Klondike Letters Project

Translating experience into memory through inspired creation.

Tag: animation

Klondike Mike and the Unfortunate Piano

In February, 1898 Mike Mahoney aka “Klondike Mike” made a deal with Hal Henry. He would escort the Sunny Samson Sister Sextette and their luggage over the Chilkoot Pass and down to Dawson city for $3000 plus a share of the musical group’s proceeds once they started performing in the Dawson Saloons. The six blonde and virtuous sisters were sure to be a huge smash in the rough Klondike frontier, where feminine charms were worth their weight in gold.

There was just one problem – the sisters insisted on bringing their accompaniment piano. Klondike Mike, a strapping Canadian farm boy and champion boxer turned stampeder, duly hoisted the entire piano onto his back and went step-by step up the Golden Stairs and into Klondike fame. Fortune eluded him, however, because the Canadian customs officer at the top of the pass, seeing the piano, asked what he was about. When he heard that 6 delicate, ill-equipt showgirls were coming his way, he was aghast (this was only his second day on duty – he had yet to see the sort of folks trying to get to Dawson). Certain they would die on the trail! He refused to let the party continue any further.

Fuming, Mike stormed back to Skagway and left the piano atop the pass, where eventually someone hauled it back down and sold it for a tidy profit.

Animation: Corrie Francis Parks
Banjo Pickin’ : Ranger Kyle Kaiser
“Saloon Piano Gem No. 1” by Black Keys Bob Stevenson
References: The Hougen Group – Yukon Nuggets and Klondike Mike: An Alaskan Odyssey By Merrill Denison

Interviews recorded at the top of Chilkoot Pass.

This is part of a series of animated postcards from Chilkoot Pass. Read more about the project here.  These mini-documentaries are rooted in reality, with live interviews and photos from the Chilkoot Trail providing a catalyst for my personal memories and playful reinterpretations of history. As an artist, this is about as fun as it gets!

Zombies on the Radio

I’ll be on CBC radio with Dave White talking about the residency and the first animated postcard! Reposting the Postcard below for the benefit of radio listeners. You can listen to the interview on the CBC website here.

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Back in 1898, thousands of men and women arrived in Skagway with gold fever. They were headed for the Klondike goldfields over the Chilkoot Pass. Around their necks, they carried packets of fermented dough to make bread on their long, cold journey. If they made it through their first year in the bitter North, they were dubbed “sourdoughs”, after the bread that kept them alive during the endless night of winter.

Animation: Corrie Francis Parks
Banjo Pickin’ : Ranger Kyle Kaiser
Interviews recorded at the top of Chilkoot Pass.

This is the first in a series of animated postcards from Chilkoot Pass. Read more about the project here.  These mini-documentaries are rooted in reality, with live interviews and photos from the Chilkoot Trail providing a catalyst for my personal memories and playful reinterpretations of history. As an artist, this is about as fun as it gets!

Sourdough Zombies

Back in 1898, thousands of men and women arrived in Skagway with gold fever. They were headed for the Klondike goldfields over the Chilkoot Pass. Around their necks, they carried packets of fermented dough to make bread on their long, cold journey. If they made it through their first year in the bitter North, they were dubbed “sourdoughs”, after the bread that kept them alive during the endless night of winter.

Animation: Corrie Francis Parks
Banjo Pickin’ : Ranger Kyle Kaiser
Interviews recorded at the top of Chilkoot Pass.

This is the first in a series of animated postcards from Chilkoot Pass. Read more about the project here.  These mini-documentaries are rooted in reality, with live interviews  and photos from the Chilkoot Trail as providing a catalyst for my personal memories and playful reinterpretations. As an artist, this is about as fun as it gets!

Conversing with Aotearoa/New Zealand

Several people have been asking where they can see more of my animation, particularly the animated documentary about New Zealand. Well, here it is!

The blending of reality and imagination in animated documentaries is so powerful because viewers can easily insert themselves into another experience. Think of how you look at a photograph of someone compared to how you might look at a painting of the same person. Our minds tell us that photo is the real thing and we don’t question it. With a painting, the artist becomes an interpretive intermediary. I am always going to put a piece of myself into my work, it’s impossible not to! And because I’m there, then the viewer feels welcome to enter into another’s experience too and can may it his or her own.

And for the very enthusiastic, more animation on my website.

Testing, 1..2..3.. testing.

Hello, my name is Donald.

I’d like you to meet Donald. He’ll be travelling with me on the Chilkoot Trail. He’s very friendly and LOVES to listen. If you see him on the trail, feel free to tell him your thoughts, dreams, rants, or just sing him a nice little tune.

In all seriousness, this lightweight recorder is going to be a lot of fun on the trail. I’ll be asking some folks to read aloud their postcards and use that as the soundtrack for each mini-animation. It’s also really fun to record the natural sounds inthe environment – water trickling, bird calls, interesting sounds made by moving rocks, breaking sticks, sand trickling through fingers. And of course campfire stories.

For starters, here’s a little poetic sound clip Donald and I collaborated on during one of our wild Montana thunderstorms. Click on the photo to listen. We’ll see you on the trail!

Rain Bath

Oh, in case you were wondering, Donald’s hairdresser is taking on new clients…