David R. Boxley wins 'Best of Show' in Celebration art competition

Sealaska Heritage Institute's Northwest Coast Juried Art Show "Art and At.óow" opened Wednesday

Loud cheers and applause erupted from the audience in the Walter Soboleff Building’s clan house as David R. Boxley was awarded Best of Show, the top prize in Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Northwest Coast Juried Art Show, Wednesday afternoon.


“I’m totally blown away by this,” Boxley said. “I have worked for a very long time to understand formline. I believe that it is the most beautiful thing in the world. I’ve still got paint on my arm from new formline that I was making just last night to get ready to dance today.”

Boxley thanked SHI and complimented all the 22 artists who entered the 36 pieces in the juried art show.

“You put your own ego and your passion out there for everyone to see, and it’s not always an easy thing to do. I know there are better things for me to say, but I’m very flustered,” said Boxley, who didn’t linger too long at the award ceremony. As part of Celebration’s lead dance group, Git Hoan, Boxley had to get ready for the grand entrance processional.

His piece “Txaamsem” — an acrylic formline painting on a deer hide drum — also received the Best of Formline, the Painting & Drawing prize in the Two Dimensional Art Division and the Best of Division prize. His awards totaled $3,000.

This was SHI’s eighth time doing the biennial art show. The jurors were Stephen P. Jackson, Nicholas Galanin and weaving/sewing consultant Shgen Doo Tan Robyn Kay George.

[Celebration's lead dance group has some surprises up its sleeve.]

Boxley’s work and all the other juried art pieces can be viewed at the Nathan Jackson Gallery in the Walter Soboleff Building through Sept. 30. The show also includes Exemplary Works by David A. Boxley, Delores Churchill, Robert Davidson, Nathan Jackson and Preston Singletary.

New to Celebration was the Juried Youth Art Exhibit and competition, which is on display at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center through June 30.

“When I saw them putting it up, I almost started crying. It is just so awesome,” SHI President Rosita Worl said.

At the awards ceremony, she commended the Southeast communities of Metlakatla and Ketchikan for doing an exemplary job teaching kids about Northwest Coast art.

“We have got to replicate that in all of our communities. That’s one of our goals is to be integrating our art into the schools, so that our children can be learning that art and the non-Native children can also be learning an appreciation for that art,” Worl said.

Lance X’unei Twitchell was the juror for the youth show, and top prizes went to first and second place for work done by middle school students and first through third place for high school.

A piece made by 61 sixth-grade Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School students took first place. “Warrior armor and helmet” was led by art teacher Miah Lager, who was at the award ceremony and accepted on behalf of the students.

“As a white woman trying to teach Northwest Coast art, I’m always trying to really make sure I’m doing the right thing and doing things respectfully, and I want the kids to have a rich experience,” Lager said after the ceremony.

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She said she consulted extensively with Dzantik’i Heeni’s cultural specialist Ruby Hughs, SHI publications on formline and recalled teachings by visiting cultural specialists.

The 61 Dzantik’i Heeni students, as well as all the other students whose work made it into the show, will get a T-shirt, and the winners received a print of the Celebration logo designed by Boxley.

Cash prizes also went to the schools or the organization of the winning pieces. Dzantik’i Heeni will get a $350 stipend, and Lager said she’s “dreaming about teaching cedar bark baskets” with the funds. She took a class with Delores Churchill several years ago.

• Contact reporter Lisa Phu at 523-2246 or lisa.phu@juneauempire.com

Here’s the complete list of winners for the Northwest Coast Juried Art Show:

Carving and Sculpture Division

Wood: Art (Bugs) Nelson, “Raven Mask”

Metal: Jennifer Younger, “Hungry Sea Lion”

Best of Division: Jennifer Younger, “Hungry Sea Lion”


Skin and Fur: Jennie Wheeler, “Sea Otter Coat”

Beadwork: Kandi McGilton, “Lax’o”

Other: Clarissa Rizal, “Northwest by Southwest”

Best of Division: Kandi McGilton, “Lax’o”


Chilkat: Clarissa Rizal, “Chilkat Child”

Ravenstail: Tiffany Vanderhoop, “Ravenstail Apron”

Basketry: Merle Andersen, “Clam Basket”

Best of Division: Clarissa Rizal, “Chilkat Child”

Two Dimensional Art

Painting and Drawing: David R. Boxley, “Txaamsem”

Print: Alison Bremner, “Cat Lady”

Best of Division: David R. Boxley, “Txaamsem”

Formline Awards

First: David R. Boxley, “Txaamsem”

Second: Alison Bremner, “Cat Lady”

Best of Show

David R. Boxley, “Txaamsem”

Here’s a list of winners for the Juried Youth Art Exhibit:

Middle School Art

First: 61 sixth grade students from Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School in Juneau, “Warrior armor and helmet”

Second: Tessa Williams of Gustavus, “The Fox”

High School Art

First: Jeanette Kaleikau-Buxton of Metlakatla, “Txaamsem and the Steelhead Salmon”

Second: Sky McInturff of Ketchikan, “Snail’s Trail”

Third: Faithe Gray of Metlakatla, “Story of my Family”


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