Indigenous voices, Montreal grit and collaborative printmaking shape the 6th Dawson Daily News Print & Publishing Festival
Come fill your art-loving hearts and minds at the Dawson Daily News Print & Publishing Festival. From collaborative printmaking jams to experimental cello music, and from literary readings to antique letterpress action, it’s a five-day celebration of all things related to print.
The community-minded festival opens on June 7 with a printmaking exhibition and a unique chance to pester author, playwright, and humorist Drew Hayden Taylor with questions during a Q&A called “Ask Drew Anything.” Originally from the Curve Lake First Nation, Drew has spent the last two decades travelling the world and writing about it from the Aboriginal perspective, so he’ll be ready.
It’s a compelling start to a festival that offers three nights of music and two nights of literary readings, with workshops and demonstrations richly filling the days between.
Montreal novelist Heather O’Neill, widely celebrated for Lullabies for Little Criminals among other works, reads from her gusty The Lonely Hearts Hotel. Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, an important Indigenous voice in her generation, brings political, necessary poetry from This Accident of Being Lost, “stealing back red bodies/savage desires/ things we can’t speak of.” Both readings are followed by Q&As, and festival-goers can join in workshops with each writer over the weekend.
The range of printmaking workshops and demonstrations are chosen to facilitate mixing contemporary ideas with old and new technologies. All workshops are held in the rarely-accessed home of one of Dawson City’s early newspapers, the Dawson Daily News, which ran from 1899 to 1954.
Visitors can get their hands on the historic 1890s Chandler & Price letterpress to print a keepsake from the weekend, with help from Vancouver printmaker Peter Braune. Dawson artist Mathias MacPhee leads a presentation about the planning and production processes of graphic novels, especially the colourization steps. Virginia Mitford demonstrates drypoint etching and asks participants to alter her plates so that each print evolves.
You can join Mary Tremonte and Jesse Purcell, two members of the Justseeds Artists Collective, to learn about screen printing as they create posters that position water as the birthright of all living beings. And if you’re truly enthusiastic about size, collaborate with Peter Braune and Dawson artist John Steins to form a gigantic two-colour print of an animal that will be assembled from the work participants do in the demonstration.
The musical nights braid poetic and political words with compelling vocals. Artists include:
- Indigenous cellist, composer and Juno nominee Cris Derksen (Toronto) plays groundbreaking fusions of classical and Aboriginal music styles;
- Cud Eastbound (Dawson City) wrangles banjo and guitar to infuses folk songs with raw optimism;
- Nick Ferrio (Peterborough) croons folk and country tunes that blend romanticism and longing, sometimes with steel guitar;
- Simone Schmidt of Fiver (Toronto) weaves melody around fictions built from 1854-1881 patient files at the Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane;
- Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg singer Ansley Simpson (Toronto) blends smooth vocals and warm guitar.
- Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg artist/activist Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Toronto) dissolves the boundaries between story and song.
The broader cultural context for the Dawson Daily News Print & Publishing Festival is the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Across the country, Canadians are taking the opportunity to celebrate their identity, cultural diversity and the richness of our history and heritage. On Sunday afternoon, festival visitors are invited to join the partner project “Weaving Voices.” A collaborative community project led by Bo Yeung and Chris Clarke, this guided walk through town will bring to light the colonial history held within these buildings. We invite your reflections on a more truthful telling of our shared past as we walk forward together. Weaving Voices is part of LandMarks2017, a series of contemporary art projects in and around Canada’s National Parks and Historic Sites this June.
All Dawson Daily News Print & Publishing Festival events are exclusive to Dawson City, so we hope to see you here!
In the spirit of inclusiveness, all readings and printmaking demonstrations are free, workshops are pay-what-you-can, and evening shows are less than $20. For the full schedule and ticket prices, visit http://dawsonprintfestival.com