Out of the studio and into the Bistro: A visual art “taster” opens at Yukon College

Vicia Cracca by Misha DonohoeWHITEHORSE―When Yukon artist Misha Donohoe discovered the vibrant blooms of the purple pea plant (Vicia cracca) in the industrial area of downtown Whitehorse, she was enchanted.

“It was interesting to me because it is an introduced species that attracts many native pollinators, and because it’s gorgeous,” she said. “I was struck by the delicate, sweeping beauty of its vines and tendrils.”

For the past few years, Donohoe has been delving into her background in biology to create a series of large-scale watercolour and ink pieces that toe the line between scientific illustration and fine art. Her stunning depiction of Vicia cracca and its pollinators is one of the works featured in a new group display from Yukon Artists @ Work (YA@W) now showing in the Hilltop Bistro at Yukon College.

“The artwork evokes the style of images that appeared in antiquated scientific literature,” said Donohoe. “It’s a lovely coincidence to have this work showing at the College, a place that provides education in the sciences and supports northern research.”

Multimedia artist and printmaker Joyce Majiski co-curated the show with help from Sandra Storey and Don Watt, after circulating a call to YA@W members over the summer.

Majiski sees the Bistro display as a “taster”, designed to whet appetites for local art. She hopes the show will encourage people to visit the downtown gallery (4129 Fourth Ave.) to participate in YA@W’s activities and support local artists.

“It’s like buying food from a local farm so it can stay in business; buy work from local artists so they can continue to be the voices of our culture,” said Majiski. “Artists contribute to the fabric of a society; artists teach your children; artists can inspire or be provocative or insightful, or all three at once.”

YA@W began in 2003, with a dozen artists and an idea: To create a supportive community and develop a market for Yukon art. Over the years, YA@W has grown to include more than 35 members, curated from the Yukon’s vibrant network of local and emerging artists.

“Visual artists are notorious for being in their studios, working in isolation,” said Majiski. “The co-op gives us the opportunity to come together to talk about issues, and to show and sell our work.”

Northern Legacy by Joyce Majiski
Northern Legacy by Joyce Majiski

Alongside Donohoe and Majiski, seven other Yukon artists are featured in the display: Nicole Bauberger, Lillian Loponen, Deanna Bailey, Leslie Leong, Martha Ritchie, Jackie Ziehe, and Susanne Hausermann. All artworks are for sale through YA@W, and the College does not receive a commission on any pieces sold.

The Hilltop Bistro is a training restaurant for Culinary Arts students at Yukon College. Each term it hosts a different local art show.

“We are fortunate to be able to showcase local art in this space,” said Culinary Arts Department Head Gene Batten. “It helps to connect the Bistro to the local community and to expose people to art and artists they might not see otherwise—and it just makes it more pleasant to work in this space as well.”

There will be a public reception celebrating the show on Monday, November 6 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The exhibit runs until mid-December.

The Bistro is open Tuesday to Friday for lunch between 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and dinner from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The space is also available for special functions catered by the College Culinary Arts team and students. Reservations can be made by emailing bistroreservations@yukoncollege.yk.ca.