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2017 05 Focus Invite Web

John Steins
New Work

My exhibition is two pronged; works on paper and video. For me, a big part of this show is an ode to my late father Ilgvars Steins. He was a very accomplished visual artist with a long career. He influenced my creative life immensely while I often muse on how best to honour him through my own work. Therefore, I believe this exhibition now partly satisfies that condition where I have combined certain elements of his unique manner with my own methodology. This hybridized stylistic thread can be traced throughout many pieces in my show. 

The video component of this exhibition consists of four small, wall mounted screens where I have looped clips of short duration. These reflect my interest in using either original or found footage, altered and manipulated in a way to suggest a relief print coming to life as an animation along with an audio compliment. In the video titled ‘Blue’ I feature my father’s pastel of a woman’s portrait which comes to life singing a disturbing version of Blue Velvet. Again, this is on point with the notion of reflecting on the darker side of my father’s work.


Bio: John Steins was brought up in an artistic household where appreciation of creativity and good taste ruled the day. In the sixties John attended a high school for the arts in Ottawa. Soon after, a move to Toronto landed him in the art department of one of Canada's largest ad agencies. 

In 1974 John turned his back on the big city and found himself on the dusty streets of Dawson after a summer of hopping prairie freight trains and rafting the Yukon. 

John's first Dawson studio was a small gold rush era log cabin he and Paula shared. His pride and joy was a new etching press shipped all the way from Ontario via the White Pass.

And so began John’s ‘log cabin’ printmaking adventure in 1978 embracing his new found ‘cultural isolation’ with the notion that fewer outside distractions will help focus his creative process, whether it be visual art or making music. 

Since that time John has produced a reasonable body of work which has been widely collected and shown. This includes a long playing record called ‘Midnight Light’ among other musical endeavours and a permanent public art installation at the Andrew A. Philipsen Law Court in Whitehorse.

In the formative years, he helped shape some of Yukon’s established organizations and events like the Dawson City Music Festival and the Dawson Art Society which in turn spawned many important cultural spin-offs and happenings that enrich life in the north. John has also served on many arts awards juries over the years.

John’s occasional foray into combative politics landed him on City Council as Mayor of Dawson from 2006 - 2009. The life lessons one learns while in public office should be embraced by everyone interested in grassroots democracy.

This school of ‘combative politics’ got him expelled from the popular auction site eBay in 2003 when he tried selling linocut prints mocking the American President for invading Iraq. Consequently this gave John his ‘five minutes’ of internet fame. 

Today, John enjoys pursuing his practice at his Dawson studio in addition to working part time at the Yukon School of Visual Arts as Studio Technician.

Next up for John is his participation on the jury for the Peace Liard Regional Arts Council 35th Annual Regional Juried Art Exhibition in Dawson Creek in June, 2017. John is very honoured to be asked again to join Whitehorse artist Nathalie Parenteau to adjudicate their art exhibit.

Exhibition on until May 27th, 2017

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