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Yukon artists homeless

The Yukon's only artist-run gallery is getting turfed from their gallery space in the Rosati Arts and Business Centre.

The Yukon’s only artist-run gallery is getting turfed from their gallery space in the Rosati Arts and Business Centre.

Last Wednesday, the Yukon Artists at Work learned it would have to pack up their art supplies and gallery displays by April 21.

If they don’t find a new space by the end of the month, the group of 35 artists could be homeless.

“We’ve had a great run out there (in the Rosati building) but now it’s time to find a new place,” said Yukon sculptor Harreson Tanner.

The co-operative is looking for a new set of digs downtown and is searching for a patron to financially support the group.

The group already has a couple of ideas in mind, but nothing definite, he said.

The current gallery space, nestled between evergreen trees and overlooking mountains, had become a destination spot for visitors and Yukoners alike.

The group has operated out of the space for the last seven years bringing together as many as 44 artists under the same roof.

“The scenery around the place is really inspiring,” said artist Bob Atkinson who has been involved with the group for the last three years and makes furniture from willow branches.

“The setting of the place perhaps wasn’t ideal for everyone, but it got people out of town.”

It also spelled cheap rent for the artists, who operate on volunteer labour and a barebones budget.

“We’ve been renting that space far below standard rental levels,” said Tanner.

“We knew this day was going to come eventually.”

Tanner wouldn’t comment on how much rent the group actually paid.

Landlord Nerissa Rosati, who owns the building and also runs the Copper Moon Gallery next door, gave the group notice she was seeking tenants who can pay more rent.

“I weighed the situation as a landlord and decided I would be best off with other tenants,” she said.

The relationship between Rosati and the co-operative was always a good one, said both Rosati and Tanner.

And paying rent was never an issue, Rozatti stressed.

But a wobbly economy forced the landlord to search out other business opportunities that would be more viable, she said.

“When you have bills to pay you do whatever you have to do to get by.”

She isn’t certain who might be moving into the space, but hinted she had a couple art-related people in mind.

As for the co-operative, it’s not ruling out any possibilities.

“The ideal situation of course would be 2,000 square feet downtown on the waterfront,” said Tanner.

But the co-operative isn’t worried about finding a workable space, he says.

“When you get 25 to 30 creative artists together you’ll always get an interesting space in the end.”

The Yukon Artists at Work will remain open at the their location in the Rosati building until April 21st.

Painter Rosemary Piper will feature a short run of her work before the Yukon artists pack up and move out.

Contact Vivian Belik at