A path by Amalga Harbor leads to a red cabin surrounded by forest, the Peterson Creek “Salt Chuck” nearby and a view of Lynn Canal ahead. It was the territorial governor Ernest Gruening’s summer home, and today it’s a State Historic Park. Alaska State Parks opened the cabin in 2015 for the Arts in Parks initiative, an artist-in-residence program for the cabin and two other sites in Alaska.
Juneau painter Patti Hutchens-Jouppi was one of the first to participate, and she is back again this year to spend two weeks capturing the landscape with her brush.
“The average day here is just so pretty being here on the water. I usually paint in the morning and take a break and go paddling. I hauled my kayak here. I took a break yesterday afternoon and caught a Dolly Varden out in front of the cabin, had that for dinner. I’ll paint anywhere from six to 10 hours a day when I’m here. There’s so much light too. The cabin faces the water so there’s just light till 11 o’clock last night. It’s just so inspirational to be here, to paint,” she said.
Her first residency produced her series “Intertidal,” featuring Southeast waterscapes. Her new one is called “Out the Road, and in the Water.” For this series, she said, “I wanted to incorporate some humans and human features into the shoreline activities.”
She said she expects to have about 20 paintings done by the time she leaves. She is giving the public a chance to check out the cabin and her work during an open house on Saturday, June 16 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Part of being selected as an artist-in-residence is that the artist must donate one piece of art to Alaska State Parks and must have one community outreach activity for the public during or following their residency, explained Alaska State Parks Southeast Area superintendent Preston Kroes. For Hutchens-Jouppi, it just makes sense.
“I like to open it up to people,” she said. “The last time I had an open house here I had about 20 people. I met a man whose father was Gruening’s assistant in Washington D.C. So it’s very interesting. People are interested in the cabin but they never get to come in and see it and know the history behind this whole place, which is phenomenal so I like to have open houses with the art in it.”
There will be variety of artists at the Ernest Gruening cabin over the course of the summer, staying anywhere from five to 10 days, Kroes said. There will also be artists at the Butterfly Lake Cabin in the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area and the Halibut Cove Ranger Station at Kachemak Bay State Park as well. Those with questions about the residency are encouraged to reach out to Kroes at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Arts in the Park webpage: dnr.alaska.gov/parks/asp/artistinresidence.htm. The deadline for 2019 will likely be around mid-March, Kroes said.
“It’s hard to explain the majesty of this place… People come here for the first time and walk in here and just go ‘wow’ because I think it has the best view in Southeast Alaska across and up the channel,” Hutchens-Jouppi said.
• Clara Miller is the Capital City Weekly managing editor. She can be reached at email@example.com.