Darrell Chocolate spotted the vista he wanted to put onto a canvas while out taking photos around Old Town in the fall.
“The sun was just starting to rise up, you could see the clear sky. It was a bit of a brisk wind that morning and you can see it in the waves in the painting. The background you can see the fall leaves, the orange, yellow leaves and in the foreground you can see the pine trees,” he says. “That kind of captured my eye to put it on a painting.”
He finished ‘Serene Fall Season’ two weeks before the submission deadline for a NorthwesTel contest where the winner would be featured on all of the NWT’s phone books. With his busy life – raising five children and working as a mill operator at the Ekati Diamond Mine – Chocolate says he forgot about the submission until he got the call that he had won.
“My art is going to be on the phone book, it’ll be all over the Northwest Territories so I’m pretty happy about that,” he said at the unveiling Monday at the Chateau Nova in Yellowknife. This is the most publicity Chocolate says he has ever gotten for his art.
Entirely self-taught, Chocolate has been making art for as long as he can remember. He thinks it was around age six when be began drawing cartoon characters. Eventually, he transitioned into landscapes.
Originally from Gameti but now living in Yellowknife, Chocolate is from a family of artists. “My mom, actually, she does a lot of sewing, she does a lot of beadwork. She makes mitts, moccasins, slippers, jackets, vests. She actually made the wedding vest for my wedding,” he says.
His grandmothers were also artists. He remembers his grandmother on his father’s side making everything you could think of – including dog harnesses, fur hats, dog whips – all by hand.
“I come from a small community and a lot of people like to draw. Back then there was no Iphones, no electronics, we grew up small town.”
Vice president of business markets Paul Gillard says NorthwesTel has been running the contest for 34 years.
“A lot of artistic careers have started with winning the phone book contest. It’s a small gesture but it can be really meaningful for the artist and the artistic community and we’re happy to do it.”
NorthwesTel also has a partnership with NACC, sponsors the Yellowknife International Film Festival and has held a community tv pitch contest over the past few years.