A few days ago I visited the Rasmuson Gallery of Alaskan
Artists, located at Rhetorica
(203, 235, 86). The SL
Rasmuson Gallery eliminates the miles and miles that separate us in RL and lets
us experience the people and their art that we might otherwise never get to see. In RL it is located at the University of
Alaska in Fairbanks. In SL, a quick teleport takes you to an open-air,
multi-story gallery filled with light and connected by a virtual flowing
The current exhibit highlights the winners of the 2012
Individual Artists Awards. There was a
simultaneous event held in RL and SL on June 5 when the Rasmuson Foundation
announced the winners. This was the
sixth year that they have held the event in both RL and SL. According
to their press release, the SL location was projected on a big screen at the RL
event located in Anchorage, Alaska.
Distinguished Artist Award was presented to Kes Woodward from Fairbanks for Visual
Arts. He received a $25,000 Award. He was born in South Carolina and moved to
Alaska in 1977. He is a Professor of Art
Emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he taught for twenty years.
In October 2004 he received the first
Alaska Governor's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.
Awards of $12,000 each were presented to Da-ka-xeen Mehner, Visual Arts; Jack Dalton,
Presentation Interpretation; Tommy Joseph, Visual Arts; Karina Moeller, Music
Composition; Kat Tomka, Visual Arts; Brendan Harrington, Visual Arts; Sonya
Kelliher-Combs, Visual Arts’; Philip Munger, Music Composition; Morris Palter,
Presentation Interpretation; and Laura Bliss Spaan, Media Arts.
As you walk through the gallery, there are photos and
notecards of the featured artists and exhibits of their work. The art is beautiful, and the artists are a
very diverse group. Da-ka-xeen Mehner, who was born
in Fairbanks, describes his parents as Tlingit/N'ishga (mother) and Hippy/American
(father). His work examines his multicultural
heritage as an urban Native American in Anchorage and as a rural Hippy in
Fairbanks living without electricity, running water or phones. He is an Assistant Professor of Native Arts
at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the director of the UAF Native Arts
Joseph, of the Eagle Moiety, Kaagwaantaan Clan, has been a Northwest Coast carver
for over twenty years. He carves totem
poles, masks, bentwood boxes, and more. He
is now working on Tlingit battle dress and armor.
Moeller is an Inuit performer from Greenland, but has lived in Alaska for 16
years with her three children. She has
toured all over the world with the Greenlandic Theater Silamiut and with the
Alaskan group, Pamyua.
Munger debuted as conductor in 1963, and he also helped start the South Seattle
Youth Symphony. Currently he is Interim Director of the Anchorage Civic
Orchestra. He has been on the faculty of
the University of Alaska Anchorage since 1995, and he has also been named to
the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Bugler Hall of Fame.
Bliss Spaan is a visual storyteller, journalist, and independent filmmaker whose
work has been nominated for Emmy awards.
She frequently focuses on the Eyak people. “More Than Words” tells about the last Native
speaker of the Eyak language while “Parlez-Vous, Eyak?”, her most recent film, follows
the Eyaks and a young man from France who is helping them to learn their
language. She is currently working with
the Eyaks to create new stories in their own language using archival audio and
is a Professor of Art and the Program Director for the Painting program at the
University of Alaska Anchorage. Her art work
has been exhibited in West Africa, London, Germany, Canada, the Czech Republic,
and throughout the U.S.
Harrington was born in Massachusetts and raised in Kodiak and Juneau, Alaska. Throughout most of his life he has combined
working as an artist and as a commercial fisherman. He lives in Kodiak,
Alaska now, but he lived in Germany for a while. In addition to exhibits in the U.S., his drawings
and paintings have also been exhibited in Europe.
Muller is a "story weaver" from Homer, Alaska, who combines basketry,
poetry, and storytelling. As she weaves baskets, she tells about the plants,
trees and landscapes and how they are carriers of messages and blessings. Her baskets have also been exhibited in
museums, art galleries, and juried art shows.
McGuire is a writer from Cordova who focuses on contemporary Alaskan life. Her work has appeared in Quarterly West, River Teeth
and ISLE. She has been recognized by
Association of Writers and Publishers and The
Atlantic Monthly. She has written two books which have been excerpted in literary
Last year's event was filmed and will be part of a film
being produced by Pooky Media, a SL company.
The film is expected to debut this month and will show how the Rasmuson
Foundation is using SL to promote Alaskan art to a world-wide audience.