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New art show shows the familiar sights of Yellowknife living
Paintings on display at franco-culturelle association

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, July 30, 2013

While Marie Pierre Castonguay may not have a title for her show, all it takes is one look at her paintings to see her capture the simple sights and sounds of Yellowknife.

NNSL photo/graphic

Marie Pierre Castonguay shows her collection of oil paintings that are on show at the Association Franco-culturelle de Yellowknife. The show was opened to the public last week and will be running everyday until the end of August. - Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

The show, which is running at the association de franco-culturelle Yellowknife until the end of August, features 13 pieces showcasing the experience of living here.

“The theme of the art show is inspired by just living in Yellowknife and how the style of life is a lot more mellow than a big city anywhere else in Canada,” she explained. “I am from Ottawa and I was used to working three jobs and going to school and doing everything at the same time. When I moved up here, I realized you don't necessarily need that kind of lifestyle to be comfortable and you have more time to explore and relax.”

Some of the paintings feature musical instruments such as an acoustic guitar and piano. Castonguay said the instruments are important because music inspires her in her work. Other images include local bird species like the common raven, magpies and owls, as well as another familiar site of Yellowknife's skies, helicopters.

Castonguay also makes use of collage pieces and mixed visual media.

“One thing you will notice (in the art) is everything is flying because everything is flying and accessible in Yellowknife,” she said. “Of course, the raven is present because I really, really enjoy the raven with just how intelligent and big they are. Someone from the south might not expect a bird to be that big and I find, personally, they are very graceful when they fly.”

Castonguay, 22, who put the paintings together within the last few months, said it is true some people may be indifferent to some of the images she has painted, such as one of magpies, a species she said isn't popular with everyone.

“I have seen a few in the Northwest Territories, but I have been surprised to see the magpie here because it reminds me of the idea of changing homes from the south and coming here,” she said, noting how locals have told her it is not common to see them in the area.

Only two of the pieces, both of which are of helicopters, make use of photographs as a reference point for the painting. All of the others were painted and drawn freehand.

Castonguay, who has also provided private drawing lessons to children on occasion, has also had her work shown at the Snowking Winter Festival, the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Que., and in Germany and Brazil.

Pascaline Greau, director of the francophone association, said she is a fan of Castonguay's work.

“I love what (Castonguay) does because I love the mix of the material that she is using,” Greau said. “I'm not really a fan of the raven, but she has a good way of putting it. I like it.”

The doors to the show are open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., up to the end of August, but a final day is yet to be announced.

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