Artists for whale's tail art pieces announced

An undecorated whale's tail is shown at Marine Park last month.

Ten sets of local artists have been selected to decorate 10 whale’s tail sculptures around Juneau, in a public art project designed to support the continued creation of a 25-foot bronze whale sculpture by Skip Wallen for the Juneau waterfront. The project is being organized by the Whale Committee.


The 10 resin tales, created by UAS art students under the direction of Pedar Dalthorp, are 6 feet high and about 3 feet in diameter. After they receive their artistic embellishments, the tails will be placed in various locations around town, depending on their sponsors, throughout the summer. Tourists and locals will be invited to visit each of the tails in sequence, maybe getting a chance to vote on their favorite. At the end of the summer the tails will go up for auction.

Some of the artists selected for the project are among Juneau’s best known creative minds. Here’s a look at the full list.

Dan DeRoux, “Bubble Feeder”: Well-known local painter DeRoux, who currently has a solo show at the Alaska State Museum, will create a collection of painted bubbles to adorn his whale’s tail. His piece will be accompanied by a bubble machine.

Clarissa Rizal and Lily Hope, “Yáay Xhooni” (whale friend): This mother and daughter team, both well-known Tlingit weavers, will create a contemporary Northwest coast painting that, once applied to the tail, will be shallacked for outdoor use.

Gabe and Jerry Smetzer, “The Story of Flewn”: This father-son artist team will create a painting for the whale’s tale modeled on an image from Gabe Smetzer’s current animation project “The Story of Flewn” (see story on page C 1). Work on this piece will take place at this week’s Sunday Market at the JACC, where attendees can watch the artists at work.

Bruce Simonson, “Tales on the Tail”: Local conductor Bruce Simonson, of the Juneau Bach Society and other groups, will use his tail to showcase posters from past local art events, such as symphony performances, folk festivals, jazz and classic festivals, Perseverance Theater productions, and so on. The posters will be reduced in size and applied to the tail as decals, then shellacked.

Lauralye Alison-Miko “Juneau Rollergirls Kick Some Tail”: Multiple winner of previous Wearable Art shows in Juneau, Mico will celebrate the Juneau Rollergirls on her project, incorporating team members’ names and symbols in a bright graphic style

Pua Maunu, Jay Crondahl, Christine Crooks “Dive Splash”: Local artists Maunu, Crohdahl and Crooks, all members of the local painting group Plein Rain, will collaborate on an abstract design for their project, within which they will paint images of the of Southeast Alaskan landscape, plants and other elements.

Averyl Veliz, “Places in Culture”: Veliz, who currently has a solo show up at the City Museum, will create a digital illustration that incorporates formline design with natural locations around Juneau. Her work will then be printed on vinyl by Commerical Signs and Printing, who might also contribute some of the illustration or the work.

Bethany Rodriquez, “Patchwork Paratus”: Rodriguez’s piece will focus on Juneau’s connection to the US Coast Guard, with patches and emblems that feature local units. She’ll also incorporate rope knotwork in her design.

Fran Downey, Colleen Goldrich, Evelyn Rousso, “Zippity-doo-dah”: These three artists, who call themselves the Alley Cats, have made their presence in Juneau known through their colorful zip-tie creations on various sign posts around town. They’ll continue this unique art form on their whale’s tail, which will be covered in chicken wire and decked out in their favored medium.

Nona Dimond, “A Tail of Two Cities”: Dimond will create a bridge between the two tail flukes of her whales’ tail, representing the bridge between Juneau and Douglas. She’ll add attractions from both towns on their respective sides, decorating the piece with colored glass and beads.

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