The Juneau Four

Heidi Reifenstein, Jane Terzis, Roxanne Turner and David Woodie place work in 30th All Alaska Juried Exhibition

Posted: Thursday, October 28, 2004

About seven years ago, Juneau artist David Woodie was having trouble getting an untitled painting into any local gallery.

"Very few galleries accept original work period, and I couldn't do anything with this painting," he said. "It sat on the wall."

Finally, he sent it off to be juried in the 26th All Alaska Juried Art Exhibition, a bi-annual exhibition of state artists that was being juried by Richard West, director of the Frye Art Museum in Seattle. A few months later, Woodie was $1,000 richer

"I won the juror's choice award," he said. "I just about fainted in the post office."

The award changed his artistic life, opening up opportunities all over the state. He was able to earn a show at the Alaska State Museum in 1998 and another at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art in 2001. Last winter, he had one at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum.

The lesson he learned was the importance of showing his work to nonretailers, jurors with a background in fine art. And a fine lesson it was. The All Alaska show is considered the most prestigious major juried art show in the state. Now in its 30th year, the show is sponsored every two years by the Anchorage museum. The 30th opened last year in Anchorage and was juried by Michael Rush, director of the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art in Florida.

Seventy-four artists were selected from more than 260 applicants and 900 entries. Forty of the works, including those of four Juneau artists, will appear at the Alaska State Museum from Nov. 5 through Jan. 8. The other half of the show is currently in Kenai.

The show opens with a First Friday reception, 4-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5. It's free to the public.

"This show would be competitive anywhere in the country in terms of the quality of jurors they've been able to put together," said Woodie, who has had pieces in the last five shows. "It makes it a huge opportunity for artists in Alaska. Where else in any field, any line of work, would you be able to have your work juried essentially blind by someone who's a leading expert in the field?"

Here's a look at Woodie, Roxanne Turner, Jane Terzis and Heidi Reifenstein, the four Juneau artists who have work in this year's show:

• HEIDI REIFENSTEIN, "Look Me in the Eye:" This is the first appearance in a major juried art show for Reifenstein, co-manager of the soon-to-be-closing Empire Gallery at Second and Franklin streets.

"I think this is the biggest honor I've ever had," she said. "I've never been in such a high caliber of artists before. Being a young artist, I haven't really applied to that many juried art shows. But I was very pleased and honored and complimented that my work made it in."

"Look Me in the Eye," is one of a series of blind drawings that Reifenstein completed while she was vacationing in Mexico in November and December 2002. A self-portrait, it appeared in Reifenstein and Miah Lager's "Intuitive Navigation" show last June at the Empire Gallery.

Blind drawings, i.e. drawing while looking at the subject instead of the canvas, are often used as warm-up exercises in drawing classes. They stress mental imaging and hand-eye coordination. Because of the nature of the work - concentrating on the face and drawing blind - artists tend to exaggerate details, facial or otherwise. Picking and choosing the details to highlight is often subconscious.

"In a very general sense, ('Look Me in the Eye') represented a lot of personal decisions I was making at that point (in Mexico)," Reifenstein said. "I finally had a chance to get away from my life in Juneau and I had a lot of time to think about what was happening in my life. There were a lot of different experiences coming together and it was an opportunity for me to think about the direction my life was taking."

• JANE TERZIS, "I Have the Capacity for Obsessive Neatness," and "I Have the Capacity for Meanness:" Terzis, the assistant professor of art at the University of Alaska Southeast, has had work in the last eight All Alaska Juried shows, including a Juror's Choice award in 1998 and honorable mentions in 1996 and 1992.

"It's great (to be chosen), and to be chosen consistently has been really nice too," Terzis said. "As much as we try to remind ourselves that just doing the work is really important, to have a distinguished juror from Outside who doesn't know any of us is a valuable opinion."

Both of her drawings in this show are small, 5 by 7 inches, pencil on Strathmore paper, and are part of a larger series that Terzis is preparing for the Alaska State Museum next year. She will have approximately 50 drawings under the working title, "Prayer for the Protection of All Beings." Each individual piece will be subtitled, "I Have the Capacity for...," followed by a quality. All the characters have the distinguishing head shape, or head flap, that has been part of Terzis' work for the last 15 years.

"I consider them all to be self-portraits in a way, and the capacities are capacities we all carry," Terzis said. "It has a lot to do with my concerns about our global situation."

The first drawing in the show, "I Have the Capacity for Obsessive Neatness," stars a girl on roller-skates. A hint of gouche watercolor gives her dress a pink tint. The second drawing, "I Have the Capacity for Meanness," features a boy in a Superman costume. That boy, in or out of costume, is a recurring character in Terzis' work. He appeared in a piece called "Art Boy," that won Best of Show at the Northwest Juried Art Show in 1990 in Spokane.

• ROXANNE TURNER, "Marrakech:" Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, Turner began a political series of mixed-media collages featuring veiled Muslim women in different countries.

The collection included a veiled Hindu woman in India, an Omani woman in Bedouin burqa, a desert nomad in Saudi Arabia wearing a canvas hood, and an Iranian woman in a chador, or full-body cloak.

"At first I was real interested in Afghanistan; it was so much in the news that I started reading up," Turner said. "I became really concerned about the Taliban and all of the oppressive measures toward women."

The Moroccan woman in "Marrakech" is wearing a Nikab, a burqa-like garment that covers all of the face except the eyes and cheekbones. Unframed, the piece stands 18 by 22 inches. It started as a monotype print, then Turner collaged different Oriental papers and designs on to the surface.

"I only did this political work for about a year and a half, and it was well received intellectually and a lot of people understood it," Turner said. "But I think it was kind of a downer for people to be reminded about Afghanistan and more recently, Iraq. Political art has a place and a purpose that's important, but I think a lot of people would rather look at nice scenery."

Turner will also have a solo show opening at the city museum during First Friday. Look in the Nov. 4 This Week, for more information. "Marrakech" marks Turner's third appearance in an All Alaska Juried show. She was also in the 1992 and 2000 collections.

• DAVID WOODIE, "Untitled" and "Vanitas:" Those who saw Woodie's solo show, "Narrative Painting," this April at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum are familiar with the general style of the commercial fisherman and UAS art professor's work. Unlike surrealism, narrative painting encourages the use of metaphors that can be read in as many ways as possible. The movement became popular around the turn of the 20th century and was partly inspired by Greek mythology.

"Untitled" is a 50-by-74-inch painting that stars a large, winged human figure hovering in front of Mount Juneau at some undetermined point around 1900. The painting took three years to complete, in part because he re-painted the face 30 times.

"It's extraordinarily difficult to invent a human figure without reference," Woodie said. "Usually, you get a model. I used my own hands and my own clothes, but I intentionally made the figure be someone else. I guess it's a portrait, but it's a self-portrait that is pretty transformed from how I am physically."

His other work, "Vanitas," is inspired by a genre of painting that began in 16th century Holland and emphasizes the transitory nature of life. It's a landscape of the O'Donnell River, as it flows into Atlin lake on the south end of Pike Bay in British Columbia. In the foreground, a disembodied hand floats, holding a cigarette.

"Particularly in reference to this place and this time, where I grew up and spent most of my adult life, everybody smoked, including me until 15 years ago," Woodie said. "It's a metaphor for the way you can consume your life. You just don't live your life, you consume it."

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