Program brings art to Kodiak Courthouse

In this Dec. 28, 2012 photo, "An Original Tune" by Denis Keogh, is displayed outside courtroom B at the Kodiak Courthouse, in Kodiak, Alaska. The Kodiak courthouse has added new artwork in an effort to make people's visit to the courthouse less stressful. (AP Photo/Kodiak Daily Mirror, Nicole Klauss)

KODIAK — The Kodiak courthouse has added new artwork in an effort to make people’s visit to the courthouse less stressful.


Law clerk M’Leah Woodard is responsible for the recent additions. Woodard started working in Kodiak as the clerk for Judge Steve Cole in August. Shortly after arriving, she undertook a project to bring more art to the courthouse.

“When I arrived in August, all of the walls in the courthouse were white, and there was not a lot of art here,” Woodard said. “Coming into court is sometimes the most stressful experience in people’s lives. Often people are going through tough times for one reason or the other. I figured some art would soften the place a bit.”

In September, Woodard learned about the Alaska Contemporary Art Bank, which loans art to state agencies that can display it in a public place. The ACAB, founded by the Alaska State Council on the Arts, works to expose Alaskans to work from contemporary Alaskan artists.

Woodard researched the program, ordered artwork, and received the two pieces a couple weeks ago. The only cost for borrowing the pieces was shipping.

Woodard’s plan was to add colorful pieces to the courthouse, but she didn’t receive exactly what she was hoping for. The artwork was not available for viewing online prior to ordering it. Instead, Woodard had to describe what type of artwork she was looking for, and the ACAB sent it to her.

“They picked the art and sent it to us,” she said. “I think some people are scratching their heads, but everybody is delighted that something is on the wall.”

The “Restoration Blanket II” by Sheryl Maree Reily is a mostly white sheet-like piece of art, made of plastic, floss and beads. It is displayed in Cole’s courtroom.

The second piece, “An Original Tune” by Denis Keogh, is a watercolor print that uses color, but is smaller than Woodard was hoping for. It is displayed just outside of courtroom B.

“We’ll keep these a couple years and see how it goes,” Woodard said.

The courthouse can keep the two pieces for up to two years before returning them to the ACAB to swap out with different ones. Woodard said by the time the two-year period is up, every piece of art will be listed online so next time they will be able to view and pick the pieces they want.

Plans to feature local artwork from students at Kodiak High School are also in the works.

“I’m super excited for that because the student art is Kodiak art,” Woodard said.


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