First Friday artist gets rowdy with ravens

Posted: Thursday, April 03, 2008

In Evon Zerbetz's new exhibit opening at the Alaska State Museum, the Ketchikan artist presents a number of whimsical questions about ravens, including whether they prefer cheese puffs, potato chips or French fries.

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Photo Of Evon Zerbetz By Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire
Photo Of Evon Zerbetz By Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire

"It's a lot more than art," she said. "It's sort of a meeting of arts and science. That's always been one of my appeals in my artwork, is to use it as a means to answer some of my questions that I see when out hiking and what not."

An opening of "RAUCOUS! Everything Raven" will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Friday, April 4 at the museum. The "multi-faceted art and science" exhibition is the state museum's major exhibition for the summer season and will be on display until October.

Zerbetz said the silhouettes of ravens have fascinated her for nearly two decades, since she first began using the birds for her signature-style linocut prints.

"After watching the birds for a number of years I just sort of got intrigued in trying to cut a whole series of works that told the natural history of the raven," she said.

In 1995 she created a 12-part linocut series titled "Stations of the Raven" that explored the behaviors of one of the world's smartest birds.

"That kicked off my real interest in researching the birds because I always see little behaviors and wonder what they're up to and then I go and research and find what that might be," Zerbetz said.

Her curiosity in ravens continued, and in 2005 Zerbetz teamed up with author Susan Ewing to illustrate the children's book "Ten Rowdy Ravens" that included 26 more raven linocuts. Zerbetz has taken research a step further by creating an exhibit that combines her artistic sensibilities and her scientific curiosity in a family friendly way.

"It's illustrated with sort of a wacky science experiment that went awry," she said, adding that some teachers now use the experiment as a way to engage children in the scientific method.

The exhibit includes her colorful artwork, of course, but it also presents a variety of interactive elements, from a raven board game to a 4-foot ravens nest.

"It gives a lot of information with a lot of visuals as well," Zerbetz said.

There is also a wall dedicated to ten famous ravens across the globe, from Bhutan to the Northwest Coast.

"Raven is so pervasive in mythology around the world - far beyond our neighborhood," she said.

Zerbetz said "RAUCOUS! Everything Raven" has previously been on display at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History in Albuquerque, N.M., as well as the Ketchikan Museum, but said the display at the Alaska State Museum is unique.

"Each show I try to add something new, and each show takes on its own personality," she said.

The Alaska State Museum will hold a "Raven Activity Afternoon" on Saturday, April 5 from 12 to 3 p.m. for families with elementary-age children as part of the opening of the exhibit. Activities include raven pennant block printing, raven fact art cards, making raven headdresses and participating in a raven scavenger hunt, among other things.

Zerbetz said the exhibit is not your typical art exhibit.

"There are a lot of dimensional elements rather than just artwork," she said.

Artistic endeavors

Juneau Arts & Culture Center, 350 Whittier St.: Selected works in drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, photography and Northwest Coast art will be on display from 4:30 to 7 p.m. during the 6th Annual University of Alaska Southeast Student Juried Art Exhibition hosted by the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council. The exhibit runs through April 23 at the arts council gallery. Most works will be for sale.

Jim Fowler, a longtime Juneau resident and an accomplished painter, illustrator and printmaker, is this year's guest juror. On display will be "Wolf Mask" by Lucia Nascimento, selected as "Best of Show," as well as works selected as "Honorable Mentions," which include "Caught by Surprise" by Katerina Kuntz-Tadda; "Meditation/Sunset" by Mischelle Pennoyer; "Red Lidded Jar" by Kathy Washburn; and "By Thy Words," "Judas Cow" and "Forsaken" by Callie Bellon.

Juneau Artists Gallery, 175 Franklin St.: Jackie and Keith Garnick of Lighthouse Glass, the newest members of the Juneau Artists Gallery, will present "A Kaleidoscope of Stained Glass Creations," from 4:30 to 7 p.m. The artists, who have been working together on stained glass for more than a decade, will be on hand to discuss their work, which they describe as "usable art." The Garnicks specialize in kaleidoscopes but also create nightlights, candleholders, jewelry boxes and sun catchers, as well as ornaments, many of which feature motifs of angels or fish.

KTOO Studios, 360 Egan Drive: The opening of the Alaska Photographic Arts Association Spring 2008 Members' Exhibit and a reception will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. The APAA, a diverse mix of more than 120 professional and amateur photographers, formed in 2000 and hosts a variety of meetings and workshops throughout the year. Participating in this spring's exhibit are Bob Armstrong, Jeff Brown, Matthew Brown, Lia Denae, Buddy Ferguson, Shar Fox, Donald Hale, Toby Harbanuk, Marilyn Holmes, Pat Kalbaugh, Brent Keeney, Iris Korhonen-Penn, Merrill Lowden, Joe McCabe and Patrick McGonegal.

The Canvas Community Art Studio & Gallery, 223 Seward St.: Works in progress from Nicole Bauberger's exhibit "100 Dresses for Juneau: Encaustic Paintings" will be on display from 4:30 to 7 p.m. The project, consisting of 100 pieces art, is expected to be completed for a "100 Dress Completion Party" from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Friday, April 11. Bauberger will host a variety of classes involving the exhibit. For details visit

Hearthside Books, downtown: Author Douglas A. Letch will be signing copies of his latest book. "The Stir of Ashes," from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the downtown bookstore. The book follows in the steps of his previous book "Bitter Cold" and once again catches up with protagonist and former Coast-Guard-officer-turned-Kodiak-attorney Hayden White. Letch, originally from the Boston area, lives and works in Kodiak and Juneau.

Doc Water's, Merchants Wharf: Brent Keeney, a local photographer and goldsmith, will be displaying his color photos of Juneau and the surrounding area from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday. There will also be a $5 beer tasting hosted by Specialty Imports.

Ruby Room, Emporium Mall: Works from a juried art show open to artists who have attended the Ruby Room's Tuesday drawing sessions will be displayed from 4:30 to 7 p.m. The show will include works by James Voelckers, Teri Robus, Barbara Craver and Honalee Elkan.

Annie Kaill's, 244 Front St.: Sara Lee will present her felted fiber art from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Friday at the downtown gallery.

Juneau-Douglas City Museum, Fourth and Main streets: "Art of Salmon Flies" features art by Trevor Gong from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday. The exhibit runs through April 26.

Back Room at the Silverbow Inn: There will be two exhibits at the Back Room: "The HEART of Bristol Bay: Photographs from our RED Gold," featuring photos by Lauren E. Oakes and Ben Knight; and images from the Tongass Photo Contest.

The Creating Place, 226 Seward St.: The Craft Addicts, a small community of youthful crafters and friends creating traditional crafts with a contemporary twist, will exhibit a variety of wares from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Cupcakes will be available at the opening. The exhibit will include vintage fabric aprons, quilted cup cozies and recycled fabric totes and bags by Tanna Peters; "felt creations" and bird prints by Lucy Daigle; handmade pocket cards, jewelry boxes and desk sets by Maggie Frank; and greeting cards by Yquem Hurley. The work will be on display through May.

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