Kate Boesser: Taking knife to stone and wood

Arts profile

Posted: Thursday, May 11, 2000

Prints to soapstone: Carver Kate Boesser, 46, started her career as an artist in the 1970s making wood block prints. In the 1980s she shifted to creating painted relief wood carvings, and for the past 10 years she's focused on carving soapstone. She's also done etching and engraving.

Boesser has an art show opening tonight at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council gallery featuring a mix of her work from the past three decades. Boesser will be at the reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Remove the negative: Boesser grew up in downtown Juneau and graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1971. Her dad is a carver and he gave her his carving tools when she was in junior high school.

``There was a great teacher at Marie Drake when it first opened who really influenced me, Brian Grove,'' she said.

When she returned to Juneau after college she took a three-day workshop in woodblock printmaking taught by artist Dale DeArmond at the Alaska State Museum. She said the accomplished artist made it seem simple and accessible.

``I knew after that, that's what I wanted to do,'' she said. ``It's not a complicated art form. You draw on (wood) and start carving. Just find the positive and the negative, and remove the negative.''

She said artists Rie Munoz and Virginia Eggert were family friends and served as positive role models when she was growing up.

``They were working, raising kids and doing art, and it was all equally important. And that's what I wanted to do,'' she said.

Boesser has two kids, ages 20 and 15. She taught for eight years at the Gustavus school and now is a grant administrator for youth activities in Gustavus. She's a Glacier Bay park ranger in the summer.

Alphabet birds: As a professional artist, Boesser has been commissioned to create and install artwork in public places. She carved a set of alphabet birds, with birds as letters, for the Mendenhall River School library, and a large 4- by 7-foot carved wooden panel of birds at Harborview Elementary School. Six of her carvings of birds and animals are also in the Douglas Public Library.

Rideable wooden pony:Boesser lives in Gustavus, where she keeps horses. About a year ago, she wanted to carve a horse in soapstone and found a model in a book on Victorian-era rocking horses. Instead of soapstone, she decided to use cedar, birch and fir, and the result is a large rideable Victorian rocking horse.

``My nephew Benjamin is sharing it with me, and he's going to get it after the show,'' she said. ``My next hope is to carve a carousel horse, full size, with pole and all.''

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