Art Beat: Chamber Music Festival highlights week

Mike Dunham
From left, Nicholas Clement, Nicholas Holmer, Jessie Pruitt and Robert Schlader prepare a narwhal tusk for scanning at the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks.
Photo by Theresa Bakker
Copper Totem, glass sculpture by Preston Singletary, will be part of the Sealaska Heritage Institute's presentation at the Santa Fe Indian Market.
Photo courtesy SHI
Lara Downes
Courtesy of Sitka Music Festival
Robert Masello, author and screenwriter.
Photo courtesy Alaska Writers Guild
Novelist Jackie Ivie Goforth reads quotes about her book "Tender is the Knight."
Stephen Nowers
From left, Christine Harada Li, Alan Tilley, Nathaniel Pierce, Cole Anderson and Siyuan Li perform and teach in the Anchorage Chamber Music Festival.
Photo by Peter Shin

The fledgling Anchorage Chamber Music Festival will start at 7:30 p.m. Monday with a concert at Central Lutheran Church on 15th Avenue. Joining Anchorage violinist Christine Harada Li and her colleagues -- Alan Tilley, Nathaniel Pierce, Siyuan Li and Cole Anderson -- will be the Scott Chamber Players, who are associated with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. The first program will feature work by Mahler, Prokofiev, Chopin and Brahms among others.

A house concert will take place Wednesday and a concert including Shostakovich's Piano Quintet and Brahms' Piano Quartet in G Minor will take place at the Hotel Alyeska 7:30 p.m. Thursday, repeated at the Anchorage Museum 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The musicians will be giving public master classes throughout the week with a program by the students at Central Lutheran at 2 p.m. Saturday. Admission to all events is by a suggested donation of $15, $10 for students. More information is available at and facebook.

Sealaska Heritage Institute to Santa Fe

For the third year, Sealaska Heritage Institute will sponsor a public viewing during the huge Santa Fe Indian Market. The free event will include a display of institute's ethnographic collection and take place at 2 p.m. Thursday in the Gallery Room of the Eldorado Hotel in Santa Fe, N.M. A private reception with glass artist Preston Singletary will take place afterward.

In previous years, the institute has been able to send dancers and provide artist tables, but funding made that impossible this year. Nonetheless, institute president Rosita Worl said the institute had several good reasons for keeping a presence at the long-running Indian Market (90 years and counting).

"We felt it was really important to go to Santa Fe to maintain continuity and to have a presence in the center of Native American art that attracts people who love and prize Native art," she said. Some 100,000 people are expected to attend the two-day event.

With that many collectors in town, Santa Fe presents an excellent opportunity to connect with the international art community and explain the significance of the items in Southeast Alaska Native society.

"Some of them have sacred dimensions to them," Worl said, "and we want to explain to the people that 'Yes, we do have art but it has this cultural meaning as well.' "

In addition, the institute is trying to create an annual art market similar to the Santa Fe event in Juneau. Institute staff will be taking notes on how the Santa Fe market operates. The institute will hold its first art auction, the Tináa Art Auction, next February, and will particularly be observing how the Santa Fe art auction is conducted during the market.

Narwhal expedition

Scientists from Idaho State University charged with making a massive 3-D, online, searchable "taxonomic system for vertebrate analysis" of every single bird, fish and mammal found in the Arctic, got most of what they needed at the Smithsonian Institution and other Lower 48 museums.

But for the mysterious unicorn of the sea, the narwhal, they traveled to the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks.

"We have the only narwhal specimen they could get access to," said the museum's Theresa Bakker, who said the scientists spent several days making high-resolution 3-D scans of bones in the collection. You can check out the results of their labors, part of a National Science Foundation project, at

I find no cases of the spiral-tusked, mauve narwhals preying upon humans, but almost wish there were, since the Latin name, monodon monoceros, means "one tooth, one horn," to which one would be tempted to add, in song, "swimming purple people-eater."

A grant to Kodiak

The Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak is the recipient of a grant from The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. The foundation started by Microsoft co-founder Allen announced 49 grants totalling $6.87 million on Monday. Of that, $35,000 will help support the Alaska museum's "Weaving Traditions" exhibition.

The exhibit was generated by a 2011 trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, by a team of weavers led by museum director Sven Haakanson. They studied historic Aleut and Alutiiq basketry in the collections of that city. When it opens next May it will be accompanied by a paperback book -- also funded by the Allen grant -- documenting the baskets.

Alaska has previously been the beneficiary of the Allen foundation, receiving money for performing arts, cultural activities and social causes. The foundation tends to focus on nonprofit groups in the Pacific Northwest. However a large part of this cycle's money is targeted to help Jane Goodall's African gorilla conservation efforts. Another large grant will pursue human genome research.

Autumn Classics announced

Cellist Zuill Bailey, director of the Sitka Summer Music Festival, and pianist Lara Downes will warm up for this year's Alaska Airlines Autumn Classics chamber music series with programs in Sitka, Juneau and Gustavus, Aug. 30-Sept. 2. The two have been working on an album of music by American composers -- Barber, Bernstein, Gershwin, etc. -- and, in something of a companion presentation, Downes has prepared a recital of work by composers who finished (in some cases made) their careers in foreign countries due to unpleasantness back home. She calls it "The Exiles' Cafe."

Expect to hear plenty from both when they join with the extraordinary guitarist David Leisner for the first weekend of the Anchorage series, Sept. 6-8. Violist Chee-Yun, violist Marcus Thompson (an Autumn Classics veteran) and pianist Natasha Paremsky will team with Bailey for the second weekend, Sept. 13-15. The programs will take place, as usual, at Alaska Pacific University's Grant Hall, except for the one Sept. 15. That will take place at the Hotel Captain Cook as a 25th birthday celebration for KLEF radio and feature a particularly weighty program including the Bach Chaconne, Rachmaninoff's Piano Sonata No. 2 and Dvorak's Piano Quartet in E-flat.

The Winter Classics have also been announced for Feb. 14-16. They will feature a lot of Beethoven and an all-Mendelssohn evening. Musicians will include festival founder Paul Rosenthal and a return visit by pianist Piers Lane. Find out more at

Residencies announced

The Rasmuson Foundation has selected four Lower 48 artists to take part in residencies in Alaska starting Sept. 15 and has announced that it's taking applications for Alaska artists who want to do similar residencies in the Lower 48.

Coming to Alaska will be interactive artist Melissa Daubert, who will be working at the Bunnel Street Arts Center in Homer; creative nonfiction writer Marjorie Gellhorn Sa'adah, at the Island Institute in Sitka; artist Marty Two VBulls, Jr., at the Alaska Native Art Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks; and multi-media artist Marek Ranis at the Anchorage Museum.

Alaska artists who have previously received an Individual Artist Award from Rasmuson Foundation are eligible to apply for one of four residencies in the Lower 48: Zygote Press in Cleveland, Ohio; McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte, N.C.; Santa Fe Art Institute and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside, Calif. Those residencies will take place in 2014 and the deadline to apply is Sept. 15.

Sign up now for Sept. 7-8 writers' conference

The Alaska Writers Guild, in conjunction with The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, will present a conference Sept. 7 and 8 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Anchorage that will feature several authors, agents and other industry professionals. Speakers include agents Deborah Warren and Rubin Pfeffer of East West Literary, New York editor Gary Goldstein of Kensington Press, Los Angeles producer/agent/writer Lisa Cron, journalist/author/television writer Robert Masello and literary agency founder Doug Grad.

Alaska authors Marc Cameron, Deb Vanasse and Jackie Ivie will also be on hand to share what they've learned about how to push a book. (I would particularly pay attention to Ivie, who has figured out a lot of interesting angles involving marketing her various genres.) The cost for both days, which includes a reception, is $250 for guild members, $275 for others. Pre-registration is required. Details at

Kizzia, Ivey on regional best-seller list

Tom Kizzia's "Pilgrim's Wilderness" debuted on the Pacific Northwest Independent Booksellers best-seller list at No. 6 in the hardcover non-fiction category in the report for the week of Aug. 4. Eowyn Ivey's "The Snow Child" returned to the paperback fiction list in position No. 10.

Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.