Home is where the art is

HAINES JUNCTION Ever wonder how the bear’s bulky plodding compares to the nimble footed squirrel? Or how Canada’s largest mountain…


Ever wonder how the bear’s bulky plodding compares to the nimble footed squirrel?

Or how Canada’s largest mountain looks through the eyes of local painters?

Thanks to the Junction’s new art acquisitions committee, one need look no further than the St. Elias Convention Centre for the answers to those questions.

On Canada Day, the eclectic volunteer group of seven interested locals first unveiled two works of art — Yukon Animal Tracks by Anne Macaire and Kluane’s Mt. Logan by Nathalie Parenteau — to be the first of many collected by the village.

Both Whitehorse artists were happy to hear their pieces found a home in Haines Junction.

“Animal tracks always tell a story, and everyone finds these wild hieroglyphics fascinating to observe,” said Macaire at the unveiling ceremony.

“When all hung together, the juxtaposition creates a study in contrast, from the bulky plodding of the bear to the nimble antics of the squirrel.”

The committee’s intent is to continually purchase and create a legacy of artwork for the enjoyment of residents and visitors to the community.

It is also meant to enrich the town educationally and culturally.

“Future generations might learn something about us by looking at what we thought was worth saving,” said committee chair Mike Crawshay.

Haines Junction may be the first rural Yukon community to have an ongoing arts fund and an official art acquisition policy established by the municipality.

For the project, the village has allocated an annual budget line equal to one per cent of its estimated annual revenues, plus whatever other funding sources the committee can find.

Art covered by the policy applies to books and carvings, films, photos, pots, quilts, and everything in between.

“I admire the (former) village mayor (John Farynowski) and council for having the foresight and courage to put substantial funds toward this celebration of art,” said committee member Wolf Riedl.

“Streetscapes and areas where people congregate need some livening up, since most of the natural materials such as trees and plants have been removed.”

“The main drag needs some beautifying — maybe some sculptures and wall murals,” added local artist Libby Dulac.

The spring 2006 competition was open to all Yukoners, and future requests for proposals will again be advertised Yukon-wide.

 “Good art has no borders,” said Riedl.

“We advertise broadly but certainly hope our local artists put their best work forward and strive to contribute to our collection over the years.”

Although Whitehorse-based artists crafted the first two pieces chosen, the committee is sure to see submissions from more Haines Junction artists in future calls, said member Patty Moore.

During the selection process, the prices for the pieces are blacked out so the committee chooses the piece specifically on the merits of the art.

After the group has agreed on a short list, the prices are revealed to determine whether one or more pieces fit into the budget for that session.

In the future they hope to attract both interior and exterior art displays, including three-dimensional pieces and facades.

“Even floors can lend display space for things like ceramic art forms,” said Crawshay.

“Or,” added Riedl, “art could be displayed on or by that prominent boulder that sits by the highway at the town entrance.”

This is public art, for all to enjoy and not to be hidden away in offices, added member David Sillery.

They intend to co-ordinate locations with the town’s Community Development Committee.

Riedl remembers a saying he suggests may be a misquote from a Danish prince. But it works.

It goes like this: “There’s far more between heaven and earth than sewer and water…”

(Even if it is warm water, but that’s another story.)