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Summer brings ice show to Yukon Arts Centre

Rick Zuran’s work featured in photo exhibition
Artistic photos taken by Rick Zuran of patterns in lake ice in southern Yukon that are the result of specific freeze-thaw conditions. Zuran’s exhibit, The Last Ice Show , runs until Aug. 15 in the Yukon Energy Community Gallery at the Yukon Arts Centre. (Rick Zuran/Yukon Arts Centre)

On a sunny, 10 C day in March 2019, Rick Zuran grabbed his skates and headed down to the lake near his Marsh Lake home for a skate.

Upon seeing the ice though, he was soon headed back to grab his camera and document the natural phenomena creating an almost “fantasy land” made up of abstract silver streaks underneath the ice surface. That fantasy land is now on display at the Yukon Arts Centre inside the Yukon Energy Community Gallery.

In his excitement of seeing something so unique, Zuran took more than 80 shots of the patterns, capturing the abstract designs under the changing light of a full Yukon spring day.

“I was jumping up and down like a little kid,” he said in a July 6 interview.

A professional geologist, Zuran has studied the layering of rocks and the many, many years it takes for those layers to form. Each layer, he said, is like a page in a story.

What would take years to happen in rocks can happen in a day to ice, as was the case on that March day. Essentially, he explained, it was the result of pressure that came from snow melting and then freezing and expanding to ice.

“The clarity’s phenomenal,” he said, highlighting the polygonal pattern and air bubbles that formed. “They’re very abstract.”

Excited to share his lakeside discovery, he showed the pictures to friends, a number of whom said they hadn’t seen anything like it and suggested he put together some sort of show to share with a larger audience.

While Zuran has done some visual artwork as a fun hobby in the past and also does stonework on commission, this would be his first attempt at an exhibition displaying his photography.

“It was a process of following your nose,” he said.

That process began with a call to the Yukon Arts Centre, asking to speak with whoever might oversee visual art exhibits.

That turned out to be Mary Bradshaw who took a look at the photos and expressed interest in showing them should Zuran put something together.

The next step was deciding the medium to pursue — whether to go with a digital slide show or a mounted collection of photographs.

While it would have been easier to put together a digital slide show, he opted for the challenge that comes with the more traditional exhibition route.

As he pointed out, most of us see enough on screens everyday and personally he enjoys the more traditional art gallery format.

So he got a couple of photos mounted and brought them to Bradshaw, who indicated she’d book him in at the next opening in the gallery.

With that, Zuran got to work getting his first exhibit ready. It was a process that saw him wittle the 80 photographs down to 10 that would be displayed. He worked to give each a unique title based on the image — Five Miles Out and Mutation Creation, to mention a couple.

As the arts centre describes on its website: “Zuran’s work is a unique, bizarre photo suite of dimensional and spacey structures that when you let your mind wonder — they resemble alien roadways, viral strains, or galactic backdrops!”

Zuran had put together an illustration explaining the science of the changes in the ice, but ultimately decided not to put it into the show after speaking with others in the art community, who suggested it’s better “not to give away” too much in the exhibit, a difference from the more scientific approach in providing answers to what is happening. Instead, those taking in the exhibit can take in the images and interpret the images as they wish.

Zuran acknowledged the exhibit is one that brings together aspects of both science and art, but noted the emphasis at the exhibit is on the art.

“It does kind of straddle both worlds,” he said, adding: “the best thing is to go see it.”

The Last Ice Show opened July 2 and will remain on display until Aug. 15. Due to COVID-19 viewings are by appointment that can be made at

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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