Menopause Mischief

I curated this exhibition for Arts Underground, exhibiting from March 4 – 30, 2018.

Tara McCarthy interviewed me for CBC North’s afternoon show AirPlay, and you can listen to it here. Show statement below, and artist bios following that.


Menopause Mischief exhibits painting, sculpture and film by 15 artists with connections to Dawson City.

Laughter at a burnt pie started it all. At a members’ show in Dawson’s ODD Gallery, Suzanne Crocker hung a self-portrait simply called “Menopause.” It included photos of four heat-seared objects: a toaster, a kettle, a tea towel, and a pie. Each was ruined because peri-menopausal hormones messed with Crocker’s short-term memory. Also present: the desiccated pie itself, in stable, charcoal form.

I was gallery director at the time and walked past that burnt lemon merengue for a month. I grinned each time. Grinned, and grimaced. Menopausal mind-fog was news to me. Hormones fogging the mind? Again?! We dealt with that in our teens!

I searched for more art about menopause, and found little. The feminist in me was annoyed; women have plenty to say about this phase. And we (barely) younger ones need artistic research for our future selves. I asked several Dawson artists if making works about menopause would inspire. The response: Hell yeah!

Connecting outwards, Menopauses Mischief also celebrates how Dawson’s art community is constantly enriched by cycles of visiting artists. I extended my query to several ODD Gallery exhibitors and KIAC (Klondike Institute of Art and Culture) artists-in-residence who had recently been north.

Menopause Mischief expanded to include nine artists from Dawson and six from elsewhere (Vancouver, Mayne Island, Regina, Montreal). Ten of the works were made specifically for this show. Menopause-infused creativity is out there, just waiting to be asked!

The Menopause Mischief artists don’t all know each other, but the resulting works speak to each other. The resulting exhibition reveals equally where menopause plays comedic, where it stings, and where it boils things down to essentials.

Curator and Artist Bios:

Curator: Meg Walker (Dawson City, YT)

Meg Walker is a multidisciplinary artist and writer who lived from coast to coast across southern Canada before being hooked by the Yukon. Her creative work constantly seeks connections between material and immaterial, physical and intellectual, sensory and imaginary. She has been involved with artist-run-centres in Montreal and Vancouver, and is a longtime member of the Dawson City International Short Film Festival organizing committee.

During Walker’s recent role as Interim Director at the ODD Gallery (2016-17), she researched curating practices and chased inspiring conversations with curators. Those bodies of knowledge connect well with tactics previously learned through earning an MA and a BFA, writing and assigning magazine stories, researching artworks for the Vancouver Art Gallery, and plenty of studio time. She now presents her first foray into curating, in the form of Menopause Mischief.

Palma Berger (Dawson City) – painting

It is in retirement that I have found I have a passion for making art, especially painting. I exhibit in most Dawson art shows featuring local artists. I have three paintings in the Yukon Permanent Art Collection. Ten years or so ago I won the “most promising artist” award at a show in Whitehorse.

Gail Calder (Dawson City, now Victoria, BC) – collage

Gail Calder has been involved in the arts, crafts and music sectors from a very young age. This is the third Yukon art show she has participated in. Now retired from the workforce she looks forward to a life of creativity and fulfillment.

Marie Côté (Montreal) – ceramics

Marie Côté earned a BFA from Concordia University (1982-1985) after studying ceramics at the Banff Centre School of Fine Arts. She later trained at Liverpool Polytechnic (1985-1986) and completed an artist residency at Inukjuak, Nunavik (2011).

In addition to exhibiting her work in galleries in Quebec, France and Syria, she has taken part in major events including Visions 91, organized by Les Cent jours d’art contemporain de Montréal; and the Biennale de céramique contemporaine de Châteauroux (France).

Centred on pottery, where form “emerges from” emptiness, her work seeks to shed light upon the intricate process connecting objects and space.

Suzanne Crocker (Dawson City) – Photo and sculpture

Suzanne Crocker, an award-winning filmmaker and retired family doctor, created 11 short films before making her debut feature film. That work, All The Time in the World (released 2015), followed her family’s adventures living off-grid in the Yukon wilderness for nine months.

For her current project and next film, First We Eat, Crocker is feeding her family for one full year only food that can be grown, raised, gathered, hunted and fished in and around Dawson.  The process involves researching research the wealth of local food options available as well as the possibilities for increasing local food security across the Canadian North.

Shelley Hakonson (Dawson City) – painting/mixed media

I am a mixed-media artist, exploring many techniques and a variety of materials to make pieces usually based on the small stories I find from our worlds past civilizations.

Women and the lives of women are a particular focus of mine. I use paint and sculpting materials to represent the women’s topics that are important to me. Research constitutes a significant part of my process, finding glimpses of forgotten times or cultures, obscure traditions and customs which are no longer part of our knowledge.

Belinda Harrow (Regina, SK) – embroidery/fabric art

Belinda Harrow was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, but came to Saskatchewan with her family at age three. She earned a B.A., in English from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon (1993), a B.F.A. at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design (1996), and then an M.F.A. from Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand (2005).

Harrow works in a variety of mediums, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, and fabric. She has shown her work in group and solo exhibitions in Canada, New Zealand, the UK, China, and Thailand.

Tomoyo Ihaya (Vancouver, BC) – painting/mixed media

Born and raised in Tsu City, Mie, Japan, Ihaya became a resident of Canada in 2000 and completed her M.F.A. at the University of Alberta in 2002.

Ihaya has spent extensive time in India since 2005, becoming close to Tibetan communities in exile through studying Tibetan Buddhism. Since 2011, she has been making a series of drawings about Tibetans who have self-immolated in response to the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The drawings are both mourning and prayer for the victims.

Ihaya has produced and exhibited artwork in in India, Mexico, Thailand, the USA and Canada. When she is not in India, Ihaya lives in Vancouver, teaching and making art.

Wanda Jackel (Dawson City) – painting

Working in factories in the 1980s, I developed carpal tunnel syndrome. After surgery, my doctor recommended painting as a way to restore the fine motor skills in my hands. I soon loved painting on ceramics, plywood and canvas.

My love of fine art is not limited to one medium. When painting or carving, on canvas or in wood or bone, I first study the piece then allow it to “speak” what it wishes to be.

My parents – a Blackfoot-Zulu father and an English mother – bestowed their rich cultural heritage upon their children and for this I am thankful. Surrounded by wilderness – working at Liard Hot Springs, then Whitehorse, then Dawson City – my artwork has flourished and has shown at KIAC gallery, the Confluence Gallery, and MacDonald Lodge.

Karen Kazmer (Vancouver, BC) – sculpture

Karen Kazmer’s interdisciplinary practice originates from an interest in the body as messenger and the interplay of tension between the tangible and intangible. Recent explorations have drawn on the microscopic world and its relationships to daily life; the areas between objects and skin; and what happens when humans and animals enter territory with no defined borders.

Kazmer currently teaches part time at Emily Carr University of Art and Design and is working on two local public art projects. In the summer of 2016 Kazmer and Deborah Koenker were KIAC artists-in-residence and produced NORTHERN HOWL, a site-specific exhibition about Dawson City dogs and dog owners for The Natural & The Manufactured series.

Lulu Keating (Dawson City, YT) – film

Lulu Keating is an award-winning writer, producer and filmmaker. Her films are predominantly independent dramas, animated films and documentaries, and she has also produced for the NFB and CBC.  Her films have screened at festivals from Chicago to Copenhagen and her work has been honoured with awards around the world.

Keating has been active on regional and national boards, serving on numerous arts juries. In 2001, Keating won a residency in Dawson City Yukon, where she now lives. Currently, she is developing several feature films and shorts.

Deborah Koenker (Vancouver, BC) – sculpture, embroidery

As an immigrant to Canada, Koenker is interested in borders, globalization, migration/immigration, the difficulties of cultural integration, building community and social justice. Personal narratives are increasingly important to her practice; her 2016 Kelowna Art Gallery exhibit “Grapes and Tortillas,” for example, includes texts written by temporary seasonal agricultural workers from Mexico who come to work in the Okanagan Valley, BC, and across Canada.

Gail Noonan (Mayne Island, BC) – film

Gail Noonan is a visual artist and animated filmmaker with a strong interest in music. Originally from the east coast of Canada, she made a slow westward migration with a sojourn in the middle of the country to go to art school in Winnipeg where she lived for a number of years as a printmaker. A move to Vancouver on the west coast prompted her to make a lateral transfer to film animation after a compressed two years of study at the Emily Carr Institute.

Noonan abandoned the city a number of years ago to live on a small Gulf Island and focus on making films. Currently she is exploring how to combine her interest in songwriting with animating unusual materials including her own aging flesh.

Jackie Olson (Dawson City, YT) – painting/mixed media

Jackie Olson is a Dawson artist born and raised. Graduated at Alberta College of Art in 1992. I have been creating art since, working with acrylics, handmade paper and found objects mostly. Abstract expressionist work with texture, colour and markings. The process is what makes me excited, work intuitively through an often-methodical process.

Anne Saunders (Dawson City, now Saltspring Island) – painting

After cultivating a love for nature through her childhood in Scarborough Township, Ontario, Anne Saunders blended her drawing skills with photography. She managed a Black’s Camera store in Toronto until a Dempster Highway journey in the 1980s introduced her to the Blackstone Uplands. That visit became a pivotal point in her life; she moved to Dawson City in 1986 so she could visit the area frequently.

In 1998, Saunders began painting seriously and joined the Klondike Painters Group. She has exhibited work in KIAC members’ shows and Confluence Gallery shows. Her art is on permanent display at Whitehorse General Hospital and McDonald Lodge, Dawson City.

In late 2016, Saunders moved to Salt Spring Island to be close to her elderly mother. There, she continues to paint and study both art and nature.





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