Pair produces unique book of Sitka photographs, essays

Book features images of wildlife, landscapes, people playing outside

Posted: Friday, November 27, 2009

SITKA - An eagle sits on a rock on the north end of town, looking at the camera, with O'Connell Bridge, the Sisters and Mt. Verstovia in the background.

Two boys are drenched under a waterfall.

Lupines bloom in the alpine above Lake Diana.

More than 60 Sitkans crowded into Kettleson Memorial Library Sunday afternoon to view dozens of scenes captured by photographer Dan Evans, and hear Sitka writer Carolyn Servid read essays she wrote to accompany Evans' pictures.

The two collaborated on the book "Sitka: A Home in the Wild," which features full-color photos by Evans, and prose by Servid, who is director of Island Institute.

"It's clearly a book about home," Servid said. She said the book is also about "a sense of place," and "community."

"There are things we are looking at every day," Servid said. "Dan has captured them in a way that brings out their extraordinariness."

The book features Evans' photographs taken over a number of years in Sitka, including wildlife, landscapes and people enjoying the outdoors on top of mountains, in the woods and on the water.

"I just seem to take a lot more pictures than most people," Evans said.

Servid wrote 10 essays to capture various aspects of Sitka life.

"Kraak! Kraak! Raven interrupts your sleep. Summer morning. 5:40. Full daylight floods the sky. Kraak! The world is awake, alive. Kraak! Kraak!" The essay that opens the book is accompanied on the opposite page by a raven taking flight.

The next section, on people, opens with "This is the place we call home. We fishermen in bibbed rain gear and rubber boots, toughened bodies trained by rolling seas, rituals defined by bait and hook and line, boats seaworthy with care, clothes breathing diesel-fish air, salt air, flashing fish over the gunwale, filling the cooler, filling the hold. ..."

Evans and Servid also signed and sold copies of the book, available through Evans.

The Sunday program was one of a series at the library in which Sitkans are invited to make a presentation for the public and share their experiences. Next Sunday, at 4 p.m., Peter Gorman will talk about his trip to India.

"I'm trying to work out a good title for (the series) -- 'Voyaging in Your Library,' maybe," said Kettleson Library Director Sarah Jones.

Jones said she has issued a general invitation to anyone with interesting travel stories that might inspire others to make similar journeys. Jones said Evans' photos reflect his various journeys around town, up mountains and across Baranof Island.

"I could look at Dan's photographs all day long," Jones said. "He has enough (photos) for a separate presentation on crossing Baranof."

Last weekend, Tim Fulton and his daughter shared stories from their trip to Egypt. Other programs on the schedule include the Sitka High Spanish class trip last summer to Guatemala on Dec. 13, and Bill Foster's trip to Antarctica.

"We have a string of them now, but I want to have something every other Sunday," said Jones. "There are so many people in town who travel, and can share how to get there, and to give people tips about different countries."

Jones said she has been impressed by the response she has received to her request for people willing to show their photographs, maps and travel experiences.

"Often it's the things I'm interested in, and places I've seen people express an interest in," she said.

Jones said the presentation series fits well with the library's resources.

"We have lots of travel books -- you can not only plan your trip here, but we have a good collection of fiction (related to the areas covered), and DVDs," she said. "We try to tie those things together."

Jones noted that while the library has expanded its offerings, the mission remains the same, to share information.

"There is a different scope of what the library is," she said. "People can buy books, DVDs, download onto their Kindle. It used to be the library was the only game in town for that. Now we're not."

Jones said the library has become an "added-value institution" through such programs as the Sunday afternoon series.

"We offer that opportunity for people to learn from one another," she said. "One of the important things about those presentations is people hang out and talk to each other, and share information. That's what libraries are about. We still check in and check out (materials) and we're glad to do that and we'll continue to do that."

"It just happens to be that we have an incredible community that is full of a huge range of expertise, and people want to share that," Jones said.

Kettleson is kicking off a new service this winter: adult storytime at noon every Friday. The series will start noon, Friday, Dec. 5.

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