'Precipitation' in place at parking garage

Posted: Monday, October 18, 2010

Dan DeRoux huddled inside his bright orange raingear, his Xtratufs balancing his weight precariously among the rungs of an aluminum stepladder as the infamous Southeast horizontal rain beat down and through his exposed hands.

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Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

"This is just so appropriate," DeRoux said as his handheld power drill chugged away, fastening the finishing panels of his work "Precipitation" on the concrete wall of the still-under-construction Downtown Transit Center Parking Garage. "It fits the theme. I guess it just wouldn't be art without some agony." How fortunate

Precipitation not only refers to the amount of rain, sleet, hail, snow and other forms of water falling from the sky that Juneau is blessed with each year but also, DeRoux said, the history of Alaska and the capital.

"That was a tremendous part of the inspiration," he said. "The title reflects that in its content in which everything precipitates the next."

DeRoux will be taking a brief hiatus from Juneau on Wednesday, so the inclement weather is just a minor inconvenience to overcome as he finishes last-second details.

"I'll be drilling some holes so illumination can be installed in these bottom panels," DeRoux said as a cantankerous screw spit sideways away from his pressure and onto the ground below. "I haven't heard back from the city's electrician either."

DeRoux said there will be flood lights that shine onto the 12 3-foot square, 6-inch deep panels mounted on brackets and the four-panel mural below them.

"They just fit perfectly under the concrete easement above," DeRoux said. "I couldn't have planned it any better."

The flood lights will reveal the 12 mounted visions of Juneau history, digitally scanned images of painted scenes that were set in enamel and baked onto aluminum, including a cruise ship, Eagle and Raven totems, the Alaska-Juneau Mine, a Pacific Coastal Airlines Grumman Goose, a corner of the capitol building, the state flag and an ancient cannery label.

"I am going to get a man lift and fix that cannery label," DeRoux said. "I am going to turn it slightly, so the label is more readable."

The 12 mounted panels appear to be tumbling or raining down upon the four-panel stretch of a perfect rendition of downtown Juneau.

"I am going to go ahead and drill the holes for some lighting," DeRoux said from his ladder perch. "And then I'll frame this in. Last-minute details never end. I need to get a hold of that electrician."

The four panels will feature fiber optic lights that shine out through holes drilled where streetlights and windows rest in the perfectly detailed panorama of the city.

DeRoux let the city model itself as he peered through binoculars from his Douglas studio to perfectly replicate each house, building, and street lamp onto the scene.

"I wish I could see it with fresh eyes," DeRoux said of Precipitation. "I have been looking at the design for two years now. It turned out just like I imagined. The pleasure in seeing it now is being done with it. I like driving around the block and seeing it appear in front of my eyes."

DeRoux has completed art arriving today which he will assemble near the entrance of the newly renovated Harborview Elementary School on Tuesday. Entitled 'Imagination," the work is more round in nature.

"It is of a child blowing a series of bubbles," DeRoux said of the roughly nine-foot-wide panel. "And the bubbles contain scenes of children doing various things and the face of a harbor seal, the school mascot."

Other bubble scenes include children in a tree fort, a girl reading by flashlight under a blanket with her dog, a child holding a globe of the earth, a scene from Juneau's annual Celebration, and a the Filipino community marching in the 4th of July parade.

"Basically it is just a big flight of fancy," DeRoux said. "I was told to do something fun that has something to do with water. I think people, especially the kids and their parents and traffic going by, will really think it is fun. I did."

DeRoux competed for the two projects through Juneau's One Percent for Art Program.

DeRoux also has two pieces in the planning stages for Anchorage.

For Chester Valley Elementary School he is making a big mural of Chester Creek woods and everything happening in the woods starts with letters of the alphabet.

For Mountain View Public Library a flock of geese with book covers and pages for wings will be captured in flight.

"I just tried to be an elementary kid and thought what I would like to see on the wall," DeRoux said of his creativity. "And it makes me feel like a kid too."

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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