A travelling trailer serving as a mobile art gallery is being towed through Yellowknife to display local and out-of-town talent.
This past weekend, the trailer was parked by the Down to Earth Gallery in Old Town to display the works of local artist Alison McCreesh and Yukon-based comic artist Kim Edgar.
The mobile gallery is a volunteer-run project through the Yellowknife Artist Run Community Centre (YK ARCC). Sarah Swan, one of the motivating forces behind the gallery, says the weekend was one of their busiest shows yet.
She says the “little quirky space” helps to fill a gap in the NWT to showcase non-commercial art and to give Yellowknifers a variety from what is being sold in town.
“Because there is no (art) gallery, we try to fill the gap in a friendly and accessible way,” she says.
Since the YK ARCC stopped renting a downtown space in 2016 that served as a permanent art gallery, the new mobile gallery seeks to address the community’s appetite for art.
“We want to support younger artists trying new things, but also give established artists a place to show,” she says.
The venue displays new shows with different artists roughly every two months and they try to pair local names with artists from the south and elsewhere. For the scene to grow, Swan says it’s important to show “art you can’t see elsewhere.”
One of the biggest benefits of the art trailer is that it can go to its audience. Swan says that one of their most successful shows was at a high school in Behchoko, where they got to bring the art to students who would normally have had to travel to Yellowknife to see it.
“We do have plans to go further afield,” Swan says, though many of the festivals they were hoping to attend around the territory this summer have been cancelled due to the pandemic.
While the mobile gallery was not permitted to put on public shows during the height of public health restrictions, Swan says lots of Yellowknifers were calling to have the gallery park in their neighbourhoods to have art shows for their bubbles.
According to McCreesh, “it clearly demonstrates an interest in this kind of work.”
“People are hungry for it,” she said.
While McCreesh loves the adaptability of a mobile gallery, she says it “doesn’t replace having a proper arts venue.”
“I do think it’s an awesome initiative and there should be more initiatives like that but we should also have a proper space.”
While the trailer has its benefits and McCreesh stresses how much she enjoys being a part of it, she also says “it’s not suited to all types of work in all contexts.”
“As the capital (city), it makes no sense that there’s no kind of arts centre,” she says.
The mobile gallery will host its next show at the end of September. Local artist Jessica Davey-Quantick will be displaying works based on subversive cross stitch and photography.
“It’s going to be a wild show,” Swan says.