an old garage. When Rosati heard that Tuck was looking for a space, she offered to renovate it to match Tuck’s vision and lease it to her.
“In a city like this, where it’s hard to find space, and what do you say to that? You say, ‘Yes,’” said Tuck.
At the opening night last Thursday, a thick crowd of aficionados and supporters mingled in the small space. They sampled finger food catered by Birdhouse, sipped drinks from the cash bar, and admired the artwork.
The design of the space is elegant and clean. A small homey kitchen and beer fridge sit behind a custom-made bar. Most of the walls are painted in a rich red.
Tuck plans to have art exhibitions rotate through every month. She wants it to be a space for established and emerging artists, with an emphasis on experimental work, she said.
The largest wall will be for the exhibit, while the smaller facing wall will feature work from a variety of artists. Those pieces can be purchased and packed up to take home immediately.
The gallery currently features work by longtime Yukon artist Mark Preston. This is his last show in the Yukon before he moves to Germany at the end of the month.
Preston’s work features large swaths of colour accented by clean designs. Many pieces skirt the line between painting and sculpture with the addition of buttons or other objects, or the removal of cut-out shapes.
The exhibit was a good fit for the Rah Rah Gallery. Preston’s last Yukon show would be Tuck’s first.
Tuck was offering brand new walls to display art, and Preston is always looking for new walls. If fact, that’s part of the reason he’s leaving the Yukon.
“There’s not enough big walls. I’ve run out of walls. So I need to go where there are bigger walls,” he said.
Preston was born in Dawson City and grew up on the trapline closer to Whitehorse.
“My mother tells me stories where she lived in the cabin across the river in the bush and she packed me on her back, and she had to come into town with her little beaded items to sell to get food and milk for me,” Preston said.
“Pretty much from birth I was living in the bush. And the Yukon is still the bush, really. We just have fancier trails.”
The seasonal way of life Preston grew up with continues to parallel his own movements, Preston said.
“I find that urge, when the seasons start to change, that I have to do something different, or I have to move something. In this case, it’s me.”
He plans to stay in Germany for at least three months, and hopes the connections he makes there will lead to some showings of his work.
Does he speak German?
“Nein,” he said.
Preston has been working on his art in the Yukon for the last four years. Before that, he was making a go of it in Vancouver.
But after six years there, the city life was getting him down. “I just got tired of the noise and big city activity and poverty and back alley dirt,” he said.
The Yukon will always be a place that he comes back to, he said.
“I couldn’t see myself forever leaving the Yukon. There’s something intrinsically a part of me that I cannot separate myself from it. So eventually I always end up coming back.”
Rah Rah is open Tuesdays through Fridays, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Tuck will host Sweet Fridays, an evening of coffee, desserts, wines and fine spirits every Friday from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The gallery is also open from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and from noon to 5 p.m. an event called Art Attack will run, where people are encouraged to come with an art project to work on while they sip coffee and munch on snacks.
The gallery can also be viewed by appointment.
The space can be rented for events, meetings, concerts, screenings or parties. It is fully licensed.
Tuck hopes the community will help steer the direction of what happens with the space.
“I just want people to walk through the door and talk to me about what they want. And maybe we can make it happen together.”