DOT gets Alaska art for new fast ferry

Posted: Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Bear and eagle masks, woodcut prints, and oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings are among the 19 pieces of artwork that will decorate the Fairweather, the state's new fast ferry.

"We have a pretty good cross-section of different mediums," said Gary Smith, a naval architect for the Alaska Marine Highway System who helped select the pieces.

Smith said about 30 artists from across the state submitted slides of their work to a selection committee of artists and employees with the state Department of Transportation.

Ginger Johnson, a transportation planner with DOT who coordinated the selection process, said the state spent approximately $16,700 procuring the artwork.

The art is paid for through the Percent for Arts program set up by the state. State law says that 1 percent of the cost of constructing a state facility intended for public use shall go toward supplying it with artwork.

Smith said about $6 million of the $36 million project required a 20 percent match from the state. The 1 percent for art was taken from the 20 percent match.

That amounts to about $12,000.

Johnson said the Alaska State Council on the Arts allowed the state to use $4,700 from the Art in Public Places Fund. That fund is made up of 1 percent of the construction costs of state buildings that are not intended for public use such as storage facilities, Johnson said.

Artists from Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks and Homer were among those whose work was picked by the selection committee.

Juneau resident Puanani Maunu, 48, was selected for her acrylic painting "Southeast Surrender #7."

The picture, painted on two 24-by-30-inch canvases, depicts the back side of Douglas Island.

"Southeast Surrender #7" is one of a series that Maunu painted this summer while fishing near Young Bay.

"It was really hard, because the boat kept rocking," said Maunu, who works as a project manager for the Juneau Department of Engineering.

She plans to mount the canvases on a painted plywood board and protect them with a raised layer of Plexiglas.

The state will pay about $1,200 for the piece. Smith said prices for other pieces of artwork range from about $250 to $2,000.

Smith said engineers in Bridgeport, Conn. are putting the final touches on the Fairweather, which is expected to hit Alaska waters early next year. Once DOT has collected the artwork, it will ship it to Bridgeport to be installed on the ship, Smith said.

The vessel is 77 percent complete and is currently being painted and outfitted with a floor and seating. The ship will travel as fast as 32 knots - about 36 mph - and hold 250 passengers and 30 to 35 vehicles.

Smith said the builders, R.E. Derecktor Shipyards, will hold sea trials on the vessel in December, once the Fairweather is complete.

The ship will journey down the East Coast to Central America, pass through the Panama Canal and head up to Juneau.

Smith said the Fairweather is expected to arrive in Juneau on or before Feb. 9.

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at timothyi@juneauempire.com.



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