Dawson City, Yukon Friday, August 16, 2002

Alex and Donald Potter hang their Canadian Unity Flag from the SS Keno. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Father and Son Fly the Flag for Canadian Unity
Honouring Dawson's Founder
Moosehide Gathering a Community Centred Success
Meet Mr. & Mrs. Miner 2002
Flaming Truck Entertains Spectators
Westminster Challenges Gerties "Happy Hour"
Tr'ochëk Designated a National Historic Site of Canada
Light-Fingered Plague Visits Dawson
Saint Paul's Celebrates its History
Dawson Museum Receives Collections Management Grants from YTG
Review: Unity - a Play of Contagion
Ben Reeves - Art Exhibit Opening
Looking for the Serendipity of Light
Legends Live in the Dance
A Midsummer Night's Play

Welcome to the August 16, 2002 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 31 photographs and 32 articles that were in the 28 page August 13 hard copy edition.

This issue was Heather Pauls' last as our summer intern. She was a great asset to the paper and all its workings while she was with us..

The hard copy also contains Doug Urquhart's famous "Paws" cartoon strip, our homegrown crossword puzzle, Diane O'Brien's "Camp Life" cartoon, and obviously, all the other material you won't find here. You are missing a lot if you're just reading the on-line edition.

We encourage viewers of this website to consider subscribing to the Sun. It would help us financially and you would get to see everything closer to when it's actually news. About 600 people read each issue of this paper online (35,700 since July 2000), and we'd love to be sending out that many more papers. See our home page for subscription information.

Father and Son Fly the Flag for Canadian Unity

by Dan Davidson

For Alex and Donald Potter a cross-Canada tour including the Yukon is more than just a summer vacation. It is part of a project which began when Alex was about 8 years old and was studying the flags of Canada at home. It has culminated in this tour with their Canadian Unity Flag, a tour which saw the traffic-stopping 14 foot by 30 foot banner hanging from the third deck railings of the S.S. Keno in Dawson City on August 7.

The final design of the flag emerged from the pattern which developed while Alex and his Dad were arranging flags on a table in their Montreal home.

"He (Alex) placed the Canadian flag in the center and started to move the other provinces around it," Donald said in his slight French accent. "We discovered a beautiful mosaic. I was inspired by this and thought how strong and protected the Canadian flag was, as if it were protected and supported by all the territories and provinces."

They organized the flags so that the provincial and territorial banners surrounded the Maple Leaf in the order in which their provinces and territories were created, and even added a Red Ensign and a couple of smaller Maple Leafs to complete the pattern. A seamstress helped them put it all together.

"We learned that our flag is only as strong as the stitches that hold it together," Donald said.

Donald, a former member of the RCMP, has been a strong supporter of Canadian unity all his life, and is anxious to show the rest of the country that most Quebeckers do not, in his opinion, support the separatist thrust of the province's Parti Quebecois government.

"If we lose a piece of the flag, it's not complete. If we lose a province, we're not complete. We're a family if we're together."

The giant flag itself is starting to show a bit of wear and tear after all its travels, but for Donald and Alex, that makes it something to be looked after and repaired rather than something to be thrown away. They feel this is symbolic of the problems we face in the nation.

Alex once tried to debate former Premier Lucien Bouchard over what he feels is an inequity in Quebec's language laws. As a boy with one English speaking parent, Alex (who is fluently bilingual) has the right to earn an eligibility certificate which will let him study in an English school if he chooses. Native born French speaking children do not have that right, and Alex feels this is unfair. No one in the government was willing to take him on.

Donald has participated in the "No/Non" campaigns in the various referenda which have been held in Quebec, and has organized a flag float for these occasions.

Alex said it has been a bit of a bumpy ride on this trip, which began three weeks ago. They had some trouble getting everything packed into their truck and travel trailer. There was engine trouble along the way. The back window of the canopy got broken. Still, it's been a good trip.

Alex and his Dad have been travelling on and off for two years now, since he was 11. Their first trip was to Newfoundland and Labrador, but they have since carried the flag in many places, including parades at home in Montreal, and the funeral of Pierre Trudeau in Ottawa.

On July 30 they attended a ceremony in Alberta to welcome the troops back from Afghanistan, just as they previously hung the flag at the jetty of Maritime Command when the troops departed.

According to Alex there are additions to the main flag that enlarge it to 90 feet in length, and he wants to include community, military, as well as first nation flags to make it even bigger. In his grand design, the Canadian Unity Flag would finally include flags from every national group that has become a part of Canada.

While the trip itself is being paid for by the Potter family, they would appreciate some support in terms of donations to help them buy new flags. Some of the original parts of their flag are showing their age at last and need to be replaced. They can be reached by e-mail at canadianunity2002@sympatico.ca

In Dawson the Potters were impressed by the town and its historical presentation. In addition to the regular tourist beat, they were also able to spend some time with representatives of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in first nation, who took them on a river trip and showed them some of the artifacts from the Tr'ochëk site.

"This one of the cities that really has touched us," Donald said. "The people here were really very warm. I want to publicly thank everybody that we met, especially those at the information centre, who made us feel right at home.

"We're from Montreal. We're part of Canada. We're gonna stay part of Canada. You're part of Canada and whatever happens in here is our business - all of ours."

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Honouring Dawson's Founder

by Dan Davidson


Keith La Due and Cheryl La Due Grossen unveil the Joseph Ladue memorial plaque. Photo by Dan Davidson

Along with everything else that has happened during this 100th anniversary year of Dawson's incorporation, it seemed only fitting that the man whose vision created the town should also be honoured.

Joseph Francis Ladue came of Quebecois stock, from those emigrants to the United Stated who are sometimes called Canucks in that part of New York state. The name was Ladoux then, and it has gone through some more changes since, so that the 9 family members who gathered in Dawson on the weekend of August 3 now spell it La Due.

The project to erect a plaque in honour of Ladue was initiated by Ed and Star Jones, summer residents of Dawson who have had a long standing interest in the town's history. From their home in Santa Fe, the Joneses have worked on and completed a biography of Joe Ladue and are now seeking a publisher.

They were spurred to action by the fact that the last remaining visible evidence of the man's life had disappeared when an old quartz mill with his name on it burned down some years ago.

"Dawson received its City Charter in 1902," the Joneses wrote in a letter to a friend, "and this seemed the right time to have his name appear somewhere in Dawson."

The site chosen for the memorial plaque is at the top of a garden path that leads from Front Street to the dyke. The garden doesn't have a real name yet, but is known locally as Norm's Hump, after Norm Carlson, the city public works superintendent under whom it was constructed. It has already received commendations from the Communities in Bloom organization.

At the Dawson end, the project was placed in the capable hands of Kelly Miller, the manager of the Klondyke Centennials Society. Kelly organized the placing of two large quartz boulders (the other will bear a plaque honouring George M. Dawson, to be placed at a later date) at the top of the rise, and arranged for a detailed bronze plaque which will probably set a new standard for local memorials.

The money for all this was raised among the Ladue relatives, the Joneses, and their friends.

The ceremony began later than planned, having been postponed to accommodate a funeral in St. Paul's Anglican Church just across the road. Jeffrey Hunston, Manager of the Heritage Resources Unit, Cultural Services, with the Government of the Yukon, was the master of ceremonies for a short program which included speeches by Councillor Wayne Potoroka, on behalf of the the City of Dawson; M.L.A. Peter Jenkins, on behalf of the territory; and Keith La Due, the great nephew of Joe Ladue.

Keith and Cheryl La Due Grossen then removed the centennial banner from the plaque, revealing the fine portrait of Ladue and the tribute in words. (For more information about the life of Joe Ladue, see the accompanying article from the program brochure.) For now the tribute is unilingual, but the Societe de Franco-Yukonnais will be providing a second plaque with a translation later on.

Following this event a reception was held on the Museum's rear deck.

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Moosehide Gathering a Community Centred Success

by Heather Pauls


Dancing at the Moosehide Gathering Photo by Anne Tyrrell

As one of the most community and spirituality oriented events to be found in Dawson in the summer season, the Moosehide Gathering maintained an atmosphere of respect and reverence for the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Hän cultural past. With a heavy emphasis on honoring the sacredness of such historical practices and areas as the Moosehide Graveyard, the Sacred Fire, the Elders, and the Saint Barnabus Church, the event had a peaceful atmosphere broken only by excited children and wet downpours.

Celebrated to uphold the past of the local First Nation, the event had a strict no drug and no alcohol policy to return to the days when such were not community problems.

In keeping with the old accounts of festivals that brought together members of the Gwich'in, Tanana, and Selkirk Nations, the event was focused on sharing the knowledge, stories and family ties for the generations to come. Like the event held July 25-28, past festivities had much dancing, singing and feasting, the highlights of many.

The weekend boasted much entertainment MC-ed by Elaine Shorty, whose career has varied from radio to television for Northern Native Broadcasting. Entertainers were not exclusively of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation. This is a reflection of the original nature of the gatherings of centuries past, when different peoples from all over the Yukon would meet together. Musicians featured included the Sleeping Lady Drummers and inter-tribal drum group from Alaska, Ken Charlie and Company, a fiddling group from Alaska, and Kaya/Chii, a country music rock band hailing from Ross River. Other entertainment included the Dakwakada Dancers from Haines Junction.

Because the Gathering was held in the hopes of building community, often the prime pastime was being with family and friends, sitting to chat or strolling the grounds to see all the different historical buildings. Little cabins and a number of tents dot the landscape, interspersed with the more significant sites like Moosehide School, the cemetery, the church and Chief Isaac's Cabin. Not exactly historic were the merchandise tents selling CDs, articles of clothing, and all sorts of beaded usable artwork like moccasins and hair clips. Several raffles made a few people happy with prizes like hand-crafted mittens, a fiddle, a guitar, and a daily 50/50 money pot.

One of the aspects that held symbolic meaning was the centrally located Sacred Fire, ceremoniously lit on Thursday and kept burning for the whole of the weekend. Governed by Spiritual Law, the fire was respected and offered prayers, tobacco, and occasionally foods like dry meat, fish, and bannock.

Speaking of food, the daily supper feasts were a copious spread of enormous proportion. Offering caribou, beef, ham, salmon, chicken, pasta salads, soup, and breads, every hungry person was filled to bursting of all the tasty food. The generosity and hospitality to people of every nation was greatly appreciated. As per good conduct, the elders were served first by volunteers who brought each one their plate of food.

Besides the light-hearted pasttime of munching and chatting, there were serious events as well, like the dedication of a headstone for Chief Isaac's grave. Because the it wasn't ready for the dedication, a poster and write-up substituted for the headstone at the formal dedication ceremony.

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Meet Mr. & Mrs. Miner 2002

Story and Photo by Tara Christie


Randy and Laura Clarkson Photo by Tara Christie

The Klondike Placer Miners' Association (KPMA) is pleased to announce Mr. & Mrs. Miner for 2002 as Randy and Laura Clarkson.

Randy and Laura Clarkson both grew up in Ashcroft (a small town in central B.C.) and have made the Yukon their home for over twenty years. They have two sons, Llewellyn and Gavin (13 and 15 years). Llewellyn had his first summer job at a placer mine this summer.

Laura has been the administrative assistant to the Klondike Placer Miners Association for the past six years and is a tireless advocate for the industry.

Randy is a professional mining engineer and is best known for the

revolutionary development of radiotracers to evaluate the gold recovery efficiency of sluiceboxes, jigs and drills. This work has helped to increase the efficiency and profitability of Yukon placer mines in spite of rising production costs and low gold prices. Over the past sixteen years, he has become a world authority on placer gold recovery and drilling, and has taken this Klondike expertise to Argentina, Alaska, Bolivia, California, Chile, French Guyana, Guyana, Honduras and Mexico.

In 1992, Randy was hired by the then Yukon Government's Executive Council to help negotiate the Yukon Placer Authorization (YPA). He worked with the Klondike Placer Miners' Association to develop the dilution/flow computer model that is the basis of the YPA. This past year he has conducted research and worked with the KPMA to renegotiate the YPA. Randy published three reports regarding the impact of placer sediment on the salmon fishery and concluded that the impact of the Yukon placer industry was insignificant.

The Clarkson family lives in Whitehorse and travel frequently to Dawson City and the placer camps to work for miners and their KPMA, and to visit their many friends in the placer industry.

The KPMA thanks Laura and Randy for their contribution to the Yukon placer community.

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Flaming Truck Entertains Spectators

by Heather Pauls

Underneath the swallow nests on the corner of Queen Street and Third, a group of ogglers surrounded, at a distance, a Dodge Ram 4x4 billowing up in flames August 8th. The hood of the truck spewed fire, making a good block radius of foul-smelling fumes.

The fire department arrived on the scene seemingly late as by the time they hopped out of their trucks the fire was out, although was still emitting smoke. Setting up pylons and rolling out the fire hose, mustard-yellow clad workers stood around assessing the situation. Adorning gas mask and fire extinguisher to investigate how dangerous the truck still was, one fireman searched the cab and under the hood.

As it became evident that there would be no more exciting action, the spectators dispersed. After the truck was declared safe to leave alone, a tow truck arrived to pull the wreckage away.

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Westminster Challenges Gerties "Happy Hour"

by Dan Davidson

The Dawson City Chamber of Commerce has voted to express its concern in support of hotelier Duncan Spriggs (the Westminster) in his bid to question the current bar schedule and prices at Diamond Tooth Gerties.

Spriggs addressed the chamber on August 7 with his concerns.. Specifically, he says that the current midnight to 2 a.m. "happy hour" at Gerties is a violation of the "gentleman's agreement" which was put in place when the casino was opened in the 1960s. Businesses at that time realized that something like the casino was necessary to attract tourists to the community, but they were clear that that Gerties' bar prices should never be cheaper than those of the existing bars and lounges.

Spriggs says the late happy hour is a violation of this understanding. In his June 14 memo to the KVA he writes that "Happy hour from 12 AM to 2 AM flies in the face of reason and the original agreement."

"The point is," he told the chamber luncheon, "selling cheap liquor at 2 o'clock in the morning is not sending out the right signal."

Spriggs tabled a letter from Klondike Visitors Association chairman Tim Coonen in which Coonen states that the purpose of the practice, which is now in its third season, is not to draw more people off the street, but simply to keep the crowd already there so that it will "stick around for the last show", which is at midnight.

"We are careful," Coonen wrote, "to refrain from head to head competition with the tavern keepers of Dawson.

"We have been doing this for three seasons. The fact that it has just now come to your attention indicates quite clearly that it is a low-key, internal incentive to encourage our customers to stick around for another show. We make no effort whatsoever to entice customers from your, or any other, establishment."

Duncan was sarcastic in a later interview. In earthier language, he asked if a man should be prepared to disregard the infidelity of his wife with another man simply because it took him three years to find out about it.

In the lively discussion that followed, it appeared that many at the table were unhappy with the appearance of unfair competition.

Fred Berger was a tavern keeper in 1962 and said that he recalled the intent of the agreement. If Spriggs' account was accurate, he agreed it was being breached.

Gary Parker, a former KVA manger now working for the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, agreed that the mandate of the KVA did not include competing with private enterprise. He wasn't sure that it was, since it appeared that the happy hour prices were merely the same as, not lower than, the regular bars, but he noted that the presence of the floor show, the slot machines and the other gambling gave the casino a tremendous advantage already.

"Duncan has a legitimate concern," said Bill Bowie of Arctic Inland Resources, and moved that the chamber send a letter of concern to the KVA, a motion seconded by Dick Van Nostrand, the KVA's past chairman.

The KVA's revised drink pricing policy states that the prices of domestic beer and highballs shall be 25 cents higher that the average price in the community, as determined by a survey taken between April 15 and May 1 each year. Prices for other drinks "shall not be lower than the average price determined by the survey."

The discussion around the table did note that Gerties had an unusual time for a happy hour.

"The whole idea," said Van Nostrand, "is to have happy hour just as soon after work as possible, so somebody still has some money in their pocket ... and can get rid of their day's woes. You know that if you get the minimum of one beer into their bellies, or maybe two, that they'll lose some of their brains and then they'll stay there and spend some real money."

That's usually sometime between 4:30 and 6 p.m, as it is in most Dawson bars. With the KVA's later hours, that means they are cheaper than than they normally are at a time of day when the other bars are back at regular pricing.

Jon Magnusson (Dawson City Bed and Breakfast) wondered why the KVA didn't set the time from 11 to 1 if it wanted to keep people there for a midnight show.

Spriggs would be happiest with no happy hour at Gerties at all, but for now he's challenging the pricing.

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Tr'ochëk Designated a National Historic Site of Canada

DAWSON CITY-On behalf of the Honourable Sheila Copps, Minister of Canadian Heritage, Larry Bagnell, the Yukon's Member of Parliament, announced the designation of Tr'ochëk as a National Historic Site of Canada in Dawson City August 1st, 2002.

Tr'ochëk lies on the upstrea, flats at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike rivers. For countless generations, it has formed an integral part of the homeland of the Hän, People of the River. Here, from mid-summer to late fall, the Hän harvested and dried salmon, collected berries, hunted moose and caribou, and prepared foods for winter storage.

"The national historic site that we are honouring is, for the Hän, a place to celebrate their history and their heritage and a place to reflect on and share their cultural values among themselves, and an ideal location for visitors and neighbours to learn about them," said Bagnell.

Artifacts and vestiges such as fire pits, stone tools and animal remains found on the site speak to the traditional Hän way of life at Tr'ochëk, and express the complex cultural connection between the Hän and their traditional lands.

Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Canadian Heritage regarding the national historic significance of places, persons and events that have marked Canada's history.

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Light-Fingered Plague Visits Dawson

by Dan Davidson

The flag from the Commissioner's Residence isn't the only item to go missing this summer. Next door, at Saint Paul's Anglican Church, two broaches, valued at $100 each, were stolen from the building while the tour guide was in the chapel next door. These items were created by local artist Sharon Edmonds, as part of the congregation's celebration of its centennial year.

Speaking of centennials and thievery, visitors to the City Hall on Front Street can still see the locked time capsule display that was set up early this year, but the framed photograph of the very first council, mounted on the wall with a small plaque affixed to it, has vanished.

Kelly Miller of the Klondike Centennial Society, reported its absence just last week.

Like the missing flag, this will be easy to replace, but Miller says that the replacement will be firmly bolted to the wall and encased in some fashion so as to discourage light fingered visitors from creating their own discount souvenirs.

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Saint Paul's Celebrates its History

by Dan Davidson


Anne Doyle prepared this print to help celebrate St. Paul's centennial. Photo by Dan Davidson

The congregation of Saint Paul's Anglican Church has been busy this year, creating opportunities to celebrate the building's centennial. Several of the projects were long range in the planning.

One of the first projects the creation of a silver lapel pin in the shape of the front of the building. The design and prototype for this unique pin was created by local artist Sharon Edmunds. David Ashley produced the rubber mold from the prototype. Sharon, David, and Cheryl Rivest produced the wakes from the rubber mold.

Each pin has been formed from sterling silver, and put through an acid bath. The oxidization process causes a unique finish for each pin, which is then cleaned, polished, and steamed. Once the front engraving has occurred, the pin is given a final polishing and then engraved on the back.

These pins are selling in the church and at other outlets for $100 each.

Well known Yukon artist Anne Doyle was commissioned to create a print depicting the church building. She chose an autumn setting for her painting, which can also be seen at the church. Anne is renowned for acrylic, oil and watercolour renderings of scenes in both the Yukon and Alaska. The prints are selling for $75.

Ken Spotswood was commissioned to research and write a history of the church, which has been completed and is awaiting printing.

On site, a centennial banner has been created by members of the congregation and hung from the bell tower. In addition a rest and meditation area has been created on the north side of the front entrance to the building.

A tour guide has been employed five days a week during the months of June, July and August, and the building will be open to visitors until the end of the Discovery Day weekend.

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Dawson Museum Receives Collections Management Grants from YTG

The Board of the Dawson City Museum & Historical Society is pleased to announce that it has received funds under two Small Capital Grants from the Museums, Unit, Cultural Services, Yukon Business, Tourism and Culture, Hon. Dale Eftoda, Minister. These project funds will permit the Museum to carry out vital collections management work. The Dawson City Museum possesses the largest collection of artifacts in the Yukon and this important public trust involves crucial responsibilities to professionally mange these irreplaceable heritage resources.

The Museum has recently received the initial payment totalling $9,120 from a total $12,000 that has been provided to hire contract staff to review our collections holdings in order to determine which groups of artifacts are over-represented and to identify areas where we can profitably reduce unnecessary duplication. It is the responsibility of the Museum to ensure that it has a representative selection of well-documented artifacts in a wide variety of categories. Over-representation of certain types of artifacts not only fills up valuable collections storage space, but it inhibits the development of a high-quality collection, and because collections management absorbs a great deal of staff time and effort serves as a bottleneck preventing the Museum from gaining complete intellectual control over our holdings.

The second Small Capital Grant project under which the Museum has received an initial payment of $10,800 from a total $12,000 has been provided to undertake scanning more than 10,000 black and white negatives taken by staff over many years that show individual artifacts in the Museum's collection. These images will then be added to the Museum's computerised collections database so that eventually each artifact's record will have an image attached to it. This will make a much needed improvement in our collections database and initiate a new and more effective use for the labour-intensive work already done in the past to photograph the Museum's artifacts.

All those associated with the Museum appreciate very much the continuing financial support for small capital projects received from the Yukon Territorial Government to assist us in the important work of upgrading the documentation on the invaluable heritage resources in our collection.

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Review: Unity - a Play of Contagion

by Dan Davidson

Bombay Peggy's pub became the setting for a stirring hour of reader's theatre on August 3 as Kevin Kerr, currently with the Gaslight Follies summer cast, launched the book publication of his play, Unity (1918).

Set in Saskatchewan during the last few months of the Great War, the play deals with the devastation wrought by the arrival of the Spanish Flu epidemic which killed more people than the war had.

In Pierre Berton's recent history, Marching As to War, the flu is described as having first appeared among troops stationed in the Toronto-Hamilton area of Ontario. He relates stories of people who died within a few hours of their first symptoms, quoting a Toronto banker who said, "You could be talking to a man on the street, turn around and walk down the street. You'd look back and he'd fallen over."

The flu paralyzed the nation and shut it down. As Kerr indicates in his back cover notes, the flu brought "the terror, the panic, the horror and the sense of helplessness of the 'Great War' home with the returning soldiers ..."

In the small Saskatchewan town of Unity nearly everyone is touched by the flu in some way. Entire families die in bed. An infected soldier rides back and forth on a local train because no one will claim him, until he dies and is bundled out in a blanket between towns.

The play is framed by entries from the diary of a farmer's daughter named Beatrice. They begin on October 15 and the last, read by a friend, is from November 28. The two act play has thirty-three short scenes, some longer than others, that move us through the lives of some thirteen characters, including Beatrice and her sister, a telephone operator, a telegraph operator, a debutante, a blinded war hero, another veteran, and a few other people.

The script is a series of vignettes, short dialogues in which people often talk at cross purposes to each other, sometimes to comic effect, sometimes not. There are some longer passages, some of which set the mood, some of which make interesting observations.

One of Bea's diary entries: "Word of the flu is spreading quickly. Like the flu itself. I wonder if ideas are contagious like that? If they float on the wind travelling from person to person infecting the brain."

An interesting observation indeed to come at the end of the war which was perhaps the biggest brain fever of the last century.

At Peggy's Kerr presented a series of extracts that took the audience through the main ideas and action of the play in a stripped down version, reading with the assistance of some of his Follies cast mates. It was a very effective hour's performance.

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Ben Reeves - Art Exhibit Opening

by Heather Pauls


This painting of Front Street comes from the realistic side of Ben Reeves' talent. Photo by Dan Davidson

"My primary focus is to explore this unique area and to see how issues of its history and present circumstances are evidenced in the details of its landscape. I am interested in commonplace, everyday scenes, ones that at first glance may seem insignificant. Indeed, it is because of their apparent inconsequentiality that minor aspects of daily life often escape attention and then accrue, unnoticed, to have a profound effect on place, community, and individuals. It is these common moments that I contemplate. I expect the smallest gestures of everyday life (as portrayed in the paintings) will build-up and reflect the intersections of: climate, tourism, histories of pioneers and First Nation's peoples, past and present mining practices, and some other diverse activities of locals. Through these intersections, the series will illustrate the uniqueness and complexity that constitute the contemporary Dawson City."

Excerpted from the Artist's Statement

A nervous Ben Reeves slowly eased into things as he explained the themes he has explored throughout his career as a professional artist at the opening reception of "New Works: Dawson City," held the evening of August 3rd.

The first project shown on slides for the large crowd was his Surrey Suburbs Project. Surrey, a city of ill repute and the victim of many seedy jokes, is located in the lower mainland of British Columbia near Vancouver. With its many stereotypes, Reeves tried to break away from the generalizations by choosing his subject matter wisely: by throwing darts at a map and painting at every location the darts hit. With a restricted palette, one brush, and painting as fast as he could without editing what the darts chose, Reeves created a repertoire of scenes of suburbia and strip malls, capturing Surrey for what it really is. All scenes were painted democratically, Reeves claims, because they were all created by the same means of representation. These paintings are all the same size, approximately 16" x 20" and were completed in under an hour.

A fascination of Reeves is construction sites, which he says might just be a male thing, he doesn't know. Mostly his interest in them is because "they illustrate a place in flux" and are "sites of consumer desire." These monstrous buildings disregard the architectural continuity of their surrounding buildings as they constantly strive to be bigger and more lavish than the last structures.

After a brief jaunt in Holland to visit a relative, Reeves became interested in Dutch still life paintings, and wondered what sort of objects he could paint in the same genre.

"I painted what you might call dumb objects," Reeves jokes, referring to the slides of his paintings, the subject matter of which contain a Clorox spray bottle, lollipops, a can of wieners, and a plastic chocolate syrup bottle in the shape of a rabbit. Instead of showing the rich opulence of harvest that Dutch still life aimed to portray, Reeves' paintings outline our consumer culture. In lieu of references to mortality often found in the older style in snuffed candles or rotting fruit, his pieces depict how plastic will last longer than the people who made them. This series is thus titled "You're Soaking In It," the whole of the exhibit resembling something Douglas Coupland would make.

Other smaller projects have included a focus on plaids to recreate the staple attire of the lumberjacks, native fishermen, and high school stoners that Reeves recalls from his many experiences growing up. He describes these pieces, paintings of plaid patterns, as modern art with a working class aesthetic. Another piece in constant utero is his obsessive photocopying of the English dictionary onto a single piece of paper, a sort of post modernistic piece meant to contain everything and their definitions.

As Reeves' collection of original artwork shown at the slide show grew more and more eclectic, if not eccentric, his true talent and willingness to try anything became all the more evident. With a digital amalgamation of a photo of the ground-breaker of conceptual art, Marcel DuChamp, and Basil Rathbone playing Sherlock Holmes in a film still, Reeves combines the hazy borders of reality and fiction. With a bright conglomeration of Disney-like cartoon parts, Reeves creates meaning not in narrative but in form.

Any normalcy concerning the character of Ben Reeves was soon dispelled as he attempted to weave a persona behind his art, claiming that some of his artwork is created as if through another person's eyes - an obsessive compulsive person who patiently pays immaculate attention to every detail of the complicated inner workings of outdated items of technology. Soon it was evident that this persona, unlike his artwork, was badly painted. It was obvious that it was from Reeves' own point of view that he spent countless hours creating images so intertwined and connected that they resemble a sort of twenty-first century version of the Lindisfarne Gospels of Celtic Catholic illuminated manuscripts. It was with this style that he took to drawing the innards of old televisions and computers with intricate detail, all in various colors of ball-point and gel pen. He also drew a mess of small tangled wires, and took this to the next level by making an installment work involving plenty of fishing line and extension cords to create the illusion of a tangle suspended in space.

The sheer amount of time and patience it must have taken to painstakingly draw out these complex pieces boggles the mind, which can be said for another series he created from the Surrey Suburban Project. Observing the actual brush strokes of his many under-an-hour creations, Reeves intricately drew the brush strokes on white paper with black ink. The result is a jumbled yet linear depiction of contour lines of detached simplicity, that somewhat allude to a painting. This he describes as drawing gestures, as it brings small banal movements and quick thoughtless brush strokes into the spotlight as they are infinitely more complicated when converted to black line.

Surprisingly, Reeves made little comment on the pieces completed for the Dawson exhibit, which features paintings of sections of the town. One thing is certain though. Reeves chose to focus on what he deemed as paint worthy in Dawson, not all the standard tourism-oriented sites. None of the paintings had any words from banners or store fronts.

Working as another artist in KIAC's Artist In Residence Program, Ben Reeves made a strong contribution to images of our town.

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Looking for the Serendipity of Light

by Dan Davidson


"It's been a great show, with all my friends here," said Melinda Warren. Photo by Dan Davidson

This July's art show at the Tintina Bakery features the work of local artist Melinda Warren, who is presently celebrating the scenery in her life and trying out a new approach to her watercolours.

"I paint wherever I am," said Warren, who has been dabbling with brushes for 25 years now. So her current work includes scenes from Mexico, where she spent part of the winter, Whitehorse, where she lived in for a time last year, and Henderson's Corner, where she makes her home.

Her main thrust at the moment is to celebrate Dawson, the history of the Klondike, done up as a series of art cards. The originals are on display on the second floor walls of the bakery, and the cards are on sale downstairs.

"This is a great size for people who are aging, and they've been buying art for 20 years, and they don't have a lot of room on their walls. This is a good format for them."

She's looking at the tourist market as well.

"From our visitors' point of view, it's something they can put in a book and take home. We even had a guy on a bicycle today buy one of the cards. He's long distance bicycling and he bought a card."

Warren says she has been experimenting with a looser method of producing her watercolour and black ink works.

"I'm pouring paint rather than just washing it on. I read about it in a magazine and thought I'd try it. I mix up cups of colour, pour huge amounts on, pour it off and then go back in.

"You sort of leave it to serendipity where the light comes through. It's a new thing for me. I always tried to control everything; now I'm trying to let the muse take over."

The bakery as art gallery is the brainchild of owner Jayne Fraser. The bakery used to be the Fraser's home. The ground floor is now the Tintina Bakery and that left the second floor pretty much vacant except for an office, so there was lots of empty wall space. By coincidence there are also lots of local artists and not a lot of places to show things, since the ODD Gallery concentrates mostly on work from outside the Klondike.

There's always some art on display there now, and, several times a year, Fraser organizes special showings just to kick off a new set of pictures. Usually there are a number of creators involved, but Warren had enough material for a one-woman show.

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Legends Live in the Dance

by Dan Davidson


Michelle Olson portrays the free wind. Photo by Dan Davidson

The Dänòja Zho Cultural Centre has been home, for the last few weeks, to an innovative dance show based on Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in legends and presented by Kim Tuson and Michelle Olson.

The show is an engaging blend of video, music, spoken and written word and creative movement.

In the opening portion of the dance, Tuson and Olson dramatize a legend in which the wind is freed from its confinement by a bear. The text of the story is displayed over a background of moving water as Olson dances a pantomime. Indeed, the words sometimes dance over her the sheet of cloth that eventually unfurls to represent the wind.

She is joined by Tuson and they engage in a routine which calls to mind a variety of animals, fish and birds moving about on the stage.

Tuson delivers a short explanation of the uses of storytelling, and then Olson gives a dramatic telling of the story they have just acted.

This is followed by a longer dance in which the pair perform while slides showing key individuals and places in the history of the first nation are projected within a moving landscape that includes rivers, fields and mountains.

The entire performance seems quite timeless but takes only about 25 minutes in total. On this day the audience sat quietly when the second dance ended, as if quite unwilling to break the mood. A surprised Tuson was still adjusting her costume, which she had already removed, when they come out to take their second bow.

There will be several more performances of this show during the week leading up to Discovery Days weekend.

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A Midsummer Night's Play

by Dan Davidson


Puck (Julia Spriggs) has one of the highest energy roles in the play. Photo by Dan Davidson

Spend the summer doing Shakespeare? It may seem odd at first reading, but when the play is "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and the plan is to jazz it up some with a bit of sixties rock and roll, the project sounds more inviting.

That was certainly the case for the thirty-two cast members, most of them elementary school children, who have spent a good part of the summer preparing the first weekend in August when, like the mechanicals in the original, they took their hearts in the hands and stepped out from behind the curtain to a full audience at the Oddfellows Hall ballroom.

The play, a romantic farce about star-crossed and fairy befuddled lovers, lends itself to tinkering. It has been done as an Elizabethan period piece, translated into the 19th century, and played as if it were actually in the era of the Greek mythology from which it derives. In Dawson, it adopted the musical trappings of the 1960s, with some of the rhyming verses set to music, and appropriate taped clips slipped in between the scenes.

In addition, the play has a number of unnamed characters. They now have Klondikey monickers like Tintina, Fireweed, Kluane and Aurora.

The play follows three main plot lines. In one, Hermia (Monica Nordling) and Lysander (Sam Bergman-Good) try to find true love over parental and political objections, while Helena (Amy Ball) pursues the love of her life, Demetrius (Sam McCullough), who is bent on marrying Hermia.

In the second sub-plot there is war in the faery kingdom and Oberon (Axel Nordling) and Titania (Heather Touchie) argue over their respective rights to the raising of a young mortal boy who has been entrusted to the Queen of the Faeries. Oberon assisted by Puck (Julia Spriggs) gets his way through trickery which also ensnares the young lovers.

In the final stand a group of tradespeople (mechanicals) get ready to storm the stage and win the prize during the wedding celebrations of Duke Theseus (James McCullough) and Hippolyta (Kim Tuson). One of them, Billy Bottom (Pascal Causer McByrney) is transformed into a man with the head of a donkey and Titania is bewitched into loving him.

Lots of room here for pranks, laughter and even a little suspense, even if we are sure that the tangled skeins will be wound properly at the end of the play.

There were strong performances from all of the major players mentioned here and, indeed, from just about everyone on the stage. There was hardly any need for the prompter and the action flowed well. if voices were sometimes soft and a little fast, it's hard to play a long, narrow stage which is not raised above the audience.

The play was directed by Susinn Mcfarlin and Kevin McNulty, who are currently appearing in the Gaslight Follies. It was a joint offering of their Bliss House Productions and the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture. In true Dawson fashion, they were assisted by many local businesses and a host of helpful parents and others.

The cast put on four performances over the weekend.

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