The Little Subdivision That Thought It Could

The Coppermoon Gallery is buzzing.

Prospective customers peruse the walls, looking at exquisite Yukon art, a woodworker presents a scaled replica of a new sign for the entrance and there appears to be some renovations going on in the back.

At the centre of all this activity is Nerissa Rosati, owner of Coppermoon. She apologizes for running around so much, but one can’t help but get the impression that she enjoys the hustle and bustle of it all.

Before opening the gallery in February of this year, Rosati worked as a general contractor. “I’d been needing to shift out of construction; the work was beginning to take a toll on me.”

By opening up her art gallery, Rosati has found the revitalization that she needed. “It’s been fun. It’s good for the community and it’s good for me,” she says of her new business venture.

She finds one of the most-rewarding aspects of her new job is the interaction with artists.

“I have a tremendous respect for artists; to do what they do is not easy,” she says. Rosati also acknowledges that choosing to be an artist is not always a choice that lends itself to a leisurely lifestyle.

She likes the idea that she has a small part to play in making their lives a bit more comfortable. “I love being able to phone up an artist and tell them that I’ve sold a piece of their work.”

Why does Rosati place such value on art?

“That’s a question I don’t think I can answer,” she says. Instead, she tells the story of a charcoal drawing that she found in Inuvik.

“It was an Inuit fisherman standing over a hole in the ice,” she says. Rosati was simply overwhelmed by the beauty of the image. “I saw it and I had to have it.” It would seem that, for Rosati, the value of art approaches a mystical realm.

With that in mind, it is interesting to point out that The Coppermoon Gallery is located in the industrial subdivision of McCrae, an area not particularly known for its mysticism.

Rosati bought a large building out there in 1992. Coppermoon occupies only a fraction of it; she rents out the rest.

If you subscribe to the belief that a few things can be learned about a landlord by looking at the tenants she keeps, then Rosati’s property is a perfect case-in-point.

As well as her own business, her building also houses the Yukon Artists @ Work gallery, the Yukon Women in Trades and Technology headquarters and five or six artist studios. Together, this comprises The Rosati Arts and Business Centre.

And Rosati has only just begun.

“I definitely want it to become a community centre,” Rosati says, “the type of place where people could spend an afternoon.”

This vision includes, but is not limited to, a picnic area to eat lunch, a coffee shop and a music venue. Lofty goals, to be sure, but there is no shortage of energy here.

With Nerissa Rosati at the helm, McCrae subdivision might be in danger of having its reputation altered. As she puts it, “Stay tuned.”

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