Assembly awards funds for art mobile at JDHS

Henrikson and Criswell will create 'Berners Bay Ballet' for the school's entrance atrium

Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Juneau artists Steve Henrikson and Jan Criswell created a giant mobile for Craig High School in 2000 and they hope the experience helps them over the next year in Juneau.

The couple's latest visionary mobile, "Berners Bay Ballet," was the top-ranked project in May out of 15 proposals for the 1 percent-for-art set-aside in Juneau-Douglas High School's renovation. On Monday, the Juneau Assembly approved spending $100,000 on the piece, with the hopes that it will be installed in the school's atrium in the spring of 2006.

"We just thought it would be real interesting to use that space - it's just a huge volume of enclosed space," Henrikson said. "(The mobile in Craig) turned out to be pretty successful and people in the community seemed to like it. We thought this would be a good way to do something a little closer to home."

"Berners Bay Ballet" will attempt to represent the interplay between the herring and sea lions that happens in the bay in the spring and summer. The mobile will include 300 to 400 herring made out of lightweight cast paper and painted in iridescent silver and blue to reflect light. As air curves through the atrium, the position of the herring will shift. Surrounding the fish, a number of sea lions will attempt to rein in dinner.

Henrikson and Criswell plan to create the herring and sea lions in the Northwest Coast form-line style.

"It's always intrigued us how when you see an underwater film of a big school of fish they're all individuals but they move as if they're one creature," Henrikson said. "When sea lions go after them, this big cloud of fish takes this interesting shape as they move around and try to escape.

"We wanted to create an artwork that represents this very special happening that's very close to Juneau," he said.

The mobile will hang from the trusses in the atrium's ceiling, about 40 feet from the floor. It will run from the front doors, facing Glacier Avenue, to about halfway down the atrium. The animals will dangle 15 to 25 feet from the floor.

"There are a lot of things that have to happen as far as how the individual piece will be hung, and of course there are certain amounts of balance that you have to take into consideration if you want it to be able to move," Henrikson said.

The city still has $60,000 to spend on art for the school's renovation. The next round of requests for proposals will begin in the fall.

• Korry Keeker can be reached at

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