Best Bets: A weekend of sharks and art you can wear

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2002

A sharkfest hits the Nugget Mall on Sunday afternoon. Hearthside Books is hosting a slide presentation and booksigning by Ray Troll, a shark artist and powerhouse of infectious enthusiasm.

The Ketchikan author and artist is well known for his T-shirts and cards featuring fish, Alaskana, ocean and science themes. He's a talented painter with fine art in museums and galleries. He's also a serious student of science and has invested considerable research into his latest project - sharks.

"Sharks are just eternally fascinating to folks," Troll said. "It's a topic that was a natural progression for me. Sharks are the showmen of the fish world."

Troll has written and illustrated a new book, "Sharkabet: A Sea of Sharks from A to Z." On the surface it's a picture book for young children, but it's loaded with enough details and additional information to fascinate older kids and adults. It's full of science - and the distinctive Troll humor.

Troll will talk about Alaska sharks and prehistoric and modern sharks from around the world, and will show slides featuring the art from "Sharkabet." The presentation will run from 1 to 3 Sunday afternoon at Hearthside Books in the Nugget Mall and it's free.

Another free science presentation this week is "Tracking Caribou by Satellite," with biologist Brad Griffith, at 7:30 p.m. Monday in Centennial Hall. This is the last in the four-part series sponsored by the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation. These have been consistently good presentations. Caribou aren't as glamorous as sharks but they're still pretty cool.

Friday night, ANB Hall will become a giant art gallery for a dynamic display of wearable art. Models will show off creations by more than 30 artists from Juneau and Ketchikan at "Going to Extremes: Wearable Art Extravaganza." The runway show is followed by a dance.

The Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council has celebrated wearable art for more than a decade with an annual show that is famous on the Alaska arts scene. Sybil Davis of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council was intrigued with the idea of starting a similar all-ages event here as an annual benefit for the arts council's scholarship program. Last year, with the help of the Ketchikan artists and the Juneau arts and theater community, Davis launched the first show.

I expected two or three dozen costumes, a blend of Halloween and Mardi Gras outfits. There was a bit of that, and they were very good. But a number of people displayed amazing talent and imagination in their creations, which far surpassed costumes. The event was a success. The mix of ages, the experimental feel of a new event and the variety of art made for a fun evening.

The arts council has built on last year's show and will open the 2002 wearable art extravaganza at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall. Joel Bergsbaken will DJ the dance.

For a different style of dancing, Shane Wirtz is leading an evening of ballroom, mambo and tango dance Friday night in the ballroom of the Elk's Lodge. Wirtz will offer tango lessons from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., followed by two hours of social dancing featuring music for tangos, meringue and fox-trots. Wirtz has been teaching ballroom dance at the University of Alaska Southeast this year, and his classes have been a hit. He's building on what seems to be a wave of interest and is bringing the dancing from Auke Bay to downtown.

If you want to watch dancing, "Kiss Me Kate" opens this weekend at Juneau-Douglas High School. It's loaded with dance numbers, songs, live music and comedy. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and it runs next weekend as well.

Comedians Jeff Capri and Dan Grueter perform Friday night at Marlintini's Lounge. Either Capri or Grueter could headline a comedy show as a solo act, and the night promises a good double-header from seasoned pros. Both comedians have been on the television comedy circuit, appearing on "An Evening at the Improv" and shows such as "Friday Night," "Comic View" and "The Late Show with Craig Kilborn."

Marlintini's has been working with Jerry Evans of Fairbanks to bring comedians to Alaska this past year, in a series Evans calls the Northwest Comedy Showcase. Eight or 10 comedians have performed at Marlintini's this fall and winter, and reviews have been consistently good.

The show starts at 8:30 p.m. Friday. The four-piece rock band Q.E.D. from Alberta will follow the comedy. Q.E.D. has out two CDs of original songs, and it plays a mix of mostly contemporary rock, with some classic rock and dance music thrown in. The band will be here through March, playing weekends at Marlintini's.

Riley Woodford can be reached at

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