Haines Junction may be too small to have a grocery store, but it has artists galore.
Artists, craftspeople, photographers and writers all display and sell their work at the Village Local Art Gallery, which opened just last summer. Several local creative types connected last July with Lynn De Brabandere, Minister of Presence since 2011 at the Junction’s striking octagonal log church, St. Christopher’s. Visitors often want to see the church, reasoned De Brabandere, so why not showcase local talent downstairs, and support the work of artists in Haines Junction?
Now in its second year, the Village Local Art Gallery features the artwork of more than 30 men and women between the ages of 16 and 91 – and they are also on hand to discuss the art because the artists themselves staff the gallery.
“I can’t imagine a summer without the gallery, now,” De Brabandere says.
Many visitors to the gallery are seeking the landscapes of well-known Junction artist Libby Dulac, whose prints are a mainstay. The gallery walls are also adorned with linocuts by Marty Ritchie; wildlife paintings by Brent Liddle and Silke Gade and others; and photography by Bruce Binder.
Cyndi O’Rourke, a self-described apron-ologist makes kitchen wear that is attracting tourists seeking a gift for the chef back home. The aprons, placemats, and table cloths by O’Rourke and several other artists are affordable, hand-sewn with careful attention to detail, pack flat, and don’t break during the trip home.
Local hide and bead artists Grace Johnson and Kim Ashby make moosehide mitts and moccasins and the village quilters make original and richly-detailed wall hangings and quilts.
The boon of local creative production came as somewhat of a surprise to Junctionites themselves, and they’ve enjoyed discovering each other’s artistic passions and goals. The Village Gallery functions not only to sell work, but also to connect, encourage and inspire its creators. Visitors might find Libby Dulac spending an afternoon staffing the gallery, or 91-year-old Marion Wakefield delivering, on foot, her bright and beautifully crafted knitwear for adults and children.
On Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. the church is particularly vibrant inside and out, as regional gourmets and growers of locally grown and produced food congregate outside the church for the weekly Village Local Market, while the artists show their work inside. It’s a good place to be, as local musicians entertain visitors on guitars, washtubs, and whatever else is at hand.
The octagonal log church is itself a work of art. It was designed by log building artisan Henry Henkel and built with volunteer labour between 1987 and 1991. It’s a cool respite along the highway at Historic Mile 1016 (KM 1578.5).
The Village Local Art Gallery is only open in summer, but if you are heading out to the Kluane Region or to Haines, you can catch the gallery before its Labour Day closing. The gallery is open noon to 4 p.m. daily through to Sept. 2, and otherwise by request, call 867 634 2360. When the doors of the church are open, the gallery is open downstairs.
The gallery is located in St. Christopher’s Log Church, which is along the Alaska Highway at kilometre 1578.5, in Haines Junction.