First Friday mixes fibers, oil, blue clay and dead salmon

Posted: Friday, July 11, 2003

Juneau fiber artist Ellen Anderson admits she might be "doomed to detail."

She spent 195 hours perfecting her painted silk, stitch and net representation of a winter low tide at Eagle Beach. The piece is one of five new works she plans to show at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council gallery's latest First Friday opening, 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, July 11, at 206 North Franklin St.

She will share the space with Alaska Blue Clay Studio - a ceramics and pottery collaboration involving three Juneau households.

"I keep my camera with me all the time, and I take photos of things that interest me," said Anderson, a semi-retired botanist with the U.S. Forest Service. "Maybe it's a color combination or the way lights hit leaves or texture. A lot of times, I start out with the idea that it's going to be a fairly loose piece with a collage effect, and I end up putting a lot more detail into it."

Anderson works with fabrics and thread, dying white silks for her own color combinations and exploring overlays of sheer materials. Some of her pieces are large wall hangings. Others, such as her "Rock Steady 1," measure 2 inches by 2 inches. That work, a complex system of needlepoint and French knots, took 70 hours.

Anderson has worked with needlework for most of her life. She started dabbling with fiber arts in 1995 after beginning a three-year design and embroidery course offered by City and Guilds of London Art School on Whidbey Island in Washington state.

Architect Paul Voelckers and his son, James, had a ceramics and pottery show last summer at JAHC. They're back this year as part of Alaska Blue Clay Studio. The group includes the Voelckers family (Paul, James, Matt and Mary Pat Wyatt), the Twelker family (Karl, Evan, Eric and JaneAnn) and Cristine Crooks and Dean Guaneli.

"One thing that will be interesting in this show is the fair bit of collaborative and cross work," Paul Voelckers said.

The show will include flatwork, wall hangings, plates, platters, bowls, vases, a fish mosaic from Matt Voelckers and four sculptured "coffee birds" developed by Wyatt, former full-time curator of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. All the pieces have been created in the past six months and are high-temperature stoneware and porcelain, fired in gas kilns.

"What I've really been playing around with is the carving of the pieces, trying to emphasize form or the line in them," said James Voelckers, 20, a studio art major at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash. "On some of them, I'd be trimming and make an accidental mark, and it would look all right. In some of them, I had a preconceived notion. In others, I sort of winged it."

Other First Friday exhibits include:

• Sean Fansler: Northern Keta Caviar co-owner Sean Fansler's life revolves around salmon. He fishes for them, eats them, sells them and even paints them when they wash up dead on Juneau mudflats.

Fansler, 36, an oil painter since high school and the co-owner of Northern Keta since he was 24, will have his first Juneau show from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, July 11, at Rock Paper Scissors, 245 Marine Way. The exhibition will include 12 to 15 paintings - two acrylics and an assortment of oils.

Fansler, an avid sport fishermen, splits time between Seattle, where he's finishing up his bachelor's degree in fine arts at the University of Washington. He's had one solo show in Seattle.

"It has quite a bit to do with thinking about disintegration and returning back to the organic," Fansler said of his show. "These fish have reached the end. Now they're transitioning into being nutrients for the next generation."

Fansler paints landscapes and still lifes from observation. He occasionally uses photographs as starting points, but more often paints from memory.

"They're fairly realistic," Fansler said of his work. "It's just that within nature there's quite a bit of room to play. A good portion of it is me trying to find some common ground between my life here and my life in Seattle."

• Jim Fowler: Juneau artist Jim Fowler will show about a dozen of his new plein air landscapes - landscapes painted on-site in the open air - from Juneau, the Yukon and Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. The show opens from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 11, at Valentine's Coffee House, 111 Seward St.

Local musician Rob Cohen will play keyboard music from 6 to 9 p.m.

Fowler, 55, a Juneau resident since 1973, has illustrated 12 children's books, six by his wife, Susi Gregg Fowler. He also teaches an after-school art program at Cedar Park. You can see some of his work at

Fowler averages three trips a year to the Yukon to paint, hike and watch wildlife. He's visited the Blue Ridge Mountains the last two Aprils and camped and hiked along the Appalachian Trail. His daughter is a dance major at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va., and has a spring performance each April.

"It's hardwood forests," Fowler said of the Blue Ridge Mountains. "In the spring, there was foliage. It was starting to green out a lot more than it was last year. The biggest adversary was ticks. I came home with quite a few bites."

• Miah Lager and Heidi Reifenstein: The Empire Gallery, on Second Street near North Franklin Street, will continue to show "Intuitive Navigation," an exhibit by co-owners Miah Lager and Heidi Reifenstein. The gallery will open at 4:30 p.m. and likely close at about 6:30 for the Jump Society's Third Annual Film Festival, which began 7 p.m. Thursday, July 10, and continues at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 11.

Rob Royce is scheduled for the gallery in August, and John Stoll is tentatively scheduled for September.

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