From garbage warehouse to arts oasis

When Nerissa Rosati and her then-husband toured the former McInroy Disposal warehouse at 3 Glacier Drive in 1992, they sought only a space to raise a budding electrical business and a young family.

When Nerissa Rosati and her then-husband toured the former McInroy Disposal warehouse at 3 Glacier Drive in 1992, they sought only a space to raise a budding electrical business and a young family.

At the time, the property was as unassuming, long-vacant depot filled with mouldy cardboard boxes.

It was only when Rosati stood on an old car-crushing machine in the backyard, that she saw the sweeping natural scenery hidden behind.

Seventeen years later, Rosati’s monstrous corrugated warehouse has become an unexpected oasis for Whitehorse visual artists of all stripes. Its once ugly steel walls now house a hive of sculpture, painting and mixed media.

One could say that 3 Glacier Drive has finally earned a place among the splendour that surrounds it.

On Friday, the Copper Moon Gallery will officially open as the latest addition to the Rosati Arts and Business Centre, joining the Yukon Artists at Work and the Yukon Women in Trades and Technology.

A joint venture by Rosati and sculptor Harreson Tanner, the new gallery enters a town rife with smaller arts venues, but lacking in a true hub with wall space for “large original art.”

“There’s so many artists in the territory, there was a need for a really good, first-class gallery and this is it,” said Tanner.

The co-operative gallery Yukon Artists at Work, requires artists to serve five onsite shifts.

An obvious limitation for artists within the communities, the co-operative was often forced to turn down some of the territory’s finest work.

“There’s a real beauty to a co-op, but it has limitations,” said Tanner.

The new venue has unleashed a floodgate of works, releasing many a Yukon sculpture or painting from obscurity.

When Tanner and Rosati opened their walls and display columns for business, they were astounded by the volume of work produced.

“You talk to half of these guys and they say, ‘We’ve got all kinds of art sitting around in our basement—we’ve got no place to sell it,’” said Rosati.

Near the entrance are three stunning paintings by Old Crow artist Megan Garrett. Before Copper Moon, Garrett’s work had never been able to travel below the Arctic Circle, said Rosati.

“I’ll cry when this one gets sold,” said Rosati, pointing to Garrett’s colourful depiction of the Old Crow sky.

Some of the territory’s biggest art names also find their place on the Copper Moon walls, but the gallery offers them a chance to branch out from their traditional styles.

“A lot of the artists are trying to do things that are a little more artistic, instead of just things that will sell,” said Rosati.

“We’re not working on the ‘big sell,’” said Rosati.

“We have to pay our bills just like everyone else, but since I’m the landlord and the staff I can eat peanut-butter-and-jam sandwiches for a little white,” she said.

Tanner tried to bring in a wide range of all things northern, with pieces from the Yukon, Northwest Territories and even Northern Quebec. Stylistic range is also emphasized. Near the back, a series of psychedelic paintings by Lama Lodro stand out against the mainly flora and fauna scenes surrounding it.

A series of shadow boxes depicting cloth personages in dark, dream-like scenes is positioned near the door, a submission by a student at Porter Creek Secondary.

Rosati’s own handmade wooden boxes sit against the back wall. As a budding artisan, she saw firsthand the territory’s lack of visual arts venues.

“I thought, ‘Where will I sell it?’” she said.

Handmade knives by George Roberts and leather sheaths by Moe Goguen line the front desk.

“Just as we want to get artists out of the woodwork, we want to get art appreciators out of the woodwork,” said Rosati.

When her marriage broke up, Rosati suddenly found herself with a massive warehouse to fill.

Defying all sane conventions of landlordship, Rosati sought combed the artistic community for tenants, subdividing the property into art studios.

Installing new walls, floors and ceilings—the former industrial storehouse became a warren of artistic studio spaces. With studio space in tight supply, the building was quickly swarmed by artists whose artistic endeavours and small living spaces often did not jive.

“They didn’t even have a house, half of them,” said Rosati.

Bird breeders, bands, potters, and papermakers have all passed through the property. Accommodating the property’s artistic myriad has been labour-intensive. Rosati often puts in extra hours to meet the space-specific quirks of her tenants, be they soundproofed walls for a recording studio or a garage door for a car stereo installer.

“Whether or not it was cost-effective over the long run, the average person would say, ‘no,’” said Rosati.

“But it paid the bills … and it was more fun,” she said.

The grand opening for the Copper Moon gallery is from 5 to 9 p.m. Opening ceremonies commence at 6 p.m.

Contact Tristin Hopper at

tristinh@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In a Feb. 17 statement, the City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology used for emergency response. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Three words could make all the difference in an emergency

City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology

Jesse Whelen, Blood Ties Four Directions harm reduction councillor, demonstrates how the organization tests for fentanyl in drugs in Whitehorse on May 12, 2020. The Yukon Coroner’s Service has confirmed three drug overdose deaths and one probable overdose death since mid-January. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three overdose deaths caused by “varying levels of cocaine and fentanyl,” coroner says

Heather Jones says overdoses continue to take lives at an “alarming rate”

Wyatt's World for Feb. 24, 2021.
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Approximately 30 Yukoners protest for justice outside the Whitehorse courthouse on Feb. 22, while a preliminary assault hearing takes place inside. The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, based in Watson Lake, put out a call to action over the weekend. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Courthouse rally denounces violence against Indigenous women

The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society put out a call to action

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

The Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter of understanding under the territory’s new procurement policy. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
First Nation business registry planned under new procurement system

Letter of understanding signals plans to develop registry, boost procurement opportunities

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)
New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Start of spring sitting announced

The Yukon legislature is set to resume for the spring sitting on… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Most Read