From down the road a piece

With a picturesque lake and a glacier-strewn mountain lording over it all, Atlin certainly isn't lacking for beauty. And yet no visit to that idyllic northern village would be complete without a visit to the courthouse gallery.

With a picturesque lake and a glacier-strewn mountain lording over it all, Atlin certainly isn’t lacking for beauty.

And yet no visit to that idyllic northern village would be complete without a visit to the courthouse gallery.

Atlin has a disproportionate amount of artistic talent and the gallery is where much of it is on display.

For the month of November, however, the artists of the courthouse collective are moving their show up to Whitehorse.

Unable to transport the courthouse in time, the work is being displayed at the Copper Moon Gallery in McCrae.

One of the artists on display is Maureen Morris, who has been carving for nearly 40 years.

Morris started out working in jade but quickly switched to antlers when she and her husband moved to Atlin.

The years of experience show in her incredible work, which, this time around, mainly features geese in flight.

Unlike many antler carvers, Morris treats the material like someone would a stone or block of wood, and sometimes only uses sections of the horns.

The finished product rarely resembles the original rack from which it was carved.

The Atlin Courthouse Gallery Collective began more than three years ago.

The gallery is open every day, except for a couple days each summer when the circuit judge rolls into town and the old courthouse reverts back to meet its original purpose.

“We have to move everything out and then move it all back in again,” said Morris.

“It’s a bit of work, but we’ve gotten fairly good at it by now.”

Each artist takes turns running the gallery.

Because membership has dropped to seven artists from the original 10, the collective has had to find additional workers from within the community to volunteer their time.

One new member will be joining at the end of the year, but the collective would like to get a couple more to get their numbers back up to 10.

“We’ve got these incredible 14-foot ceilings,” said Morris.

“You can fit a lot of work in there.”

Many of the artists have exhibited in Whitehorse before, and some have sold their work across North America.

But this is the first time the collective has done a group show outside of their home town.

“You couldn’t ask for a more diverse show,” said gallery owner Nerissa Rosati.

Along with Morris’ carvings there are photographs, paintings, quilts, jewelry and stained-glass pieces.

Lois Clark’s quilts show a creativity and depth that you might be surprised to find in Grandma’s art form of choice.

On first glance, some of them seem to be paintings of landscapes and abstracts.

One particularly large piece, Someday tulips will bloom again in Afghanistan, shows radiant tulips over a green and black camouflaged background.

It refers to the fact that tulips originally came from Afghanistan, long before they were transplanted in Holland.

Because of years of turmoil, the tulips no longer grow around Kabul, but Clark’s quilt expresses hope that the seeds of peace will sprout again.

Manu Keggenhoff travelled the world before visiting Atlin and deciding to settle down.

Her photographs beautifully document her adopted home and its surrounding landscapes.

Carla Spek is another Atlin photographer.

Spek carries her camera with her everywhere she goes, which allows her to capture many special moments from strange ice formations to a strikingly close shot of a lynx.

Unfortunately, there are only three small paintings by collective member Judith Currelly on display.

Currelly sells her work through an agent down south and didn’t have any extra work to sell at this month’s show.

There is also some eclectic work by Wilhelmina De Vries with stained glass and paint.

And Kathryn Taylor’s jewelry has got a couple of “stewers,” according to Rosati.

“As an art gallery owner, I’ve noticed there are several different types of buyers,” she said.

“There are those that have got to have it right away and then there are those that have to think about it, have to let it stew.”

The Atlin Courthouse Gallery Collective show ends December 2 so all those “stewers” out there might want to make up their mind soon.

Contact Chris Oke at

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