ArtBeat: Arts council unveils new work for state Art Bank
The Alaska State Council on the Arts unveiled the 11
new pieces recently added to the Alaska Contemporary Art Bank at a reception on
Aug. 7. The works by Alaskans join more than 700 other paintings, photos,
sculptures and mixed-media items that are placed in public offices around the
The biggest crowd seemed to gather around Mark Tetpon’s “Inuit Hunter Mask,”
a large painted wood face surrounded by animal figures executed in whalebone and
ivory -- about half a walrus’ worth of ivory, from the looks of it. I was
particularly struck by the careful carving of two juxtaposed dancing walruses
whose arms curved over their heads, almost as thin as ribbons.
Another big piece was “Fractured Sea Ice” by Sheila Wyne. The heavy encaustic
media produced the appearance of a three-dimensional map. Another map form was
“Kachemak Tundra” by Deland Anderson, which showed the lower Kenai Peninsula
depicted in dots. Gail Niebrugge’s “Above the Wrangells” also gave the feeling
of a map in that it showed terrain from a high altitude. Landscape, a recurring
fixation for Alaska artists, was also featured in “Frost and Moraine,” an misty
and mysteriously evocative oil by David Rosenthal.
The acquisitions include two photographs, both taken in rural
Alaska: “Boy at Play, Quinhagak, AK” by Wayde Carroll and “Abandoned House
in Blizzard” by Mary Virginia Stroud. Fabric artists Julie Drake and Maria Shell
each had small pieces selected. A fine ink drawing by Sara Tabbert, “Marker II,”
was actually acquired in January in accord with the council’s custom of
purchasing Art Bank work from the artist who designs the annual Governor’s Arts
There were two Aleut hunting visors on display at the reception and listed as
"2014 Acquisitions" in the flier handed out at the door. One, “Spirit Hunter
2013,” by Peter Lind Jr., was purely decorative, almost a mask form similar
to Tetpon’s, with a miniature visor flanked by hunter’s tools, harpoon, line and
double-bladed paddle. The visor by Okalena Patricia Lekanoff Gregory was a
full-size traditional piece, decorated but suitable for use. Listed as
“new,” Gregory’s visor was not part of the formal round of acquisitions but,
like Tabbert’s drawing, obtained under a different program. It was acquired via
the council’s Alaska Living Cultural Treasure Master Artist Bentwood Hat
residency program in 2013, but received this year, hence its inclusion.
Perhaps the most alluring item was an exquisitely translucent and
fragile-looking paper-and-string basket by Annie Duffy titled “February Raven.”
Duffy will be making the Governor’s Arts Awards this year.
The Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development will
display some of the new Contemporary Art Bank pieces during the Anchorage Parade
of Homes, Sept. 12-14, at the “Alaska Home,” a habitation made and furnished
largely with Alaska goods and products.