Gallery Walk offers a short course in art appreciation.
The annual holiday event, now in its 19th year, beckons browsers with goodies from hot cider to 30-foot buffets, to be sipped and munched while strolling and driving from trading post to gallery, from Franklin Street to Jordan Creek.
Art lovers are treated to a feast of artistic visions, from abstract to realistic; and to work in a mind-boggling variety of mediums, from oils to wood block prints, from book illustrations and bronzes to Northwest Coast sterling silver bracelets, and from landscapes to whale bone carvings.
The Gallery Walk continues today from noon to 4 p.m., featuring dozens of artists. Here's a sampling.
To celebrate the fact that Eagle River artist Jon Van Zyle has created Iditarod sled dog race posters for 25 years, Epicenter Press published "Iditarod Memories, " with thoughtful text by Jon's wife Jona.
"We have co-designed the Junior Iditarod logos for the past couple of years," Jona said. "So when the opportunity arose for this book, it was a nice opportunity for me. I tried to bring his fans along with his career and the growing popularity of the race."
Jona works in textiles as well as words. Her "Dogtrainer's Jacket," a takeoff on an Athabascan chief's jacket, hangs in Rainsong Gallery's window. It's decorated with 20 years of Jona's dog tags.
Although Jon began illustrating children's books in acrylics only about four years ago, more than a dozen are in print.
"They allow me to do painting I normally would not be able to do for galleries, and allow me to work with somebody else's thoughts," he said.
Collaboration allows Van Zyle to escape from what he said can be "selfish one-on-one production." "Collaboration is something that probably most artists don't get a chance to do," he added.
While Van Zyle leans to the poster size, Scott McDaniel's landscapes may come in a compact format. For example, he painted "Where Eagles Gather" as a 5-by-7-inch view of downtown and Mount Juneau from Sandy Beach, with multiple eagles perched on pilings.
McDaniel, who has been painting Alaska in oil for three decades, joked Saturday at Gallery of the North that he enjoys the small format because it foils "people who say they don't have any room left" for new art.
McDaniel brought 17 new paintings for Gallery Walk from Anchorage, where he lives. One of the largest pieces is "Have you driven a Fjord lately?," a scene of sea lions and crashing waves. "Smoking Fish" and "Rare Encounter" are reminiscent of Sydney Laurence.
"I come from the old Barbizon School of Laurence and (Jean Francois) Millet, and I use the limited Cirrus palette of five colors," he said. Wielding only yellow, cyan, magenta, ultra marine and vermilion, he eliminates the "carbon black look" and produces brilliant sunsets.
"I studied the French Impressionists but was much more taken with the California Impressionists, who are now in vogue," McDaniel said.
Van Zyle and McDaniel have taken part in many Gallery Walks, but this is Sitka resident Sandra Greba's first.
Growing up with a botanist mother, it's no wonder watercolorist Greba lovingly portrays iris, fireweed and chocolate lilies.
"I like to do them botanically correct. I do a lot of study and research on each flower before I begin a painting," Greba said. "I started with wildflowers, then went into cultivated flowers. Now I pretty much plant my garden with an eye to future paintings."
A typical Greba piece pairs a bird house she built with a rose she grew, both reflecting the light of "a really sunny day and we don't get that many."
"Then," she said, "my paintings are who I am." Look for her tulips, chickadees, pigeon guillemots and bird houses at Annie Kaill's gift store.
No birds for animalier Judi Rideout of Palmer, whose wolves, grizzlies and otters hang at The Big Picture gallery at Lyle's Home Furnishings for Gallery Walk.
"I like the African animals like giraffe and zebra because of their patterns," she said. "I like sea otters because they're clowns."
Rideout typically avoids background and does "up-close and personal" portraits zeroing in on an elk's face, omitting even its rack. "I like to get right into doing fur," she said.
First, she takes photos, melding several into a chosen pose. Next she does a detailed pencil drawing, and then begins working on a velour mat. She finishes off with "tiny pieces of pastel so small you can hardly get your fingers on them."
Among the pieces Rideout is showing for Gallery Walk is a new one called "Variety Pack," a portrait of eight dachshunds. The piece has brought her many commissions and "opened a lot of doors in the art world," she said.