Saws spin, putting walls in at 200-120 Industrial Road, the new home of the Yukon Artists@Work Cooperative.
The new windows frame scenes of the Takhini bluffs. You can catch sight of the Yukon Arts Centre in the distance.
Up a newly rebuilt set of stairs, beside Twisted Stitches Embroidery shop, the gallery is under construction.
The building was once a Yamaha Dealership. Now it houses Yukon Pump and the Yukon Territorial Government’s Asset Redistribution Centre. It’s located between Two Mile Hill and Quartz Road.
Back in mid-May, YA@W board chair Bob Atkinson was at a loss. The board meeting was on for that night. Members and community members alike had searched in vain. No suitable gallery space seemed to be available that the group could afford.
The Mount McIntyre ski club had generously offered its wax room for the summer. But that was a bit out of the way and hard to find.
The group had moved out of the McCrae location it had animated for six years. Its portable walls and plinths were in storage. Now what?
At 2:30 that afternoon, Atkinson’s phone rang. Chris Johnson, owner of 120 Industrial Road, asked if the group was still looking for a place.
“I’ll be there in half an hour,” Atkinson replied.
“At that point the space was full of stuff, but you could see the potential was there,” says Atkinson.
Looking for a new home for the Yukon Artists @ Work has taken up all of Atkinson’s time in the past couple of months. Working with Johnson on the new space has been very positive for Atkinson.
“She had an idea what she wanted the space to look like, but she also asked us what we wanted. For example, she was going to close in the ceiling.”
The ceiling rises to about 12 feet from the wall up the roof line. Atkinson said no, just leave it. Those extra few feet of wall space will add to the gallery’s showing capacity, and make the space feel airy.
Although the group didn’t initiate its departure from McCrae, Atkinson feels the challenge has done the group good.
“It’s really pulled the group together, given us something to focus on. More people are coming out to the meetings, stepping up, taking on the jobs, since there’s tonnes of stuff that has to get done.”
Atkinson has also been touched by the number of people from outside YA@W who expressed their support and offered help. Frank Silvestri and MJ Warshawski worked very hard looking for a place and advised the group on lease issues.
An anonymous donor gave the group $1,000 to help with the transition. The group will use this money to help pay for a new lighting system for the space.
The gallery will be accessible for more people now.
Atkinson commented on the traffic that uses Industrial Road. There’s a bus stop close to the gallery on the way back from the McIntyre-Logan-Granger run, and at the corner with Quartz, the buses heading out from downtown on the Takhini and Porter Creek runs. It’s also a short taxi ride from downtown for winter visitors.
At our early June tour, walls were still going up in the 1,600-square-foot space. Carpet had to go down, plumbing for the two bathrooms had to go in.
That’s well before the group can install its card shelves on the walls and hang a show.
YA@W is hoping to open in early July, but those dates depend on how the construction goes.
For more news, people can see YA@W artists demonstrate their art forms during Arts in the Park in the LePage Park at 3rd and Wood, Monday to Friday at lunch time.
MJ Warshawski has also offered the group a window on Main Street by the Sportslife entrance, where you will find maps to the new space and updates on the opening dates beside work by YA@W artists.
The group hopes to present the solo shows by Jeanine Baker and Lara Melnik over the summer. They had been scheduled for May and June, and so were missed because of the move. That way, the gallery can resume its solo show schedule on track this fall.
Check out the group’s website for a schedule of which artists you can find at Arts in the Park and news of opening dates at www.yaaw.com/sched/.