Best Bets: Celebration adds art to music, dancing

Posted: Thursday, June 06, 2002

Celebration 2002 offers three days of dancing, art, singing and spectacle in celebration of Native culture.

Dance groups are primarily from Southeast Alaska, but groups also are coming to Juneau this weekend from Hawaii, Canada, Anchorage, Kodiak and Washington state.

Performances will be from about 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, June 6 through 8, at Centennial Hall and ANB Hall. Most groups will perform several times throughout the weekend. Admission for one day is $10, or $5 for students and seniors. Children under 8 get in free. Three-day passes are available.

The big parade begins on South Franklin Street about 8:30 a.m. Saturday. There will be dancing at Marine Park on Friday evening to launch the first of Juneau's annual summer Concerts in the Park series. At noon Friday dancers from Ketchikan and Hawaii will perform at the State Office Building atrium, where they'll be joined by athletes from the Yukon demonstrating traditional stick games.

There's also a Native arts and crafts fair at National Guard Armory 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission is free.

For a different exhibit of visual arts, check out "The Town is Changing: New Paintings by Jane Terzis," opening Friday, June 7, at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council gallery.

Juneau artist Terzis has been painting most of her life. Although her work with oil paint is masterful, her work with people is exceptional. Terzis has a talent for capturing something fundamental and essential about humans in her portraits.

At first glance you might see a collection of portraits of people you don't know. But look harder, at the eyes and hands and the cock of the head and the background. A strange familiarity creeps in. These could be neighborhood kids, nieces, shopkeepers or friendly characters you met on your last vacation. Some paintings are oddly reminiscent of something even closer - your own family, or that old picture of yourself as a kid.

Terzis' collection of recent oil-on-masonite portraits will be displayed through the end of the month; the arts council is open weekday afternoons. There's an opening reception from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Friday.

In another art exhibit well worth seeing, the Alaska State Museum is hosting the Sealaska Juried Art Show this summer, a collection of 18 pieces by Tlingit, Tsimshian and Haida artists. This is the first fine-art show in what Sealaska and the museum hope can become a regular part of Celebration. Some pieces are traditional, others are rooted in tradition but have distinctly contemporary elements. The design and execution of all the work is outstanding.

Inupiat ivory carver Charles Pullock is another reason to stop by the state museum. Pullock is coming to Juneau from his home in Nome and will demonstrate carving next week in the galleries at the Alaska State Museum. Pullock will be at the museum from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily from June 11 through June 15.

Pullock focuses mostly on carving small (about 6-inch) ivory figures of animals. I've seen a picture of one piece, beautifully depicting a pod of whales. He's open to questions, and folks can watch him at work.

The Sitka Summer Music Festival begins Friday, June 7, and runs through June 28. Lovers of classical and chamber music will not be disappointed. The festival features 13 concerts, mostly on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights.

June is an excellent time to spend a weekend in Sitka. Be sure to call ahead - there's rarely trouble getting concert tickets, but lodging can be tight. If you have friends in Sitka, this is the time to visit.

I've been to the festival and had a great time. It draws music lovers from all over Alaska and musicians from all over the world. The music is top-notch but the atmosphere is relaxed. Many of the players have been friends for decades and some have been coming to Sitka for much of the festival's 31-year history. For more information, call 747-6774 or see

Rory Merritt Stitt performs at 8 p.m. Friday, June 7, in the Back Room at the Silverbow Inn. Stitt, a singer, songwriter and pianist, grew up in Juneau and left a couple of years ago to pursue a music career.

I met him five or six years ago, when he was still in high school. As a young teen, Stitt already was a talented pianist and visual artist, and by his mid-teens he'd become a soulful singer as well. He began acting and performed in several Perseverance Theatre plays, including "Angels in America," "The Rocky Horror Show" and "Romeo and Juliet." By his early 20s he added songwriting to his repertoire and recorded a CD of original songs.

He's back for a visit, and the concert Friday will be a good opportunity to hear his songs and see this charismatic performer in action. This will likely fill up, so come early. Admission is $10.

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