In a small building near the base of the Homer Spit is 59 North Creations, a gallery featuring work by owner Tracy Hansen and 15 other local artists.
Showcasing paintings, pottery, photography, fiber art, jewelry, candles, bath soaks, teas, mixed media and wearable art, all items are created locally and include a mix of artists ranging from high school students to more well-established members of the Homer art community.
Now in its third summer season, 59 North Creations is owned by Hansen, an acrylic painter who got her start at High Tide Arts on the Homer Spit, owned by Leslie Klaar. There, Hansen worked for several seasons learning the ins and outs of the gallery business and where she was first provided space to sell her paintings.
“Leslie is an artist and business owner I look up to,” Hansen said. “She gave me and many others space to show our work and she pushed me to broaden myself artistically. Watching her nurture artists in this way inspired me to want to do the same.”
And so Hansen bought her building, rented the location and invited her artist friends to join her.
“I knew so many people who weren’t really selling in shops and I wanted to create a space for both my work and theirs, and a place where I could tell customers that most everything is made in Homer,” she said.
At 59 North Creations, visitors will find Hansen’s acrylic paintings, crocheted plushies and hats by Michelle High of Moosey & Me, stickers by Homer High School student and artist Ally High of Polkadot Piggy Designs, candles by Vicki Sarber of Bay Avenue Candle Co., jewelry by mother and daughter Tracy and Emma Early or Early Girl Jewelry, jewelry by Jessica Barrowcliff of Alaska Beach Company, photography by Dan Ungrue of Ol Boys Photos, pottery by Jeff Szarzi, bath soaks and teas by Alaska Beauty Peony, mixed media healing hearts by Mavis Muller, birch earrings by Meghann Lipse of Lamp and Light Living, ink to press screen printed sweatshirts and T-shirts by Matt Turkington, postcards by Andrew Tomey of Arctic Still Photography, and jewelry and scrunches by high school artists McKenzie Hansen and Hannah Klima.
Located on the east side of the road near the base of the Homer Spit and accessed via FAA Road, 59 North Creations is open April through December. Hansen manages the shop on her own. Always looking for new artists, she hopes to expand to a second shop in the same location and she is also eager to help the landowner further develop the area to attract additional shops as well as a coffee vendor and food trucks.
“This is just a really great space,” Hansen said. “There’s lots of parking for customers and room for other businesses. Being in town, we can be open beyond the summer season, and I know so many other artists who are looking for space to sell their work and I’d like to be able to help them.”
Helping other artists is at the heart of Hansen’s focus. Beyond selling their work, she strives to nurture creativity in the community and has done so by teaching adult and youth beginner art classes at Homer Art & Frame, which she hopes to continue to offer this fall.
“Helping others find their own creativity to explore and try new things is very rewarding and inspires me to do new things too,” she said. “I love helping people who think they have no talent figure out what their artistic ability is.”
A working mom of two and a full-time artist and gallery owner, Hansen studied interior design and architecture and minored in art, but her lifelong passion for art was inspired in her youth by a great aunt.
“In her 60s, my aunt was a fabulous gypsy who traveled around the country painting because she could,” Hansen said. “When she’d visit us, she’d always be working on different pieces of art and I loved her enthusiasm. I guess I grabbed onto a little bit of that.”
When she and her husband moved to Homer 12 years ago, Hansen and fellow artist Tracy Early created a sign business, painting on reclaimed wood before Hansen turned to canvas where she utilizes a variety of mediums to create a first coat of texturing.
From paintbrush to pallet knife, Hansen continues to grow as an artist even as she inspires other’s creativity. Inspired by the world around her, she paints landscapes and oceanscapes, with trees, mountains, flowers and octopus frequent themes in her work.
Painting in her home studio and at her shop, Hansen has exhibited locally at High Tide Arts and Ptarmigan Arts and is currently showing a body of work at Grace Ridge Brewing through the end of July. Known for featuring bright colors and highly textured work, her exhibit showcases both in a series of 10 paintings depicting flowers — poppies, peonies, fireweed and more. Looking forward, Hansen is eager to create larger pieces, get her work into galleries around Alaska and continue to support other artists.
Always looking for new artists whose work is different than what she is carrying, her most recent addition to 59 North Creations is a group of local teenagers who are fundraising for a trip to Australia by selling their handmade jewelry. Hansen invites artists to message her or stop by 59 North Creations with a sample of their work. She is located at 1554 Spit Road and open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Frida, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.