Thirty hours of intensive art training in two different media over the course of 3½ days: That’s Region V Art Fest, an annual event for high school visual art students across Southeast Alaska. After three 13-hour days, the event culminates in a public art show where students compete for the titles of Best of Work brought from Home, Best of Art Fest, and the Kirk Garbisch Award.
Ceramics master and Wrangell art teacher Kurt Garbisch instigated this exchange when he and his school district invited art teachers across Southeast to bring their best students to Wrangell 17 years ago. The award in his name salutes the spirit of Art Fest: Being open to trying new things, dedicated to doing your best, and investing personal creativity. The fest is organized through the Alaska School Activities Association.
Attending art teachers are expected to teach a workshop, and they get to take a workshop. The hosting community arranges for local professional artists to teach workshops as well. This keeps class sizes small, and usually amounts to at least 20 different workshops offered. This year, Kat Palmer, MAT student-teacher with Juneau-Douglas High School, offered an assemblage workshop. Heather Ridgway of Thunder Mountain High School offered block-printing and took the Alder Spoon Carving workshop from master carver Jon Rowan of Klawock. Some of the many extraordinary Yakutat artists to serve Art Fest were Fred Bemis in formline design, Jennie Wheeler in spruce root basket-weaving, Eli Hanlon in metalwork, Carol Pate in Raventail weaving, and Bert Adams in oil painting, among others.
Thunder Mountain High School students Thea Sangster, Madison Gregory, Jennifer Miller, Tyler Corcoran, Acacia Poulson-Edwards, Madison Gilberto and Haley Price attended and received honorable mentions in workshops such as beading, formline on skate-decks, watercolor and drum-making. All agreed the opportunity to meet other art students from across Southeast Alaska and to learn from new instructors in new media was a life-changing experience.
“Becoming good friends with kids you might not otherwise hang-out with was the most important part,” they agreed at the last Art Fest team meeting.
Art Fest 2015 will be held the first week of May in Wrangell, with Wrangell’s new art teacher and metals artist, Anne Luetkemeyer.
Juneau last hosted Art Fest in 2005.
For more information, visit http://artfest2014.weebly.com/