Artrepreneur: Spruce Bog in the Summer

One of Whitehorse’s favourite Christmas craft fairs has reproduced.

About 40 different craft makers, artists, authors and artisans will showcase their work at the Yukon Crafts Society’s Artisans’ Market Gift Shop this summer.

The Yukon Crafts Society is best known for producing the Spruce Bog Christmas craft sale.

The society has turned the old Trapper’s Lounge on the McDonald’s side of the Westmark Klondike Inn into a roughly 2,000-square-foot gallery.

Work is displayed on walls and on round tables bedecked with colourful table cloths. Sometimes artists create a solo display in one place, and some artists’ work is spread throughout the space. Overall, it looks a lot like the Spruce Bog, carefully transplanted.

Heidi Hehn, acrylic painter and one of the showing artists, shows me around the gallery proudly.

Pam Charman, member of the executive board for the Yukon Crafts Society, manages the shop and pulls the group together.

Frank Curlew, general manager of the Klondike Inn, donated the space to the Craft Society.

The Artisan’s Market is open 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., and 5 to 11 p.m. to accommodate hotel guests coming in on bus tours.

Showing artists’ work 22 three-hour shifts in the gallery over the course of the summer, as well as paying a one-time fee to cover gallery expenses, the artists then get charged no commission on sales.

“Why come to the Yukon and buy something made in China?” asks Hehn. This exhibit is meant to make buying Yukon-made an accessible choice.

And it’s not just folks off of buses coming in to the gallery. Yukoners bring their visiting friends and family out, too.

Hehn has taken part in One of a Kind shows outside of the Yukon, and thinks that Yukoners bring creativity and experience to setting up their work that compares well with anything she’s seen elsewhere.

Pam Charman is proud of the length of time that work will be on display: “Ninety-nine days straight,” she tells me – it will be seven days a week from May 25 until Aug. 31.

“We’ve scheduled 790 shifts,” she reports. Charman comes in and works leftover shifts, or covers for artists taken ill, as well as overseeing the shop.

Emilie Meredith is the youngest showing artist. At the tender age of 16, she’s been showing and selling her work since she was 12.

The Market’s greatest advantage to her is that she can leave her work set up. She’s previously shown at Spruce Bog and the Fireweed Community Market where you have to set up your work in the morning and take it all down at the end of the day. “This is much easier.”

She works her shifts and brings in more small-framed acrylics and watercolours as she creates them.

The Artisan’s Market lays out a Yukon cornucopia for its viewers. You can buy many different kinds of jewellery, candy, handcrafted soap, wooden toys, bird houses, purses, babies’ bibs, “upcycled” items like notebooks made of old floppy disks, wood burnings, Yukon tartan, painted gold pans, jam made from berries collected along the Top of the World highway, beautiful beadwork, paintings, photographs, stained glass and much more.

The best entrance to use is the one off of 4th Avenue beside McDonald’s.

Ask directions of hotel staff if you go in the hotel’s front entrance off of 2nd Avenue.

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