Dehcho artists shine at Aurora Boreawesome

Click on the slideshow above to view captions.Photos courtesy of Open Sky.

A vibrant array of new works by artists in the Dehcho are being showcased through an exhibition at the Open Sky Gallery in Fort Simpson this spring.

The show, called ‘Aurora Boreawesome,’ is part of the Open Sky Creative Society’s annual attempt to supportively make their walls available to local works in celebration of Dehcho artists.

“We try to do one of these every year, one show where we invite our members to submit works and do the whole show as a group show,” said Ryan Good, program coordinator at Open Sky.

“Last year we ended up doing just a single artist, but this year we had enough interest that we were able to put together a full show. But it is something that we try to do annually here at Open Sky so that, for at least one show a year, the gallery is showing work from in town.”

The show features never-before-shown works by Open Sky members Wilfred J. Klein, Marion Storm, Michael Blyth, Joseph Purcell, Natalie Lavoie, Jackie Zinger, Mary Neyelle, Lucy Simon and Celine Edda. The pieces vary greatly across media and styles.

“It’s half contemporary art and traditional art pieces,” said Good. “There are three artists that work with painting; there are two artists that are photographers; one artist has sketches; and three artists are working in traditional crafts, so we have some gauntlets, some slippers and birch bark baskets.”

Even the paintings vary from dark, textured abstract expressions to oil paintings bordering on the fantastic.

While the gallery features the same artists every few years, Good said there are always new artists exhibiting from the region, which Open Sky considers to run from Hay River north to Wrigley up the Mackenzie Valley. Good said one of the reasons there are so many artists in the Dehcho is because the Open Sky Creative Society strongly encourages activity through its summer arts festival that’s been ongoing since 2001.

“I think Open Sky’s done a good job of fostering traditional and contemporary artists that are here,” said Good. “They probably exist in other towns but they don’t have the venue to get into a more professional aspect of making their art, so I think that Fort Simpson, with the Open Sky Festival and the gallery here, creates an outlet that some other small towns don’t. The festival has become sort of a staple in our town. In July, everybody looks forward to the art workshops and art demos and the artists coming in from out of town to sell their stuff.”

Aurora Boreawesome is on display until May 2.

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