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CELEBRATION: Juried art show results to be announced today

Exhibit to be divided into traditional, contemporary art categories at Sealaska

Posted: Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The seven winners of the Sealaska Juried Art Show and Competition will be announced today during a public reception from 5-6:30 p.m. in the foyer of the Sealaska Plaza.

The show will be displayed in the Sealaska lobby from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays through July 2 and this Saturday. The display will include 28 pieces from 14 artists. Entrants were allowed to submit up to five pieces.

The exhibit will be divided into traditional and contemporary art categories. Items include bentwood boxes, masks, Chilkat blankets, button blankets, beadwork, baskets, basketry hats, contemporary paintings, glasswork, drums, rattles and bowls. Most of the pieces are for sale.

The prizes include best of show ($1,500) and first through third-place ($1,000, $750 and $500) for traditional and contemporary art.

"The show is meant to encourage artists and to stimulate the quality and enhance the quality of artwork," said Kathy Miller of Sealaska Heritage. "With some of the pieces, it's hard to decide if they're traditional or contemporary. An artist like Preston Singletary does very traditional forms in glass, so that's considered contemporary even though he does traditional things."

Former Juneau resident Clarissa Hudson, now a resident of Pagosa Springs, Colo., was the best of show winner at Celebration 2002, with a women's woven outfit. She has entered again this year.

Many of the winning artists are expected to attend today's reception. The prizes have already been selected by Native artist Robert Davidson and Aldona Jonaitis, the director of the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks.

"There were more pieces that exhibited the fine craftsmanship one expects from high-quality Northwest Coast art, and the works reflected a deeper understanding of the form line system," Jonaitis said in a Sealaska press release. "I'm very optimistic about the development of Native art in Southeast Alaska."

Jonaitis will present a lecture, "New Visions: Experiments in Contemporary Northwest Coast Native Art," at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Centennial Hall theater. Davidson will review the Juried Art show in a presentation at 10 a.m. Friday at Centennial Hall.

Seattle glassblower and Tlingit artist Preston Singletary will discuss the ways in which Native artists have explored the medium of glass in "Indian-uity: Glass Symbols of Cultural Knowledge," at 3 p.m. Thursday, June 3, at Mt. Roberts Tramway theater.

"It's sort of an overview of Native Americans working in glass," Singletary said. "A lot of different Native people have worked with hot glass and do their own fabrication or they work with other mediums and work with glass."

Singletary, an Alaska Native Tlingit, has been working with glass since 1982. He got a job in a factory making small gift items. In 1984, he went to the Pilchuck Glass School, north of Seattle, and began working with glass artisans from around the world.

Singletary was part of the group in Haines that teamed with the Pilchuck school on a multi-medium carved red cedar pole in 2002. He will talk about that experience in his lecture.

"What I try to showcase is the perspective that Native people bring to their artwork with the medium of glass," Singletary said. "Why are we working with glass? What does it bring to the particular piece? I'm presenting people's work and talking about what it means to them. With that, I include my own artwork."

"I began exploring the potential of developing Native designs for my own personal expression through casting or actually carving into the glass with a sandblasting machine," Singletary said.

Over the past eight years, Singletary has been supporting himself from his work. His name often crops up in Native art magazines.

Lately, he's been working on more figurative pieces. A recent killer whale sculpture is blown glass, constructed piece by piece with carved designs in the sandblasting process. He also has a raven sculpture in the "Fusing Traditions" show at the Alaska State Museum.

"Glass has such a luminous quality to it," Singletary said. "There's a lot of trial and error, but a successful piece can certainly have a very compelling impact.

"When the Europeans brought trade beads to the country, glass was quickly incorporated into ornamentation on clothing and objects. Now we're sort of using glass in more progressive ways and interpreting our stories and objects with this new medium. It shows that Native culture is a living and developing culture. It's not stuck in an anthropological corral."

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



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