I t’s a bit of a cruel request, asking Juneau arts lovers to choose just five moments from the year in arts, when most of them could probably name five every single week.

But the end result, a multi-voiced celebration of what is created here in Juneau on a regular basis, is worth this bit of frustration, providing a great perspective on what community members remember most strongly from the past year, and spurring gratitude for all that we’ve enjoyed -- as well as excitement for what’s to come.

Here, for the third year in a row, are top-five lists compiled by a handful of Juneauites. The Empire presents them here in a spirit of appreciation for all the artists and organizers who work to make sure our days and nights are lit by the energy of the arts.


• Juneau Jazz & Classics, Taj Mahal’s performance May 4. Proving that blues still swings, Taj Mahal returned to Juneau a quarter century after his last performance here and once again filled the aisles with dancing fans of all ages.

Celebration 2012, canoe arrival at Auke Bay Recreational Beach, June 6. A flotilla of Northwest-style Native canoes, each propelled by a dozen or more paddlers, exchanged greetings and songs with a crowd of hundreds lining the beach. The energy and pride of Native cultures in renaissance suffused the occasion.

Juneau Douglas City Museum presentation honoring the 100th anniversary of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, Oct. 20. Elder Marie Olson and the young and upcoming Native leader Ishmael Hope opened the event by offering their personal appreciation of an organization that, among many accomplishments, won civil rights in Alaska 20 years ahead of the national Civil Rights Act, and that went on to play a crucial role in the Alaska statehood movement.

Perseverance Theatre, the dancers of “Oklahoma!”, Nov-Dec 2012. The singing and music of the much-loved musical were entirely up to our expectations, but my wife Sandy and I were transfixed by the performances of Anouk Otsea and Misha Culver, two young women we have known since they were little girls. It was one of those moments when two children suddenly emerged before our eyes as a fully-formed adults, both confident ballerinas dancing with fluid grace and maturity. For us, they stole the show.

• The Juneau Arts & Culture Center (JACC) 2012. An ongoing performance art conducted by Nancy DeCherney and her capable crew has transformed an old, dilapidated building into a dynamic center of community events ranging from farmers markets to string quartets. Kudos to the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council.

-- Peter Metcalfe



• The advent of live music at the Nickelodeon Theatre for silent films (the Not-So-Silent Film Series).

• The Break of Reality quartet, part of the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council’s concert series.

Nora Dauenhauer’s reception upon her becoming Writer Laureate of Alaska.

• The vote to have a 1 percent sales tax go to the JACC and the future Walter Sobeloff Center.

• The play production of “Flipzoids” at McPhetres Hall, a joint project produced by Generator Theater Company and the Filipino Community, Inc. and directed by Generator’s Flordelino Lagundino.

– Dave Hunsaker




RumbleFish meets Buster Keaton at the Nickelodeon... great work by the band on the live soundtrack for “The General”;

• the wonderful concert by Riders in the Sky at the JDHS Auditorium;

“Out Of The Rain”, a photo essay exhibit at the Alaska State Museum about citizens of Juneau transitioning from homeless to having housing;

• The “Filipino American History Month” exhibition at the state museum that explored the history and connections of the Filipino community to Juneau and the region;

• the symposium led by the state museum’s Curator of Collections Steve Henrikson, in conjunction with the summer exhibition “Alaska at War: World War II”, where veterans that served in Alaska told their stories.

-- Bob Banghart




Zuill Bailey: We are fortunate that he is the new artistic director of the Sitka Music Festival. He is clearly a natural teacher, as well as a great performer.

Break of Reality gave a terrifically entertaining concert, with lots of energy and fresh ideas.

• And of course Taj Mahal. What a wonderful old guy.

• “Lion in Winter” or “Macbeth.” Take your pick. Equally gloomy and equally well done.

• The columns by Xh’unei Lance Twitchell have been beautifully written and full of heart. It has been a thrill to hear the Tlingit language being used by more young people in this community.

-- Jim Simard




Brett Crawford’s recital, “Some of My Favorites” in March. Brett had been talking about having his own recital for a very long time, but he kept putting it off, never really believing that he could draw a crowd or actually entertain an audience for an hour or so by himself. Finally seeing him perform for a very full house, watching the joy on the faces of the audience and then participating in the standing ovation at the end was an incredible thrill. I never doubted him for a minute!

• The Alaska Festival Singers Tour of Europe in May. So many folks from Juneau have been singing and performing together several times each year for more than 20 years with Dr. Byron McGilvray and a European tour has been talked about since the very beginning. In 2012 we finally made it happen. A group of 14 singers from Juneau rehearsed three to four times a week to put together an amazing program of music and on May 24, we gathered in Vatican City and kicked off our tour with a heart-stopping performance at St. Peter’s Basilica. It was a musical journey of a lifetime for me and sharing that adventure with Byron and some of the best people I know from Juneau was a dream come true.

Bailey & Bach: the complete Bach Suites for Unaccompanied Cello in September. In July, my son began taking cello lessons so when I saw the Juneau Jazz & Classics posters for the upcoming performance by renowned cellist Zuill Bailey, I knew that Finn and I had to be there in the audience. I could go on for paragraphs about how beautifully Mr. Bailey performed; about how charming he was as he talked to the audience of his life and his beloved instrument, or about the suites themselves –possibly the greatest musical works of all time... Yes, sharing the musical discovery and beauty of that night with my 11-year-old son was a memory I’ll treasure the rest of my life.

Argentine Tango Workshop with Richard Council in September. I am absolutely terrified of Tango and I adore it at the same time. Tango is not a dance that can be memorized and planned for – you have to be willing to let go and live in the moment, trusting and listening to your partner without ever saying a word. Thanks to Pat Belec of The Dance Loft, the 2003 IDO US Argentine Tango Champion, Richard Council, was in Juneau for two weeks to share his incredible talent and his love of all things Tango. I am so excited for Richard’s return in August 2013!

• ‘Hairspray’ in November. As one of the producers of this show, I believe this was one of the most exhausting, thrilling, funny, terrifying and rewarding experiences of my life. From behind the scenes, it was like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree on a daily basis. Our director, Hal Ryder, gave me a big hug one day and said, “Scarlett, we are problem solvers so let’s go solve today’s latest problem.” But, from my seat in the audience, every night was fresh, fun and brilliant. As I moved through the house, watching the actors and the audience reaction to each scene, I was so full of pride for the cast, crew and orchestra that on more than one occasion I felt tears well up and spill over. Live theatre is not for the faint of heart, but for those willing to risk much, the rewards are immeasurable.

-- Scarlett Adam




Theatre in the Rough’s “Lion in Winter” in February. Aaron and Katie go at each other with a good script in the McPhetres Hall theatre. Need I say more.

Juneau Student Symphony concert with Juneau Dance Unlimited playing a program of Hungarian and Slavonic dances at the JACC March 3 and 4. Visions of young, leaping, twirling dancers to exciting well-played music.

• The Juneau Symphony’s Thursday night rehearsal of Brahms Symphony No. 1 and the following Saturday concert in March. Fascinating to listen to conductor Kyle Wiley Pickett at rehearsal coax and meld the symphony into giving a superb rendition of the multi-layered, complex Brahms. Its stirring theme from the 4th movement still surfaces in my head months later. Dropping in on symphony rehearsals is my new favorite arts pastime. I learn a lot about the music and how an orchestra comes together.

Goldtown Nickelodeon Theatre’s showing of Buster Keaton’s silent film classic “The General” with live old-time string band music by Rumblefish in December. A live music soundtrack to one of the great silent film comedies. Excellent selection of tunes by Andy Ferguson and the band to go with the movie. Colette Costa has come up with the great idea of having local musicians perform to silent films. I hope we have more in the future.

Juneau Bach Society chorus and orchestra doing two Bach cantatas with the usual great commentary by conductor Bruce Simonson in December.

-- Tom Paul




David Vann at the Juneau Public Library. Technically, this was late last year, but Vann’s reading and short lecture was pitch perfect for a gloomy Southeast winter.

ª “Animals Out of Paper” at Perseverance Theatre. My first Perseverance production -- I’m hooked.

Tim Easton’s performance at The Rookery. Tim used to come to Fairbanks regularly when we lived there. It was so nice to see him is such an intimate venue like The Rookery during Folk Fest

Alaska Positive exhibit at the Alaska State Museum. Holly Andres selected a beautiful cross section of photographs this year, and the exhibit gave me great hope for the state of photography in Alaska.

UAS Art Department Open House. The faculty, community and students came together for a celebration of art. The support this night was amazing, and stood as a true representation of the support of art in Juneau.

-- Ben Huff




Zombies Invade October First Friday. During the KXLL Annual Zombie Walk, the Rise of the Living Locals takes place upon an unsuspecting crowd of First Friday shoppers, as locals rise from their eternal rest and retake the town after the last cruise ship leaves. The red corn syrup flows in the streets as the horrible feast consumes all. Then we have a party. Super fun.

4th of July FishFest. Bluegrass and BEATS, as the Sean McCole Trio shared the stage with hometown heroes the File Jerks. It didn’t rain during the fireworks this year and we got a great view as the barge was anchored directly across from the Twisted Fish. This party got loud.

Glitters. High concept art project and concert and party that no one understood! By KXLL standards, hardly anyone came to this event - and I feel sorry for everyone who missed it. It was the genesis of the formation of a very cool local band called the B Team All Stars - a combination of Tiger Pilot and Playboy Spaceman. Artist Sarah Conarro helped Juneau create a public artwork, then we celebrated with a party, then a month later we hung the artwork on the side of KTOO for the rainiest month in the history of earth, and people either loved it or they didn’t, but it was creative, fun, sparkly, thought-provoking and soggy! I was so proud to be a small part of it!

Goldtown events “Nosferatu” and “The General.” Silent movies shown with original live music from live Juneau bands. Transcendent. The vampire classic “Nosferatu” was shown at Halloween and the music came from masterminds George and Bridget Kuhar. Hard to describe how wonderfully this combination of electronic, electric and vocal music worked to update this film. Anyway, it just did - it worked. “The General” - a Buster Keaton classic considered perhaps the greatest silent film of all time - was accompanied by music from Rumblefish in a style that beautifully matched the civil war era of the movie. They also provided perfect sound effects such as train whistles and lightning strikes. If Colette Costa at Goldtown sets up another one of these -- get your tickets early.

New Years Block Party at the Wharf. The idea -- let’s block off the Wharf building, open up Roma, the Ballroom and the Hangar into the hallway, and have different music happening in different rooms, pizza by the slice all night, a champagne toast at midnight and balloons everywhere by Nightmoods. The result: 800+ people all ringing in the New Year in possibly the best party I’ve ever been a part of. The music was amazing -- File Jerks in the Hangar re-enacting the Ultra Music Festival, and Kari Groven and the Wristrockets classing up the joint in the ballroom. This year File Jerks are back, and in the ballroom will be Deering and Down! Can you say “Off the Hizzay?” I knew you could.

--Andy Kline




Capital City Weekly: Working as the staff writer for the Capital City Weekly since January 2012 has been very fulfilling. To be able to wake up in the morning and say: “What do I want to know about? What do other people want to know about? How can I help someone?” and then to work towards answering those questions as my job description makes me feel quite lucky. Having moved here just half a year before taking the job, it’s been a great vessel to meet community members, especially ones I would have been unlikely to approach had my job not been to do so.

Mudrooms: Mudrooms, Juneau’s monthly live storytelling event, has been one of the biggest highlights for me in 2012. The premise of the event, (7 community members share a 7-minute story loosely based on a particular theme), has opened pieces of a breadth of individuals and shared them to an encouraging and receptive audience. That the Juneau community has embraced the event so strongly, that each month the event evolves and blossoms and morphs into a different creature, that to experience this and simultaneously raise a substantial amount of money from admission for various charities, is a combination unmatched. I’m honored to be part of the Mudrooms team, and blessed by the company that helps organize and support it.

Zuill Bailey: The Bach performance of Zuill Bailey in September was an emotionally poetic period of euphoria. I ditched the cello during college but the instrument’s depth and soul spinning sound resonates to my core. Bailey’s position, as the delivery man of emotion in the form of sound waves, was a heated task, which he performed with gusto and sex appeal.

My garden: There are three raised beds in the yard outside my apartment. I’ve generally employed a rather cavalier approach to gardening: planting seeds late enough to make many seasoned green thumbs cringe, foregoing straight and even rows of plants for something with more of an arched and curvaceous style and waiting to address the region’s renowned slug populations until they end up on the dinner plate. It’s proven a profitable approach, with glorious carrots, abundant kale and cilantro and arugula thick enough to hide in, if you were a Barbie.

First Fridays: The monthly art walks, besides a wonderful excuse to bump into people one visits with, say, once a month, are yet another example of the seemingly higher-than-average abundance of talent the city of Juneau contains.

-- Amanda Tatter Kulik Compton




Sometimes an event stops our daily routines and forces us to pause. What happened in Newtown, the unnecessary death of 20 tiny schoolchildren and their educators, made me cry. To erase my tears I am going to remember five wonderful moments with children at the heart of the art this past year in Juneau.

The Governor’s Holiday Open House is billed as an afternoon to scoop up sugary delights, but if you listen, there are young people singing and playing music inside and out. Cheers to the people who invite and choreograph the bands and choirs in and out of the mansion and to the musicians’ directors who practice, costume, and transport them at the busiest time of the year.

• My 5-year-old grandson invited me to attend the Evening at Egan lecture presented by the author Karsten Heuer of “Being Caribou.” As the biologist showed images of his thousand-mile trek following a caribou herd, we looked at the same pictures in a children’s book my grandson had brought. Listening to the author describe wild animals whose lives are dangerously disrupted by mankind, I felt blessed to be living in Juneau where conversations of this caliber happen and the public, people of all ages, are invited to attend for free.

• This past summer a brand new play written by local Tlingit playwright Ishmael Hope was staged as part of Perseverance Theatre’s STAR (Summer Theatre Arts Rendezvous) program. Youth explored Tlingit traditions, worked with the playwright and the director, George Holly, and then performed a traditional story important to Alaska Natives. The cast was honored by the attendance of people mentioned in the script. The blending of youth and place-based Alaska Native tradition is important work.

Juneau Dance Unlimited’s “The Nutcracker” is another example of high quality work done with children.

• And finally I would like to mention the production of “King Island Christmas.” Adults and youth retelling an Alaskan story captured poignantly in song was a present I gave myself this holiday. -- Barbara Jo Maier




• The Juneau Symphony’s performance of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. Wonderful that music of this caliber can be performed by our own symphony.

• “Of Mice and Men” at Perseverance. I have long been a fan of John Steinbeck’s work in general and “Of Mice and Men” in particular. The Perseverance performance was true to the nuances of his story.

M.K. McNaughton’s Voices in the Wilderness exhibit on First Friday of December. A display of both quantity and quality showcasing a wilderness area of western Alaska.

Celebration of Nora Dauenhauer‘s selection as Alaska State Writer Laureate. Amazing that a woman who spoke only Tlingit as a child mastered another language — English. What can be more appropriate than having a Tlingit woman chosen.

Launch of Tidal Echoes. Reading by Kim Heacox of “Yesterday.”

-- Richard and Jane Stokes




• The amazing girls of Thunder Mountain High School’s first-ever advanced placement art class still resonate into the new school year, as their artwork graces our halls, and my computer: Thank you Lynzey Culver, Emily Ropp, and Evelyn Walker, for giving it your all!

• One of their artworks inspired my own art at the university this year, in Pedar Dalthorp’s printmaking class. That’s another Juneau art I’m thankful for: quality, college-level art classes, right here, in beautiful Auke Bay.

• What a joy to see Kevin Bennett and Bostin Christopher perform George and Lennie in “Of Mice and Men” with Perseverance Theatre, not to mention the sets Erik Chadwell built! Shona Strausser’s direction of one of my favorite musicals, “Oklahoma!,” was a big fat cherry on top!! We’re so fortunate to have a local theater that can afford such artists and craftsmen. Let’s keep supporting them, Juneau!

Plein Rein, in their consistent, casual Saturday meetings, gave me the structure I needed to get out and reflect on our immediate beautiful surroundings enough to complete one painting of fireweed this summer -- a feat cleaning my garage would’ve beaten out, if it weren’t for the hearty, happy company of this group of fine artists and their support!

• Being a teacher, I can’t help but be inspired by my students all the time. The TMHS Art Club has accomplished so much in the last year: two awesome new, student-designed Falcon logos brought to graphic finish, printed on polar-fleece throws, and painted on the windows of our main entrance... It’s truly wonderful what young hearts and minds can do given a little support and encouragement.

The Gold Town Nickelodeon. Live music accompanying Buster Keaton, KRNN recorded interviews and concerts, the live interview with Pee-Wee’s Playhouse artist, Wayne White... The list goes on and on. I’m in awe of all the people who throw themselves into organizing and supporting the unique events there, and it’s still my favorite place to unwind and catch a flick, even if I sometimes feel like I should stay and help sweep-up afterwards.

-- Heather K Ridgway




Mudrooms: Storytelling is the foundation. It’s the form from which theater, cinema, novels and the rest stem. A good storyteller will carry you along with no props, special effects, or blocking. They just stand and crack open a frothy tale. One storyteller talked about finding a body; another had two stomachs! In Juneau! A good story is a special thing and as Mudrooms proves, Juneau is full of them.

KXLL: KXLL is involved in all things hip. Because of KXLL, I have a rocking running mix that motivates me to move. Because of KXLL, I’m not obese. So if only for the sake of Juneau’s waistline, please give KXLL your support.

Child-friendly events: The list includes “A Cat in Paris” at the Nickelodeon, “Hairspray” by the JDHS drama department and Juneau Lyric Opera (the adult humor flew over little one’s heads), Pixar movies like “Brave” at Gross Alaska, and “The Nutcracker” by Juneau Dance Unlimited. A special shout out for the “Tot Rave” put on by Gold Creek day care, where children and adults dance to actual dance music and NO RAFFI. No need for a babysitter on these nights.

Gold Town Nickelodeon: There was a time I was a projectionist there. Lo these many years, owners have changed and so has the schedule. The purpose is still the same. The best movies, independent, foreign, challenging, are shown here. The best local films are shown here too at the soul and heart of Juneau’s movie scene, the JUMP festival.

Juneau’s writers: Should there actually be an apocalypse some day and the only place left is Juneau, it’s nice to know we have a full suite of writers to document our struggles with rebuilding civilization. From Richard Stokes to Christy Namee Eriksen, we have poets to capture the emotion. Lynn Schooler will find nuance in the interpersonal relations and grandeur in the survival. Marianne Call will put wry brilliant lyrics into song. Geoff Kirsch will keep us laughing and from killing each other. Richard Moniak will put it all into perspective. I’m glad they’re here.

-- Clint Jefferson Farr




Animals out of Paper at Perseverance Theatre. My parents gave me a great Christmas gift – a half-season pass for Perseverance Theater — and that got me to plays I may not have thought to go to had I not had the date lined up. “Animals out of Paper” stood out for me because the seemingly small story was so big emotionally, plus I’d buy the soundtrack.

Investing in art. I don’t have much money, but sometimes I make the decision to buy art — by local artists. This year I nearly had to physically fend off other would-be purchasers of a ceramic and wood wall hanging while waiting for my boyfriend to come help me purchase it, since I had recently lost my debit card.

Friends’ art shows. I have a lot of really talented friends and I think I had an opening to attend each month for people who I really love, and whose art is wonderful. I can’t even remember all of them at the moment.

Out of town guests. Juneau is out of the way and most of the wonderful music we hear is locally made, but I was thrilled when Larry and His Flask — a Central Oregon-based band made up mostly of people I went to high school with — came to Juneau and performed a raucous show at the Alaskan Bar, at no cover charge to attendees. We also had a visit from Meg Mackey, who got her start in Juneau but moved to Anchorage to keep growing.

The Alaska Robotics Store opening. I love comics and graphic novels and related art, so when the Alaska Robotics crew decided it was time to move and expand their selection, I was thrilled. You can find all the best from around the world, but also books and art by some very talented locals.

-- Melissa Griffiths




• Seeing Taj Mahal perform in Juneau

• Hosting the ART Open House at UAS

• Being chosen as the featured artist in the Tidal Echoes literary journal

• The bourbon brunch at the Alaska Folk Festival

• Seeing Frank Solivan perform at the Gold Town Nickelodeon with his new band

-- Jeremy Kane




• “Boreal Birch: Art and Science in the Northern Forest” exhibit at the Alaska State Museum in January: This three-part show featured paintings by Kesler Woodward, photography by the late Barry McWayne and multimedia box constructions by Margo Klass. All three artists used the birch tree as a point of orientation, meeting every month for more than two years to talk about their approaches to the subject, and enlisting the expertise of scientist Kimberley Maher. Trying to catch glimpses of the lines of inspiration running between the artists’ work — in looking at how they used empty space, for example — was one of the fascinating things about this show; beyond that, the pieces were stunning on their own.

The cello, two ways. First, Zuill Bailey lulled his audience into a state of bliss with his performance of all six of Bach’s cello suites in September. An extremely expressive musician, Bailey not only opened up the magnificent complexity of Bach’s genius through his bow and fingers, but also invited us into his own mind, sharing his approaches to the pieces and helping us to understand his personal relationship to the music. A gift I won’t forget.

A month later, Break of Reality brought that same instrument to an entirely different place with their red-hot performance at the JACC. Playing everything from heavy metal covers to classical pieces to original works composed on the spot, this quartet delivered a jaw-dropping performance unlike anything I’ve ever heard.

Playboy Spaceman, Tiger Pilot and B Team All Stars. I continue to be blown away by Playboy Spaceman’s George Kuhar and Bridget Cross, and this year was happy to be introduced to their newly formed four-man band B Team All Stars, which also features Morgan Deering and Nick Wagner of Tiger Pilot. These four put on an amazing show at the Glitterz event at the JAHC, first as separate acts and then as a combined band – awesome.

• The JAHC”s Wearable Art Extravaganza. From the very first time I saw this show at the Elks Lodge many years ago, I have been completely hooked – and it seems to only get better with time. Part performance art, part visual art, part fashion show, this event is entirely unpredictable, super high energy, and a testament to local creativity. Not to be missed.

Celebration: This year’s Celebration struck me with even more force than it has in the past, I think because of all I have learned about Alaska Native culture and traditions through my job here at the Empire. As I watched the dancers, listened to the songs and admired the regalia and clan crests, I heard echoes of the voices of weavers and carvers and beaders and others I have interviewed in the past year, feeling grateful for all those opportunities to expand my understanding.

-- Amy Fletcher


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