We had a well attended ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the completion of the Government Hill Commons mural, titled, Common Ground. Many thanks to the Mayor of Anchorage, Ethan Berkowitz , the Governor’s chief of staff, Scott Kendall and Attwood Foundation director, Ira Perman for attending and speaking at this event. Also, my gratitude to the GHC board for their support, the Attwood Foundation for funding this project and for my dear husband and fellow artist, Graham Dane for his help painting the mural.
It has been such an honor to awarded a National Artist Fellowship this year from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF). The NACF invited all 20 fellows to a three-day convening in Portland, Oregon where we had the opportunity to get to know the artists, NACF supporters and staff. We were treated to presentations from previous and current fellows including performances in music such as an Inupiaq rap artist and Hawaiian slide guitarist, poetry reading, and an amazing screening by one the fellows who is a Hawaiian filmmaker. I really enjoyed getting to know everyone and thankful to be included with this talented group.
The convening culminated with a honoring ceremony at the Portland Museum and a moving Hawaiian cava ceremony. Many thanks to the NACF for supporting Hawaiian and Native American artists.
(photo credit- Sven Haakanson)
It’s been a busy summer and fall and I’m just finding time to catch up on blog entries from last spring. I wanted to enter a few comments and photos on a mural project I did with the kids of the village of Shaktoolik. Shaktoolik is an Inupiaq village on the Bering Sea and has been the center of Inupiaq culture for millennia. The village is also the rest station for the dog and mushers of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race.
A group of high school students and I designed a mural for the Armory Building, which is where the dogs and mushers stop and rest. The mushers bed their dogs on the west side of the building, away from the wind and enter for coffee, warm food and a nap.
The mural is made of primed plywood. The design is made-up of layered stencil images to evoke the texture of the tundra and the silhouettes of sled dogs to welcome the tired mushers and dogs to Shaktoolik.
I asked for volunteers, adults and kids for portrait photography as reference for future portrait paintings. I requested no smiles and for the kids, it was almost impossible! We all ended up in stitches as each subject struggled to keep a straight face!
I adopted a year old pup from the village and named him, Toolik and he has become a much loved member of my family in Anchorage. Many thanks to the lovely, generous people of Shaktoolik!
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The GHC mural was finished last week. We lucked out on a week long stretch of warm sunny weather, unusual for Anchorage in September. All that remains is an application of an anti-graffiti coat and the ribbon cutting ceremony next Monday Sept 24th. I really enjoyed painting this mural and each time I undertake such a project, I learn something new. Unlike my studio practice which is more intuitive, mural painting requires a strong focus on the design and a strict adherence to this design. A clear plan, well defined process and tried and tested choice of colors is necessary.
Here are a few images of the work in progress and the final piece. Many thanks to Graham Dane, my husband and creative partner with his help painting this mural.
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This summer I am painting a mural on a 14' x 100' cinder block wall for non-profit, The Government Hill Commons (GHC). The GHC is a community led project in which a orchard and garden will be planted on a vacant lot located on the west end of the residential area of Government Hill. The GHC is an experimental community garden located in an unusually warm micro-climate. The newly planted apple, pear, peach and cherry trees are already producing abundant fruit.
I was tasked to create a design that observed the mission of the project and the long history of Government Hill. GH is one of Anchorage's oldest neighborhoods, a community perched on a hill with an eagle eye view of downtown Anchorage, a mix of historical homes and buildings, low income housing alongside a Spanish immersion elementary school and flanked by the Alaska Railroad, the Ship Creek Industrial Area, the Anchorage Port and in its backyard the towering radio towers of ATT, as well as the mighty JBER Elmendorf Air Force Base.
I wanted to create a design that represents this plucky diverse community and found inspiration in the plants around me. These are the plants poking up through sidewalk cracks, in vacant lots, the trees pushing up through the rusty refuse car yards in Ship Creek, the tenacious plants we call weeds. Weeds are global, familiar and recognizable, a perfect counterpoint to the cultivated garden and orchard of the Commons.
Government Hill is all of these things, beauty, history, order, decay, growth, the organic and the industrial. This mural design represents the stubborn and unshakable spunk of this diverse community alongside the inspirational beauty and order of the Commons.
This is a work in progress, weather depending, to be finished before snowfall. The design process involved many long walks photographing of weeds, the creation of large scale stencils and a snap line grid design transfer system.
More mural updates to come. Many thanks to the Atwood Foundation for a grant funding this project.
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I was one of 20 artists selected for a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Artist Fellowship! This is an awesome opportunity and honor! Many thanks to the NACF for this award and for supporting my work. Here is a link to the NACF website with more information on this fellowship opportunity and profiles on the other 2018 fellows. Congratulations to fellow Alaska NACF awardees, Brian Adams and Alison Akootchook Warden.
I am honored to be one of 8 artists selected to show my work at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau, Alaska. This is the first solo exhibition series in the beautiful new ASM building. Many thanks to Jackie Manning, exhibition curator, ASM staff, and the Friends of the Museum.
Here are a few images of my solo exhibition at the Bunnell Arts Center in Homer, Alaska last August 2017. This show featured a new body of work, Russian Orthodox icon inspired portraits of Alaska Native women. A quote from the artist statement: " Rediscovering culture and recovering lost religious traditions are first steps in decolonization. I replace the symbolic elements of the symbolic elements of the Christian icon with those of the Alutiiq/Sugpiak people. My ancestors are of Russian and Alutiiq heritage. Colonization by Russian and the US greatly impacted the language and culture of my Alutiiq ancestors. In these paintings I acknowledge the assimilated symbols of the colonizer and elevate, as equals, the spiritual symbols of my native ancestors."
Many thanks to Asia Freeman, director of the Bunnell Street Art Center in Homer and her wonderful staff. Also, a big hug to owners of the Bistro Wild Honey, originally from Kodiak, who catered the reception with traditional salmon pie, "Pirok," a favorite dish of my Alutiiq grandmother.
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Inspired by German photographer, Karl Blossfeldt, black and white plant photography, students at Lake Otis explored plant forms of all varieties. We started with monochromatic studies, learning how to mix a range of values and later moved on to using limited color palettes. Each class day used a distinct color palette, Monday Blues etc. The students were encouraged to create their own imaginary plants and the results were stunning! Many thanks to Graham Dane for helping me assemble all 300+ paintings in a grand hallway mural.
Graham and I painted a dumpster last week, a pilot project with the Anchorage Downtown Partnership and the Anchorage Municipality. These painted dumpsters are will be deployed in the community of Mt. View. Graham painted a colorful abstract design and I worked with layered traditional tile pattern stencils and faux painting techniques. We were able to work on these inside, in the Anchorage Artist's Co-op.
I'm honored to have one of my photographs selected out of over 600 entries for this local annual juried photography contest. The juror this year is the esteemed, New York City photographer, Amy Arbus, daughter of the photography legend, Diane Arbus. Amy is known for her photographs of the East Village during the 1980's and her work for The Village Voice.
The image selected for this show is of a scene in the Railroad/Industrial sector of Anchorage near Ship Creek. I've long been fascinated with the juxtaposition of structures of old Anchorage and modern downtown structures in this area. The Quonset huts, sharply angled industrial storage buildings, the shiny downtown hotel and business buildings, traversed by railroad tracks and bisected by the king salmon filled Ship Creek meandering through the city, emptying into the treacherous mudflats and tidal flux of the Cook Inlet. Add to this the menacing flocks of nesting seagulls that patrol and launch attacks from industrial rooftops.
The curves of the Quonset, the adjacent block shaped building, separated by a feral tree, the evocative perspective of the railroad tracks....repeatedly caught my eye and begged for a deeper look.
My father worked for the State, DOT, once located near Ship Creek. I have memories, as a child piling into the station wagon with my mother and three siblings to pick him up after work. The area hasn't changed much, keeping my memories intact, something for which I am grateful.
The exhibit opens at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art, tomorrow, Friday 11/4.
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I recently painted four concrete road barriers located on a vacant lot near our studio on Mt. View Drive. With the blessing of the property owners, the Cook Inlet Housing Authority, I set out to add a little color to this busy stretch of the street, full of pedestrians and the site of a popular bus stop.
I was overwhelmed with well wishers, people stopping to chat, curious school children and cars honking with a big thumbs up, shouts of thank you and "so f'n awesome!" This was an unpaid gig, but well worth the effort, giving me a chance to experiment with faux painting techniques and layering stencils of traditional tile patterns from Spain, Portugal, India and Northern Africa. I was inspired by a recent trip to Cuba, the beautiful architectural layers of the aging city of old Havana. I hope to stimulate support for more public art and plant the seed, the idea of the endless possibilities of art in this diverse community.
I'll be working with the Municipality of Anchorage to paint dumpsters for Mt. View. Yes, dumpsters! The plan is to pair artists with local middle school students. mentor and help create, compose and execute positive art with the theme of healthy sustainable environments. I'm a big advocate for well conceived quality public art, so my students will spend time researching our theme, gathering images, creating a solid, meaningful and stimulating composition, practicing good painting practices and techniques before we apply paint to the dumpsters. I'll blog an update with images as this project progresses this winter (dumpsters will be housed indoors during the painting process).
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I've been commissioned to print and frame 8 black and white photographs for the Boney Court House. The photographs were taken this past year and are a product of many forays into Ship Creek Industrial Area and the Alaska Railroad yard. Ship Creek is a river that runs through the heart of downtown Anchorage and empties into Cook Inlet. Downtown professionals really can take a lunch break and catch a King Salmon at the mouth of Ship Creek.
The Ship Creek industrial area was once home of Tent City, the new city of Anchorage. Although the makeshift tent structure of long gone, the ubiquitous Alaskan Quonset Hut can be found in this area. The old Ship Creek Power Plant is an interesting subject for photography. Many junk and scrap yards live in this area as well. Here is the selection of photographs chosen by the Boney Court House art selection committee.
Karluk is a small Alutiiq village on the southwest side of the island of Kodiak. My mother was born here and many descendant's of her family still live here. I was pleased to have the opportunity to visit this village and paint with the students.
I am spending three weeks on Kodiak Island, an artist residency in Main Elementary School and one week visiting the villages of Karluk and Old Harbor. I am leaving today for Karluk. Here are images of the mural project at Main. Students were inspired by abstract patterns in nature, specifically abstract patterns in tree bark. We also looked at paintings by various abstract artists. The students produced paintings on canvas that I assembled and installed in the school library as trees.
The Water is Life project is an Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium program to promote awareness and appreciation of healthy community water resources. I was contracted by the ANTHC to produce a mural for the Yup'ik community of Russian Mission with a focus on cultural traditions surrounding water. The ANTHC team met with the community for a visioning session, to receive feedback on the mural design. I was moved by a session of Yup'ik dancers, led by a village elder. I am impressed with the respect for elders and their place in the continuity of village history, language and culture. The mural design features a Yup'ik dancer representing the continuity and flow of village culture and a river landscape honoring the Yukon River which brings life and sustenance to this community. The piece is made up of four 4 x 6ft and one 6 x 8ft canvas, total dimensions: 8 x 18ft. and will be installed in the school cafeteria.
I am working with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to create a mural in the remote Alaska village, Russian Mission. The mural will focus on the community resource of water. Our crew of three engineers, a film maker and myself, the artist, traveled to Russian Mission to meet with the community and to gather ideas and inspiration for the artwork. We will return, the week of March 28th. I will design and paint the mural and the rest of the crew will be involved in community water activities and projects. The flight to Russian Mission from Bethel was spectacular, with frozen rivers and lakes and snow free tundra.
I collaborated with my friend, biologist, Delia Vargas Kretsinger to produce a piece that addresses the issue of invasive plants in Alaska. I used vintage USGS AK maps, acrylic paint and pen and ink to render this piece. Delia provided images and documents of her work and I had the privilege to meet with her in Fairbanks to discuss her work with invasive plants. The piece will be in the exhibit, Arctic Perspectives, during the Arctic Science summit in Fairbanks.
Last spring 2014, Graham and I drove North to Denali to install "The Source" a 36 x 40" oil painting at the Denali Park Visitor's Center. This painting was product of a 2014 Denali Park Residency. Jay Elhard, the Park Residency program coordinator met with me to help hang the piece.
In collaboration with the Anchorage Community Land Trust, a generous grant from the Atwood Foundation, and the assistance of artist, Graham Dane, the Mt. View Hispanic Cultural Center Mural emerged. I had just returned from a two month residency in Santa Fe and was on a strict timeline to produce the mural before the weather turned. As long as the temps stayed above freezing and the paint did not freeze the project was on. We were blessed with a week of sunshine, enough time to set up scaffolding and paint the mural. The design was made with the residents of Mt. View in mind, the Hummingbird a universal good omen for this diverse community.