By Mike Dunham
In all honesty, I was at “Lion King” on Friday night and had to make the rounds on a subsequent afternoon. The big show was the opening reception for Earth Fire & Fibre XXVII at the Anchorage Museum, which I hear was mobbed. The biennial exhibit is on the smallish fourth floor of the museum’s new addition, adequate for the pieces on display, but a squeeze if more than 20 people show up.
Margo Klass’ Juror’s Choice Award-Winning “Book of Good Intentions” (actually four books) is rather small; it rather invites handling to examine fully, but is in a glass case.
I was struck by the amount of beadwork included in the show. A homey beaded purse by Kate Boyan; mysterious beaded hands by Jeannie Bench; uproarious beaded tricycle by Paula Rasmus-Dede; beaded tide pool and vegetable images by Beth Blankenship, who also an eye-catching necklace made of clothespins and titled “Domestic Goddess” in the show. Most impressive to me was Keith Appel’s eight-foot-tall handwoven tapestry “Denali/The Great One.”
Also at the Museum, the statewide Alaska Positive photo exhibit. Juror Bill Owens gave the top award to Bonnie Landis, who had four haunting photos from her Whittier series included. Among other things, the photos display an odd flatness that combined with the usually geometric composition make you look twice to confirm that it’s a photograph. Owens other selections often had the same effect. Matt Johnson’s water image “Surfaces” is pure pattern, for instance. It’s almost impossible to make out the individual birds in John Schweider’s frantic “Sandpiper migration.” Dione Cuadra has a picture of a husky standing on rock in front of psychedelically blue and translucent ice. It’s titled “Mingma on the Edge of the Time-space Continuum,” a concept that might apply to several of the photos in the show.
Rarefied Light opened at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art. Jay Barrett’s Best of Show picture of soaking wet eagles looked like a painting in reproductions but turns out to be a real photograph when viewed up close. Among the other startling images is Kevin Smith’s “Fish Rack Akiak” with light glowing through salmon filets.
Larry McNeil was the juror for the small show at the Alaska Native Arts Foundation. Included in this show are photos by Da-Ka-Xeen Mehner and Erica Lord previously shown there, plus a couple of supernatural sunset scenes by Mike Demientieff, Jr. and calmer studies by Carmen Bydalek among other things. But what grabbed my attention was a gorgeous fancy parky by Anna Anvil near the 6th Ave. door of the gallery.
Facing 5th Ave., taped to the glass of the Egan Center, are portraits of “50 Alaskans” taken by Clark Mishler at the downtown statehood celebration in June. See who you recognize.
Finally, yet another juried show opened on Friday, the Alaska Watercolor Society’s 35th Annual Juried Exhibition, now on view at Virtu. Juror Don Andrews awarded Best of Show to Marilyn Lee of Ward Cove for a figure study, “Wearing Her Art.” (Personally, I preferred her moody “On the Eighth Day.”) The technical work is remarkably good in this show. I was struck by some fine work from Betty Atkinson, who also has new pieces on display at Artique, and a portrait of potter by Michael Murray of Homer, titled “The Artisan.”
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