Art Beat: Alaska playwrights to be featured in New York

mdunham@adn.comDecember 28, 2012 

New York director Erma Duricko's Blue Roses company will present readings of theater work by Alaskans in the Big Apple in 2013, dates still to be announced. "Blue Roses Celebrates Alaskan Playwrights" will feature the following lineup:

"Better Than the Alternative," by Mollie Ramos; "Crook Book," by Lucas Rowley; "First Kiss," by Tom Moran; "From Afterlife," by Carolyn Roesbery; "Heart Poor," by Dawson Moore ; "Hot Spot," by Linda Billington; "Interpretive Dance" by Schatzie Schaefers; "Just You and Me," by Kyra Meyer; and "The Cigarette," by Forrest Leo.

In addition to the all-Alaska event, Blue Roses will also feature several Alaskans in their "Winter Shorts" and "Not To Be Ignored" events. They include two pieces by Judd Lear Silverman, "The Last Holdout" and "Point of Departure;" "Tornado," by Arlitia Jones; "The War of Virginia and Alabama," by Dawson Moore; and "Love Me Tender" by Linda Billington.

We note that the names above have had associations with the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, held annually in Valdez, where Duricko has been a regular guest. And some of the work seems to have emerged from the experimental flash theater event called "Alaska Overnighters."

The Overnighters return on Jan. 5 and 6 at Alaska Pacific University's Grant Hall Auditorium. Presented by Three Wise Moose and TBA Theatre, the show has playwrights create a new piece and performers to present it onstage, off-book, within 24 hours. A total of eight such pieces will be staged over next weekend.

Each Overnighter plays with a theme or concept. The upcoming "Mystical Edition" will have the writers randomly draw tarot cards, one card for each actor, with the images on the cards somehow materializing in the play. Tickets, $12, are available at the door -- but it often plays to a full house, so you may want to go online for them, or call 677-7529. Catch both nights to see all eight plays while they're still hot from the oven. It'll be cheaper than flying to New York.

The name of Duricko's outfit, "Blue Roses Productions," alludes to the nickname of Laura, the tragic heroine in Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie." Duricko is a Williams specialist who has produced his well-known classics and brought to life a number of previously-unproduced obscurities.


Gifts of 2012

Judging by the art in the "Recent Acquisitions" display on the second floor of the building's atrium, the Anchorage Museum must have been very good this year. The walls are lined with bequests from the Carr and Nagley families of Anchorage, the Ferguson family of Seattle and purchases made thanks to the support of the Rasmuson Foundation and the late Saradell Ard. One finds paintings by old masters Sydney Laurence, Eustace Ziegler, Rusty Heurlin and Fred Machetanz, as well as contemporary artists like Linda Infante-Lyons, Perry Eaton and Michele Suchland. There are also notable photographs like a Denali mountaineer by Tim Remick and the astonishing giclee photo montage "Things are Looking Native, Native's Looking Whiter," by Nicholas Galanin, the Sitka artist previously profiled on these pages who recently received a $50,000 award from United States Artists. Can we pick 'em or what?

The quality of these new arrivals is remarkable. The Laurence pieces, for instance, show him at his most sure-handed and even include an unexpected detailed depiction of a human face. A harpooning scene by Robert Mayokok, best remembered for hand-decorating thousands of tourist trinkets, is the work of a master. (Don't throw away that old ceramic ashtray!)

There's a curious ivory tusk cut into a double spiral and topped with a walrus in a parka holding a seal and a fish, about which little is known. And, for my money the best thing in the collection, a marvelous multi-media sculpture by Earl Atchak, "The Shaman is Almost a Seal," made of driftwood, fur, ivory and gut.

Several historical items also came through the door, the most interesting of which to me was the traveling clock of colonial governor Frederick Wrangel (one "l" despite how the town is spelled). With the timepiece, the museum received portraits of the governor and his wife and of the governor's parents who, as best as I can figure, never visited their son at his remote outpost. These were in bad condition and have undergone meticulous restoration.

The New Acquisitions exhibit will remain on display through Feb. 10.


Now for 2013

The museum will host what appears to be a large exhibit focusing on the Dena'ina Athabascan people, apparently the first ever, opening in September and featuring some 200 objects loaned from collections around the world.

We'll also be keeping an eye on the city's newest art showplace, the Blue.Holloman art gallery operated by Georgia Blue and Gina Holloman. The business will carry "an eclectic mix of contemporary art from both Alaska and Lower 48 artists." On a recent visit, I saw work by Alex Combs, Alvin Amason, Fran Reed, Joan Kimura and Sonya Kelliher-Combs. The modern-styled space in the Olympic Center at Arctic Blvd. and 36th Avenue has southern exposure and an open feel. It appears that the owners are interested in operating it as a gallery rather than a gift shop. There were no tourist T-shirts in the place, but some jewelry, textiles and ceramic art that could be practically applied. The gallery is closed through Jan. 8, when it will reopen with winter hours, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Watch for their opening receptions. The parking lot was packed for their grand opening on Nov. 18 and, I hear, the appetizers were excellent.

Two dates to keep on the calendar are Anchorage Opera's April 5-7 production of "The Pirates of Penzance," with stage direction by the reliable Bill Fabris and Perseverance Theatre's new musical "Bigfoot and Other Lost Souls," Jan. 25-Feb. 3.

"Bigfoot" will be having its premiere here. The fable-tinged story is by Adrien Royce and the music is by Mark Hollmann, who won a Tony Award for his score for "Urinetown: The Musical."

I was among those cool about Anchorage Opera's recent inclusion of musicals in its lineup, including last spring's "Sound of Music," which Fabris also directed. Nothing wrong with Rodgers and Hammerstein, but it's not opera and even when sung by fine and well-miked voices, one misses the frisson of live larynxes touching live eardrums. So when circumstances obliged incoming company executive director Kevin Patterson to drop the planned "My Fair Lady" -- an undisputed masterpiece -- and dust off "Penzance" I considered it an upgrade. I'm looking forward to seeing what Patterson has planned as he settles into the post.


Alaskans in cowboy art show

Two artists with Alaska connections, David and Marie Wagner, wrap up a show in Phoenix, Ariz. today. Both were invited to show western themed art at the 24th Annual Cowboy Classics Western Art & Gear Show that opened on Friday during the 65th Arizona National Livestock Show at the Arizona State Fairgrounds.

David is a painter and photographer who grew up in Colorado and Arizona. Marie works in acrylics and watercolors. David Wagner's website,, indicates that he now lives in Sun City, Ariz.


Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.


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