First Friday

Cabins, glass, windy knolls and dark powers

Posted: Thursday, May 06, 2004

Watercolor artist Asha Falcon spent part of her childhood in a log cabin in a small clearing between a circle of trees on Kodiak Island. She painted her first "house image" in 1990. Ever since, the iconic landscape of a home in a clearing has carried some sort of unconscious hold over her.

"I can't stop painting it," Falcon said. "I've always surrendered to it."

Falcon, who works with special needs children at Haborview Elementary, has been showing her art in Juneau since 1994. Her newest show, a collection of landscapes with cabins and scenes with loosely stylized guardian angels, opens at 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 7, at Rock Paper Scissors as part of the First Friday art walk.

Falcon's cabins are left minimal. They pop up on cliffs, fields and bays in imaginary Juneau landscapes, where she adds detail. The scenes are loose representations of real places, such as False Outer Point and the Kowee Meadow Cabin.

"The house image is kind of a metaphor for me and my childhood," Falcon said. "I decided I was going to try and explore that image as much as I could and take everything out of the picture, outside of the house and the mountain and the wood."

Falcon paints with watercolors in three or more layers. She adds colored pencil to create texture and light.

Her guardian angels seem to have personalities and dilemmas of their own, she said. One is drowning and falling out of the frame. Another is pouting. One lacks wings. One more is beckoning with a come-hither look. Another is guarding a house in a combination of her two icons.

"I wanted to paint the angels like they were little saints or little characters who have stories that people could invent," Falcon said. "I've just always really loved painting them. When I see the angel in front of the house, I know the angel is guarding over that childhood spirit."

• JUNEAU-DOUGLAS CITY MUSEUM: The City Museum, at Fourth and Main streets, will hold official receptions from 4:30-7 p.m. Friday, May 7, for two of its new exhibits, "Tlingit Reglia" and "Panoramic Photographs." Both exhibits are already open.

The Tlingit display will include regalia and some of the special containers the items are stored in. A few of the pieces are new masks from Michael and Richard Beasley. The show will also include a dentalia headdress, on loan through the Alaska State Museum, and a Chilkat eagle dancing bib, one of the first pieces woven by Anna Brown Ehlers.

"Panoramic Photos," currently on display in the video room, includes historical and contemporary images of Juneau, Douglas, Treadwell and the Mendenhall Glacier. Most of the photos are from the museum's collection.

• JUNEAU ARTS AND HUMANITIES COUNCIL: Nancy Karacand builds sparkly baskets and beadwork. Paul Kin-slow paints cold, barren snowscapes. Gene Harrison creates dark, neosurrealistic images that sometimes feature shaman-like beings.

The three artists don't necessarily complement each other, but maybe that's the idea behind "Beyond Words," the name of their shared show at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council during May. The display opens from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Friday, May 7.

"It's going to be quite the range," Karacand said.

Kinslow and Harrison have studios near each other. This is the first Juneau show for both. They were introduced to Karacand through JAHC.

She started working with jewelry while living in Haines in 1982 and branched off on her own work in 1985. Soon after, she began making coil baskets - yarn, thread and jute coiled around a cotton core. The baskets are small and mostly decorative, about five inches in diameter. Some have a goddess theme. "Aphrodite's Garden" is colorful with shimmery yarn and dangly beadwork along the outside. "Bone Goddess" includes a piece of caribou bone.

"What I like about the baskets is I can do them anywhere. I can do them when I'm going on a trip," Karacand said. "The beadwork and jewelry and silver work and other metal work is confined to my studio. Pulling beads out of containers doesn't lend itself to being on the road. The baskets I know what basic yarns I'm going to be working with."

Kinslow moved to Juneau three years ago from Barrow. He works for the state and hasn't held a show in town. He plans to show a dozen paintings, mostly representational landscapes and snowscapes.

"My paintings are pretty cold," he said. "Cold colors. Cold subject matter. Mountain scenes. I just paint ideas. I don't go out and copy what I see."

Harrison moved to Juneau four years ago from Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is his first show in town and will include four or five works. He began painting as a classical realist and has lately expanded into what he calls neosurrealism.

"It's right on the verge of being surrealistic," Harrison said. "I'll exaggerate the figure. I don't use any models. Everything is imagery. But it's also very realistic to some people."

His paintings include his own interpretations of shamans and shaman-like power. Three in particular usually provoke a response, he said. One of those features a shaman-like character with extra-long arms holding a hawk rattle and a raven skull.

"People either like them or think they're despicable," Harrison said. "They'll say, 'My god, what is he trying to do?' For me, that's interesting."

• EMPIRE GALLERY: Juneau artists Lisa Blacher and Nell McConahey usually organize two small shows a year - one in the fall and one in the spring - at one of their studios in the Arcticorp building near Fifth and Gold streets. This time, they've drafted Sherri McDonald and Sara Chatfield and come up with an elemental theme, "Paper, Metal, Glass, Clay" for the two-room Empire Gallery, near Second and Franklin streets.

McDonald will show hand-bound books, photo albums and journals, collages and new prints (paper). Chatfield will display lamp-worked glass (glass). McConahey will exhibit stained glass, mosaics and jewelry (glass and metal). Blacher will showcase new ceramic works (clay).

"Paper, Metal, Glass, Clay" runs for just two days, 4-8 p.m. Friday, May 7, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, May 8.

"(The title) just seems to work," McConahey said. "They're different mediums, and they just work well together."

McConahey shows year-round at the Juneau Artists Gallery and has been working with glass full-time for the last five years. She will show a few stained glass window panels, as well as mirrors with frames of found objects and stained glass. She hopes to include a 2 1/2-foot-tall end table with mosaic-worked glass pieces on top.

Blacher will have a few two-dimensional prints of her three-dimensional ceramic work. Atelier co-owner David Riccio ran the prints as part of an experiment.

"He was really curious about how they would look," Blacher said. "They look three-dimensional. I was pleasantly surprised. The quality is amazing."

• JUNEAU ARTISTS GALLERY: Watercolor painter Cindy Burchfield, the marketing director for the Alaskan Brewing Company, will be the featured artist at the Juneau Artists Gallery, 175 South Franklin in the Senate Building, in May.

Burchfield works out of her home studio, Lost in Alaska. She began painting as a child with her grandmother, Juli, a Southwestern oil painter, according to her Web site, Burchfield won her first museum showing in 1979. Under the direction of her college professor, Arni Anderson, she produced a portfolio of watercolors and sold many before graduation.

Burchfield has been working in marketing since 1986. She's completing an Alaska children's book, "Gimme Gimme Moocher Marmots." Some of her prints are available at her site.

• FRIENDLY PLANET: Juneau painter Rick Clair will show a selection of his new works in the Friendly Planet loft space, at the corner of Second and Seward streets.

Late last year, Clair showed a collection of fantasy landscapes at Rock Paper Scissors and the Empire Gallery. He was also part of the February "Eros & Art" show at the Empire. Some of his latest paintings are inspired by a road trip he took down the Eastern seaboard and into the Smoky Mountains.

• ANNIE KAILL'S: You may remember Constance Baltuck Hartle's solo show, "Recent Paintings, " in December at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council gallery. That was her first major exhibition with acrylics in 20 years as a painter.

She's back with 12 new works, mostly winter-scapes completed in February. The show opens at 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 7, at Annie Kaill's, 244 Front Street. It includes scenes from her backyard, Amalga Harbor, out the road, a storm over the channel as seen from the Western Auto parking lot and a vista she captured near Eagle River while working with the Plein Rein painters.

"The one of Eagle River came out pretty nice," Baltuck Hartle said. "It was a pretty day with a blue sky, and the sun was shining unexpectedly. I think it captured the feelings of the blue end of the mountain in the distance, and the big, cold bright space."

"Then there are these little things in my neighborhood that I've always wanted to do, like the birdhouses in my neighbor's trees," she said. "I got a chance to do that."

Another work captures a clump of wind-blown spruce on a knoll near the corner of Fourth and Gold streets. Baltuck Hartle passes the spot on weekday mornings when she takes her kids to Juneau Charter School.

"I come around the corner, and there's this beautiful scene," she said. "It's always a little different depending on whether it's raining or snowing or sunny out. I think I captured it on a windy, snowy day. It's always a pleasure when things fall into place."

• Korry Keeker can be reached at

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