Yukon artist Lawrie Crawford imagined a gallery, an airy space with high ceilings and big
beautiful windows. She could picture Suzanne Paleczny’s sculpture of Icarus hanging there.
With that vision an idea was born. Crawford and her colleagues in the Southern Lakes Artists Collective were inspired to create a gallery space filled with a wide range of Yukon art for visitors to behold and be inspired.
And now, the vision has become reality, and Art House Carcross lies between the switching tracks of the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway in the Carcross Commons.
It’s an airy space with high ceilings and windows. The second show at the new gallery, the fall exhibit, opens Thursday, August 11. It will include bead work and sculpture by Teresa van der Meer-Chassé, printmaking by Joyce Majiski, clay sculptures by Don Watt, paintings by Nicole Bauberger in various media, watercolours by Rosemary Scanlon, fibre art by Josée Carbonneau, traditional sewing and beading by both Lena White and Karen Nicloux, as well as moose antler carving and deer skin burning by Dennis Shorty.
This gallery project brings together the Yukon Arts Centre, the Carcross Tagish First Nation, the Carcross Tagish Management Corporation and several departments of the Yukon Territorial Government.
Economic Development provided funding, Tourism and Culture supported it, and Highways and Public Works is providing the lease cost-free.
It’s an example of what can be done when various groups pool their resources.
The space is a showcase for Yukon artists, many of whom have careers that extend beyond the territory. The gallery does not make sales, but directs interested viewers to the artists themselves or to galleries where artists sell their work.
The art gallery is funded to operate as a two-year pilot project. There were challenges to get the door open on time this first year. Consequently, the first show was curated by Sandra Grace Storey. She’s a sculptor based in Tagish, and a member of the Southern Lakes Artists Collective. The inaugural show was of work by members of the collective.
A general call for submissions for the second show went out in mid-July. Next summer, there will be two more exhibitions, with calls going out further ahead of time, with openings on Victoria Day for the first half of the summer, then in August for the last half.
Members of Southern Lakes Artists Collective staff the gallery, interact with viewers and share enthusiasm for art. “(The) opportunity for connection is phenomenal,” Crawford says. “It’s great having us in the gallery as professional artists, able to talk to people.”
As time goes on, members of the collective will carry out another part of the project’s vision, which is to mentor young First Nations student artists who are employed by the Carcross Tagish First Nation.
The pilot project has so far been a success; traffic through the Art House Carcross far outstrips expectations. As of the end of July, an average of 180 visitors per day were coming through the gallery.
The average visitor stays in the gallery for about 10 minutes; bus tours spend 20 minutes in Carcross, total. This is the only time many visitors spend in the Yukon. If the artwork they see resonates, they can take away information on how to find it at galleries or on the web.
Perhaps it will inspire another visit.
Art House Carcross excites Yukon Arts Centre Curator Mary Bradshaw.
“It’s a taste of what’s happening – the sheer diversity of the Yukon Art scene, from the very traditional to the super contemporary,” Bradshaw says.
Art House Carcross is open from 9:30 am to 4 p.m. daily through the summer.