Rondy's Native arts market honors volunteer

Mike Dunham
People walk past a giant phoenix snow sculpture on Tuesday night, Mar. 1, 2011, that was carved by Team AK Awesome who won first place in the 3-member team competition at Fur Rondy.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Visitors from Wisconsin brave the cold wind during Fur Rondy in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Blanket toss during Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Declan Sorich, 5, is launched into the air during the blanket toss at the Rondy Carnival at 3rd Avenue and E Street in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011. The walrus blanket being used is over 40-years-old and people will get another chance to try the blanket toss next Friday from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m-4 p.m.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
A Percheron draft horse named Bill, from the Horse Drawn Carriage Company, waits to give rides during the Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
People flocked to the Rondy Carnival at 3rd Avenue and E Street despite the cold wind in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Spectators watch a dog team finish during the Rondy World Championship Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Kent Schumacher wearing a Alaska gray wolf cape watches the finish of the Rondy World Championship Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Anne Marie Woods of Belfast, Ireland, gives the blanket toss a try during Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Anchorage Police officer John Daily clears the trail on final day of the Rondy World Championship Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
A youngster is lauched into the air during the blanket toss at the Rondy Carnival in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Pullers hang onto the 40-year-old walrus blanket being used at Fur Rondy in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
The State of Alaska Hide and Horn Auction took place near the Rondy Carnival Sunday afternoon. Fur Rendezvous events continued in downtown Anchorage and elsewhere on a sunny, but breezy, Sunday, February 27, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Fur Rondy Queen Desiree Merculief at the finish of the Rondy World Championship Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
A youngster is tossed into the air during the blanket toss at the Fur Rondy buttress area in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011. The walrus blanket being used is over 40-years-old and people will get another chance to try the blanket toss next Friday from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m-4 p.m.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
The State of Alaska Hide and Horn Auction took place near the Rondy Carnival Sunday afternoon. Fur Rendezvous events continued in downtown Anchorage and elsewhere on a sunny, but breezy, Sunday, February 27, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Fur pelts for sale along 4th Avenue during the Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Fur Rondy blanket toss in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
The Liberty Tax Preparation Service float ducks under a traffic light during the parade. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Ken Lantis of Lantis Fireworks and Lasers worked with others to set up the shells that will launch the Fur Rendezvous fireworks show. Lantis, who says his company has been putting on the Rondy fireworks for more than 30 years, says more than 2,400 shells will be shot during this year's display which happens a 6:45pm on Satuday, February 26, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
A Percheron draft horse named Bill, from the Horse Drawn Carriage Company, pulls a carriage at 3rd Avenue and E Street during Fur Rondy in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Fur hats for sale along 4th Avenue during Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Beverly Luedke-Chan, left, and Paul Chan cross 4th Avenue in Anchorage while carrying brown bear hides that they purchased during the State of Alaska Hide & Horn Auction during Fur Rondy on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Gladys Johnson and her sister Dorotha Johnson watch the parade pass on 5th Avenue. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The State of Alaska Hide and Horn Auction took place near the Rondy Carnival Sunday afternoon. Fur Rendezvous events continued in downtown Anchorage and elsewhere on a sunny, but breezy, Sunday, February 27, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement worker Ethan McPhepridge pulls chains off of the Silver Steak ride at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Great Train Show is on display at the Alaska Railroad Depot. Fur Rendezvous events continued in downtown Anchorage and elsewhere on a sunny, but breezy, Sunday, February 27, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The Cordova Iceworm float makes its way down 6th Avenue. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
A sprint mushing race fan watches a team depart on Sunday. Fur Rendezvous events continued in downtown Anchorage and elsewhere on a sunny, but breezy, Sunday, February 27, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Jake Berkowitz and his team head down Cordova Street on the second day of racing. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Zack Kemplen chips away at the top of a block of snow as Allen Kemplen shovels at the base on Thursday, February 24, 2011. They were working to create their entry in the GCI Snow Sculpture Competition, an event of Fur Rendezvous 2011. The snow sculpture display is located on Ship Creek Avenue near the Comfort Inn.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement workers David Alonso and Wade Meade assemble the Tornado ride at the Race Time game at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Mike Riordan wears his collection of Rondy pins. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Cotton candy is prepared at the Rondy Carnival. Fur Rendezvous events continued in downtown Anchorage and elsewhere on a sunny, but breezy, Sunday, February 27, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement workers Thomas Bradish hangs prizes at the Balloon Pop game at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement worker Steven Bavilla spread the covering over the merry-go-round at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement worker Ethan McPhepridge shovels snow off of the Silver Steak ride at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement workers Dave Kendall and Steven Bavilla spread the covering over the merry-go-round at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Pirates of Dollar Lake consisted of participants from Big Lake. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
A float from Waterworks Spas and Saunas includes a giant duck. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement workers Dave Kendall and Steven Bavilla spread the covering over the merry-go-round at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Mark "The Alaska Bushman" Braaten collected donations for Healing Hearts, an organization for wounded veterans. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement workers Jeff Okuley, top, and Dan Comes assemble the Apollo ride at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Cordova Iceworm float makes its way down 6th Avenue. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Antique tractors participate in the parade. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The Alaska Territorial Cavalry (Motorized) rides down 6th Avenue. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement worker Isabel Trias hangs stuffed polar bear prizes at the Race Time game at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
In the foreground, Ed Bouwens and Charles Whiteley work on their king crab snow sculpture while, at left, Allen Kemplen and Zack Kemplen chip away at a sculpure they're calling "Fairview Pride." The work is part of the GCI Snow Sculpture Competition which is located along Ship Creek Avenue near the Comfort Inn. It's just one of the events of this year's Fur Rendezvous, which kicks into high gear on Friday, February 29 and continues through Sunday, March 6.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Taxidermist Kenneth Morris sells furs downtown. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Desiree Merculief was crowned Miss Rondy Queen at Mayor Dan Sullivan's weekly press conference at Rondy Headquarters in Club 25 on Wednesday February 16, 2011. Merculief is crowned by last years queen Chelsey Homan. At left is Haley Dobis member of her court.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Ryan Housler's dog team sprints down Cordova Street. Fur Rendezvous continued with many events around Anchorage on Saturday, February 26, 2011, including the Grand Parade and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement workers Lanessa Lopes and Janell Kakaruk hang prizes at the Balloon Pop game at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement game prizes at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Golden Wheel Amusement workers Isabel Trias and Estelle Patrick hang stuffed polar bear prizes at the Race Time game at the Anchorage Fur Rondy carnival in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday February 23, 2011. The Carnival opens on Friday February 25 at 1 pm.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Anchorage Fur Rondy Lord Trapper Jim Robbins at Rondy Headquarters in Club 25 on Wednesday February 16, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Desiree Merculief was crowned Miss Rondy Queen at Mayor Dan Sullivan's weekly press conference at Rondy Headquarters in Club 25 on Wednesday February 16, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Fur Rondy royalty, left to right, princess Marlise Williams, King Regent Caleb Aldman Miss Rondy Queen Desiree Merculief, queen regent Ginger Zarobsky, princess Haley Dobis and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan at the mayor's weekly press conference at Rondy Headquarters in Club 25 on Wednesday February 16, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Desiree Merculief was crowned Miss Rondy Queen at Mayor Dan Sullivan's weekly press conference at Rondy Headquarters in Club 25 on Wednesday February 16, 2011. Princess Haley Dobis, Queen Desiree Merculief and Princess Marlise Williams have their photograph made by Clark James Mishler.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News

One of Fur Rendezvous' biggest events in terms of the number of people involved and the amount of dollars changing hands kicks off today. And it has a new name.

The Charlotte Jensen Native Arts Market will open at 10 a.m. today and run through Sunday at the Dimond Center. Hundreds of vendors -- not just from Anchorage, but from all across Alaska -- are on hand with ivory carvings, sealskin mukluks, fox fur hats, bead jewelry, grass baskets and other crafts. More mainstream items like paintings and T-shirt prints are also found among the 200 or so tables that fill the corridors of Dimond Center.

But it's the combined quality, variety and amount of the traditional art in this show that makes it perhaps the best emporium of Alaska Native art in the world. Master artists like Alutiiq carver Peter Lind, whose exquisite replicas are coveted by major collectors and museums, can be found next to makers of dolls or yo-yos who are little known outside their home towns. In some cases, villagers throw together so that one of them can bring craftwork by several people to the big market in Anchorage.

The new name is a tribute to the late veteran Rondy volunteer who helped get the Native arts and crafts show on its feet at its inception. Moreover, she is credited as playing a key roll in rescuing the entire festival from financial collapse in 2006.

Charlotte Jensen was born in Ely, Minn., in 1938. She became a nurse and came to Anchorage in 1963 to work at the old Alaska Native Hospital downtown.

A whirlwind of organizational force, Jensen was the quintessential super-volunteer in everything from political elections to homemaking groups, creating bazaars and forming support networks for amputees.

She first joined the Rondy board in the 1970s and over the years sold pins, managed the Rondy Trade Show, trained incoming volunteers and served as chairman of the Native Arts Market, which she listed as her favorite responsibility. She earned the Vern Johnson Award for volunteer work and, in 1996, was made Lady Trapper.

But it takes more than enthusiasm for a festival to flourish. As Anchorage grew and diversions became more numerous, the Rondy began to fade from the prominent position it had held in the early days.

By the summer of 2006, the Rondy was in dire straits with more than $110,000 in debt. Finger-pointing and frustration were rife.

At about this time, Jensen became president of the board of Greater Anchorage Inc., the nonprofit that sponsors the Rondy. In a Daily News' commentary, she detailed how options had been explored, staff cut, outlets closed, events curtailed and how collaborative efforts with other organizations had failed to materialize.

But, having laid out the grim facts, she then drew a line in the snow. Rondy would not die on her watch, she said. "Fur Rendezvous is a vital part of Alaska's history and tradition."

She outlined adjustments the festival was making to keep itself relevant and GAI's program to pay off the debt.

"Char was an integral part of Rondy's recent return to success," reads the dedication to her in this year's Rondy program book. "She had faith that the festival was important to too many people and that Alaskans wouldn't let it disappear."

After her term and well into her long battle with rheumatoid arthritis, she continued to be the woman Rondy staff called for advice and expertise.

When the disease finally made it impossible for her to drive herself, her husband, John, became the chauffeur so that she could still attend meetings.

Jensen died in Anchorage on Dec. 12, 2010.

But that didn't get her family off the hook.

Last night John and his son Michael were busy setting up the lines of tables at the Dimond Center. They'll be there to direct the artists as they come in and to clean up after the last piece leaves on Sunday afternoon.

"My dad's basically been at Mom's side for a long time through Rondy," said Michael. "I take a week off and volunteer down there."

THE ANCHORAGE FUR RENDEZVOUS CHARLOTTE JENSEN NATIVE ARTS MARKET Takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and continues daily through 5 p.m. Sunday at the Dimond Center.


By MIKE DUNHAM
mdunham@adn.com