Overflowing with art

Juneau hosts annual four-day Southeast Arts Fest for first time

Posted: Thursday, April 12, 2007

Juneau-Douglas High School is overflowing with sketch pads this week, as 140 students from all over the panhandle have converged for the annual four-day Southeast Arts Fest.

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The festival includes four days of intensive art workshops, culminating with a show and reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday in the high school commons.

The participating schools are Juneau, Petersburg, Wrangell, Sitka, Ketchikan, Craig, Kake, Klawock, Mount Edgecumbe and Skagway. This is the first time Juneau has hosted the festival.

Kirk Garbisch, a Wrangell High School art tea-cher, organized the first Southeast Arts Fest nearly 10 years ago.

"He wanted to expand the opportunities for his own students, and he was well aware of the fact that the villages may not have an art teacher at all," JDHS art teacher Tom Manning said. "From the beginning, it was modeled after the Music Fest notion of an intensive workshop. But it's also an awesome way for kids to get to know other kids in Southeast and pull the community together."

The art on display in Friday's show includes pieces made during the festival, and work that the students brought with them. Awards will be handed out for best of show, best of pieces brought, best of each class and a special Garbisch Award.

The students were chosen by a selection process at each school. Most of them are staying with Juneau families.

"The kids are serious about art, and not just kids that wanted to go to the big city," Manning said.

Each student was allowed to pick two areas of study over the four days. Classes are being taught each day from 10 a.m. to noon, 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. Each workshop includes 15 hours of instruction over the four days.

The workshops include stained glass; halibut-hook carving; calligraphy; semi-abstract figure painting; fiber arts; printmaking; quilting; mosaics; Raku ceramics; pastel portraits; glass fusing and wire wrapping; moccasin-making; book art and dry-point etching; and knitting.

About 10 kids are also learning how to make videos in the catacombs of the state Capitol. Andy Mills and Jason Bluhm, both 1998 graduates of JDHS and now videographers for the state, are teaching the workshop.

"We're basically sending them out with video cameras to make 60- to 90-second commercials, just to demonstrate how you shoot video, what composition should be and how you edit it together," Mills said.

Mills attended an Arts Fest in Wrangell as a JDHS students, and took courses in stained-glass making, character-drawing animation and silver-smithing.

"There are a lot of really great traditional art classes available, and I know when we went to high school here we were really interested in animation, claymation, anything like that," Mills said.

• Korry Keeker can be reached at korry.keeker@juneauempire.com.

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