A group of women stare with great wonderment at the photography on display at the Copper Moon Gallery located in the Rosati Arts Centre 15 minutes south of Whitehorse.
It is Friday night and the women are just a few of the many that have gathered at the Atlin Courthouse Artists opening.
At first, whispering to themselves in admiration, the group becomes ecstatic when they learn it is photographer Manu Keggenhoff standing next to them.
“I love your stuff, oh my goodness! How do you get the mountain like that?”
The praise is with good reason as Keggenhoff’s photos are striking.
Mounted on grey boxes, she uses just the right amount of Photoshop so that the viewer is left wondering how and where she was able to capture such vivid shots of nature.
The truth is all of the works in her current collection on display were shot in Atlin, and in the case of her images Northern Exposure and Railway to Heaven, right from the backyard of the tiny home she now shares with her husband.
“Every time we go back there, we discover something new,” smiles the modest Keggenhoff.
First coming to Atlin in 2002 for her honeymoon, the German-born graphic designer says she immediately fell in love with the community and its many eclectic artists … so much so that she made the permanent move in 2007.
“I had been a photographer before, but Atlin inspired me in a completely different way,” says Keggenhoff. “History is quite young here compared to where I come from, and at times it seems as if Mother Nature has taken it back here … I like that.”
Keggenhoff’s work is just one of seven artists’ works on display at the gallery until Dec. 2.
From stained-glass mosaic and photography, to antler carvings and quilting, the small artists’ collective offers something for everyone.
In the case of Maureen Morris, one cannot help but question how it is she is able to carve not one but four geese into a caribou antler.
The piece is just one of the more than a thousand Morris estimates she has carved in her 35-plus years of working with antler.
Like Keggenhoff, it was Atlin that inspired her to begin working with the current medium on display.
“I used to carve jade, but then, after moving to Atlin, began working with antler,” describes Morris as she points out the fine detail of her work. “I fell in love with it right away.”
In the case of the four geese piece, Morris carved solidly for a week straight.
“I’ve never put several birds together in a moose antler palm,” says Morris proudly, “but I like it and really feel it is a great piece.”
For long-time artist Lois Clark, her work at times is inspired by both of her natural settings: her self-described, ever-growing garden and her pack-rat ways.
The end result is a collection of beautiful quilts that vary in size, material and colour.
With her piece Someday Tulips Will Bloom Again in Afghanistan, she uses camouflage fabric for the background, despite admitting she is not actually a fan of camouflage.
“I don’t throw anything away and have the ability to horde pieces of fabric away for years,” says Clark. “I don’t really like camouflage, but for this quilt it works.
“Plus, it was the only fabric that was just the right size.”
Clark says Atlin, with its long and quiet winters, is the perfect place for an artist, but even then she wishes she had more time to bury herself in her basement and just “play” as she calls it.
“I love spending hours at the machine, but my summers are dedicated to my bed and breakfast and my garden,” says Clark as she points out one of her large quilts entitled Weed Eater. “I really wish I had one of those.”
On display individually around Whitehorse, this marks the first time, since forming three years ago, that the Atlin Courthouse Artists have brought their art to Whitehorse together as one.
In addition to Keggenhoff, Morris and Clark the month-long exhibit also includes the work of Carla Spek, Kathy Taylor, Judith Currelly and Wil (helmina) De Vries.
I think this was a great idea and the show looks really good, says Morris. “We are all really pleased.”
The Copper Moon Gallery is located at 3 Glacier Drive in the McCrae Subdivision.