Dog meat, landscape love affairs and kitsch

Ho Tam is an image collector. And a recycler. His film, Confessions of a Salesman, screening at the Yukon Arts Centre gallery, is comprised of 13…

Ho Tam is an image collector.

And a recycler.

His film, Confessions of a Salesman, screening at the Yukon Arts Centre gallery, is comprised of 13 short pieces that reuse existing images.

“There is so much footage and so many images in the world, I don’t necessarily need to film my own,” said Tam.

“Everything you want, someone probably already took a picture of.”

Flashing on the screen behind him were logos — every one a famous name. Mickey (written in the telltale Disney font), Tommy (from the Who), and Tim (as in Horton’s), were just some of the names.

The short was called Big Names.

Another called Yellow Pages jumps from titles to images like a 1920s silent film.

The words Asian Crime flash on the screen. Next follow images of Godzilla stomping through an unidentifiable city, breathing fire.

Another, titled Dog Meat, jumps to images of a butcher block, with hands slicing up what one assumes is a canine carcass.

“Yellow Pages deals with Asian stereotypes,” said Tam, while Big Names explores brand names and globalization.

“How we are colonized by these products,” he said.

In the next room, Andrew Hunter’s Giddy-Up places products front and centre.

Viewers walk into the best of 1960s cowboy kitsch.

Colourful curtains, with bucking broncos frame a cowboy film, while a retro ‘50s chair and funky figurines fill part of the space.

It’s like a hip museum, the setting for stories of masked men and night riders, related in a tiny zine available for gallery guests.

Walking into the third room, after all that kitsch, the stillness is almost palpable.

It’s Emma Barr’s most recent Love Affair.

But the object of her affection is inanimate.

Barr’s in love with the Yukon landscape.

“By the end of my career I wanted to paint every mountain range in the Yukon” she said.

“Then I pulled out a topo map and said, ‘Oh, crap, I don’t know if I can do that.’”

Barr’s been painting landscapes for eight years, influenced heavily by the Group of Seven.

But she only recently started heading out into the mountains to sketch and draw.

“So, now, my landscapes are actual places, rather than working from memory” she said.

“I’ve realized how important it is to be out in the land hiking the mountains and bringing back studies.”

But this year, being out in the elements posed some problems.

It was grey and rainy most of the summer.

“And I’m a primary painter,” said Barr.

“It’s all about colour — I don’t paint greys.

“But I finally embraced it.”

Barr initially started adding black to colours to get grey, then she discovered a trick.

“Instead of black I mixed colours that complimentary contrast to get grey,” she said.

“This helps maintain a richness and depth of colour.”

Blue, purple and yellow mountains fill the walls of the gallery.

“I want to take you through that valley with your eye,” she said, pointing at a painting of the Tombstones.

While she was sitting in the landscape, watching the light change and rain move across the peaks, Barr witnessed tourist after tourist, jumping out of RVs, snapping a shot and driving off in a matter of minutes.

“But sitting all day in it gives you a different perspective and respect,” she said.

“It’s not just pretty — it can be harsh, and even take your life.”

Barr, who recently returned from a stint in Toronto where she was showing her work, always gets choked up as the plane touches the tarmac in Whitehorse.

“The land has me,” she said.

“It’s my love affair.”

The three shows are at the Arts Centre gallery until October 28th.

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