Museum gets fresh art part II

New pieces by five local artists to be exhibited in January

Posted: Friday, December 19, 2008

The Juneau-Douglas City Museum recently acquired new art by five local artists - Dan DeRoux, Rie Muñoz, Salty Hanes, Trevor Gong and Ella Bentley - through the Rasmuson Art Acquision Fund. These pieces will be on exhibit Jan. 2-31 in the museum's Recent Acquisitions Exhibit.

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Courtesy Of Jane Lindsay
Courtesy Of Jane Lindsay

Applications made to the Rasmuson Art Acquision Fund for DeRoux's and Muñoz's works were featured on Dec. 12. The following is information on Hanes', Gong's and Bentley's pieces.


Trevor Gong

"The Evening Star"

Gong has been exhibiting his work in Juneau since 2000. Gong ties traditional flies used for steelhead, trout and salmon flyfishing, and he has also come to enjoy the meticulous process of display tying (art flies that are matted and framed).

"When I am actually tying fishing flies, if it takes more than a minute I get bored," Gong said. "I'll sit down and whip out a whole bunch of production flies and go fishing, and then sit down for eight hours to tie one fly."

Gong grew up in Seattle and managed a fly fishing and fly tying shop for four years in Ballard, Wash. He moved to Juneau in 1997. Through the years Gong has became more and more enamored with display tying and spends most of his spare time creating innovative ties which involves making his own hooks, dying his own feathers and fur, and then tying the fly. Gong mills and builds his own wood frames, and cuts his own the mats. His work has been described as meticulous, intricate, vibrant, and stunning.

Brad Elfers is the local owner of Juneau based fly tying shop, Flyfishing Goods and is a member of Rain Country Fly Fishers.

"It's really unusual to find someone like him around," Elfers said. "He's probably the best fly tier in Southeast Alaska, possibly the whole state."

"Basically you have a palette of colors, and you just start going for it, like you're painting," Gong said. "That's really the part that I like. A lot of these flies have married wings. You can take a feather and cut the barbs off and pull them apart. So you can take a lot of different colors and pull them apart and put them back together just like you're painting with color, as long as the feathers are compatible."

Some of Gong's flies are invented artistic patterns. Others are established patterns more than 100 years old that have been recorded in books.

"Sometimes I'll make a sketch, other times I'll get an idea and match up pairs of feathers," Gong said. "Sometimes I'll even retie with the main body, look at it decide the pair doesn't look right and untie it and start all over again. Generally I do it off the cuff, but sometimes I'll follow a pattern and give it my own interpretation."

The Evening Star is a pattern first published in J.H. Hale's book, How to Tie Salmon Flies (1892) and is considered one of the great classic salmon fly's. The hook is hand forged steel, the tag is made with silver tinsel and scarlet silk floss, the tail is golden pheasant crest, and the butt is black ostrich herl. The body is comprised of four equal sections; the first three of oval silver tinsel, each with a pair of jungle cock under, and each butted with black ostrich herl. The last section is royal blue silk floss with silver tinsel rib. The throat is jungle cock. These and the body veiling's each slightly increase in length from the rear end of the body. The wing is comprised of four Amhurst pheasant tippets in two pairs (back to back), the outer pairs shorter than the inner pairs; with a golden pheasant topping. Cheeks are comprised of one on each side, the tip of a barred wood duck feather and a shorter red Macaw tail feather. The horns are comprised of red macaw tail feather, and the head is black ostrich herl. The Evening Star is framed with walnut which has been stock milled by Gong. The mats are hand cut.

Gong notes that collecting feathers is almost as important as tying the flies. Most of the feathers come from endangered birds that have been raised domestically. Many exotic birds take care to raise and their feathers can be very expensive. Some breeders don't kill and skin the birds, but carefully collect the molted feathers.

The museum is fortunate to have a collection of 20th century angling artifacts that represent surf casting, trolling for salmon and halibut, and bait casting for artic grayling in Juneau. The largest donation of angling artifacts to the museum include some 37 flies donated by a local family that ran a charter business from the 1930-90s. Gong's art fly will compliment the museum's collection with a creative and individual approach to a local and national passion - flytying and flyfishing.

"Evening Star" was completed in April 2008 in Juneau and was exhibited at Gong's solo artist exhibit, "The Art of the Salmon Fly" in April 2008. The work has not been published or won awards and is owned by the artist and has been in his possession since it was created.


Salty Hanes

Untitled octopus bag

The museum owns two bead and crochet bags by Hanes, purchased in 2004 with Art Acquisition Initiative funds.

Hanes was born in New Jersey and grew up in Maine. She attended Colorado State University and received a degree in art. She moved to Juneau in 1976 and, in 1984, began her business career as a professional seamstress with her business, Taku Tailor.

In 1987, she started selling beads in her shop and teaching beading classes. In 1994, Hanes decided to sell beads exclusively. Hanes has traveled through Southeast Alaska teaching beading classes in Sitka, Angoon and Tenakee Springs. She worked with the Juneau School District in 2001 as an artist in schools, producing a 14-by-22-inch bead panel executed by the students and called "Eagle Raven Mural."

Hanes first exhibited her beadwork with four other bead artists in Juneau in 1999 at the Juneau Arts & Humanities Gallery. In 2000, Hanes coordinated a traveling Alaskan and Canadian exhibit of ten bead artists including her work. Most recently, Hanes has exhibited her work in a joint exhibit with her husband, James Hanes, "Bentwood and Bead" in August 2008 at Sitka's Devilfish Gallery. Hanes and another fiber artist will be guest solo artists at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum in the fall of 2009.

Hanes describes herself as a bead artist living in the temperate rain forest archipelago of Southeast Alaska. She finds her inspiration from the seasonal changes of light, dark, and colors. The beauty of the ocean, mountains, forest, sky and people, are a constant source of inspiration in her artwork. Using traditional prototypes such as leather clothing, moccasins, octopus bags and button blankets, Hanes changes and reinvents the colors and patterns of these ageless forms so that they possess her unique perspective.

"I see textures in nature and try to transpose them into my beading," Hanes said of her work.

The octopus bag is an item that has been historically constructed in this area by Tlingit Indian women. The tradition of the octopus bag was crafted from floral patterns introduced to the Subartic Indian Women during the Victorian era and traded west to the Athabascan and south to the Tlingit.

This octopus bag renders the patterns with extremely bright, almost fluorescent beads and very abstract patterning. Hanes takes floral pattern forms and relaxes them to create undulating abstract patterns which look like dancing plant, animal and human forms. The colors that she uses create a pulsing effect. The images in this octopus bag are original seaweed patterns created by the artist. The bead colors reflect the four seasons.

The bag is comprised of antique and new beads ranging in size from 11 to 16. The blue beads on the tassels are Russian trade beads and are probably from Venice, Italy and date back to the 1850s. The black felt, monks cord and tassels are all made of 100 percent wool.

Hanes' untitled octopus bag was completed in July 2008 in Juneau. This work has not been exhibited, published or won awards. The artwork is owned by the artist and has been in her possession since it was created.


Ella Bentley-Johnson

"Working Man's Hand," a beaded bag

Bentley-Johnson has been described as a "bead sculptress who takes beadwork to a level unheard of. She has created beaded baskets of beaded fruit, miniature beaded boots and a miniature beaded replica of one of Elvis Presley's famous blue suede shoes. She has created beaded geodes, bead-encrusted inter-tidal beach rocks complete with beaded seaweed and bead barnacles, and bouquets of flowers all made of glass beads."

Bentley has lived in Juneau most of her life and started working with beads 22 years ago. She works in her studio in her home every day. Primarily self-taught, she has traveled throughout the United States to study with bead artists. Bentley makes jewelry, beaded bags and sculpture, and has received national attention for her work. She competes in juried shows and exhibitions and her work is in many publications. Her artwork has been featured in 16 publications. Her work is also featured in many Fire Mountain Gems Bead ads as well as their 2007 calendar. Bentley is a founding and active member of the Mt. Juneau Artist Cooperative. She also teaches bead classes to the community.

"I have been beading for about 22 years, prior to that, I indulged in almost every handicraft there was," Bentley-Johnson said. "Earrings and jewelry have been my bread and butter for years, but now I'm more interested in making really beautiful, one-of-a-kind art pieces."

Bentley has stated that she thinks the new interest in beading is not a fad, but a renaissance of an art form that deserves its current popularity. Juneau bead artists have seen a big increase in beading in the Native community, and many think this is a result of Sealaska Heritage Foundation's biennial cultural event started in 1982.

Bentley said that beads speak to her. She doesn't really plan her pieces, but just starts working.

"My love is whimsy," Bentley said. "A lot of my personality goes into my work. I am a happy person. I'm a happy person and sometimes I chuckle to myself as I work."

As stated in the Bead International exhibit catalogue, "Working Man's Hand," is made from U.S. Navy uniform fabric embroidered with beads and tiny brass tools from an antique bracelet, in the form of Bentley's husband's hand.

"Beads are a wonderful, tactile medium with which to express my self, ideas, inspirations, love of beauty and quirky sense of humor," she said of her work. "In addition to designing and making jewelry, I love creating sculptural pieces that are delightfully playful or nostalgic for the viewer. Comments such as "How on earth did you do that?' are to me the ultimate compliment and reward."

The museum has a collection of more than 30 pieces of beadwork ranging from the turn of the century up to the present. Of this amount, almost ⅔ of the collection is Native made dance shirts, slippers, necklaces, wall pockets, head bands, dolls, slippers and gloves. Another portion of the museum's beadwork collection is from the early to mid-1900s and is comprised of beaded Victorian bags and string necklaces.

Beading is very important traditionally to this area, and continues to be a source of inspiration for artists in this area. Bentley-Johnson's contemporary piece will compliment this tradition and open new doors to the viewer of her work as the limitless possibilities in the art form.

"Working Man's Hand," a beaded bag was completed in April 2007 in Juneau and was juried into Bead International 2008, an international bead and weaving exhibit produced and circulated by the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens Ohio. The piece is published in the exhibit catalogue and is owned by the artist and will be on exhibit tour until 2010.

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