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First Friday art openings take off as fall comes to Anchorage

Mike Dunham
“Kukak Delta,” by Carl Johnson
Photo courtesy of the artist Carl Johnson
“Stairs to the Sky” in Namibia from Mary Katzke's “World School.”
Photos courtesy of the artist
“Metal Umbrella,” by Don Decker
Don Decker
“Thai Water Reflections” from Mary Katzke's “World School.”
Photo courtesy of the artist
“Winter Summer,” by Don Decker.
Photo courtesy Don Decker
Encaustic painting by Gayla Ranf.
Painting by Gayla Ranf
Jules Wolfe, Deanna Teders and Gayla Ranf
Photo courtesy Blue.Holloman Gallery
“Let's Talk,” by Dot Tideman.
Dot Tideman
“Buoyed Bayou, Fox Island Buoys,” watercolor by Jules Wolfe
Photos courtesy Blue.Holloman Gallery
“Floating,” stoneware, porcelain, earthenware by Annette Bellamy
Photos courtesy Annette Bellamy

Not that we haven't seen some noteworthy art shows this summer, but interest in exhibits seems to heat up as the outside temperature cools off. Though fall won't technically arrive for another four weeks, it has become something of a tradition to treat the first Friday after Labor Day as the official start of Alaska's autumn arts season.

In support of that tradition, a number of shows opening on Sept. 6, most with receptions that evening, have caught our attention. Here's a look at a few of them.

Artist: Don Decker

Venue: International Gallery of Contemporary Art, 427 D St.

Longtime Anchorage School District art teacher Don Decker will have work in all of the spaces at the gallery this month. The title of his exhibit, "50/50," reflects his half-century as an educator and artist. Since the 1960s he's created paintings, sculptures, collages, videos, installations and performance art, owned a gallery, curated shows.

"I don't contend that longevity is a virtue, since I value quality much more than quantity," says Decker, who is also a clear-eyed essayist and art critic. "It has been a long process through which I have made mistakes, and continue to learn."

There's new work included in the show, which Decker notes "is meant to be a brief look back and not an ending."

Artist: Mary Katzke

Venue: Hugi-Lewis Studio, 1008 W. Northern Lights Blvd.

For her son Corin's fifth grade year, filmmaker Mary Katzke joined him on a global tour of 28 countries. Corin attended classes in several of the countries and they made it a point to eat locally. Katzke's movie about the event will debut at Bear Tooth Theatrepub on Sept. 16. For the moment, she's showing photos taken during the trip in the exhibit she calls "World School."

Katzke says she hopes the film and the photos will show "parents and children how traveling can be an amazing education for all ages ... it seeks to inspire more families to 'take the leap and go travel for a gap year.' "

Artist: K N Goodrich

Venue: Leah J. Peterson Gallery at Alaska Pacific University's Carr-Gottstein Building

"The Lighthouse Inn, Abandoned" features new pastel paintings by K N Goodrich, which continues an interest in photo-based painting that she's pursued over the past few years.

"The work in this exhibit has grown out of my experiences with a plein air painting group," she says. In conjunction with that work, she took photos of sites that were later used to create studio work. She also got a motor home, the better to run around the state in search of art-worthy subjects.

"I found the Lighthouse Inn in Nikiski in the summer of 2012," she says. "I've returned to the site three or four times in different seasons to get a complete portrait of the building's exteriors. I have never been inside the building."

She tried to find stories about the deserted structure, but didn't turn up much, which she takes philosophically. Her work suggests "the lost narrative," she says, "seeking a story from the veiled evidence that remains and hoping to find the beauty that remains in the midst of such loss."

Laura Faeo will have fanciful work in the Grant Hall gallery space next door.

Artists: Jules Wolfe, Gayla Ranf and Deanna Teders

Venue: Blue.Hollomon Gallery, 3555 Arctic Blvd.

The title of the show, "Water, Wax & Threads," describes the media used by the trio featured this month.

Girdwood watercolorist Jules Wolfe, a regular in shows hosted by the Alaska Watercolor Society, is particularly known for flora and fauna. Gayla Ranf uses encaustic wax techniques. And fiber artist Deanna Teders has taken her skill at recovering worn furniture and turned it into display art -- though the press release notes "she couldn't resist redesigning with new materials on a very special ottoman" for this show.

Artist: Carl Johnson

Venue: Snow City Cafe, 1034 W. Fourth Ave.

Photographer Carl Johnson has returned from the Bristol Bay region with a "series of portraits" -- but not necessarily of people. "Where Water is Gold" includes feature shots of nature "highlighting the connections between fish, moose, bears, people and the land." The photographer hopes viewers will see "the natural beauty that is Bristol Bay."

The opening will include a silent auction to raise money for Trustees for Alaska.

Artist: Annette Bellamy

Venue: Anchorage Museum, 625 C St.

Clay artist Annette Bellamy has her first solo show at the Anchorage Museum with "Floating," a collection that suggests marine and nautical images in the weighty medium of earth. She also takes a stab at fish skin sculpture in at least one piece -- "the material of her livelihood," notes a press release. Bellamy, of Halibut Cove, has worked in the commercial fishing business.

The artist will give a "casual teen program" at 6:30 p.m. and answer questions in the gallery from 7 to 9 p.m. First Friday admission to the museum is free and, as a bonus, Melissa Bledsoe Fischer will perform jazz at the Muse cafe during the event.

Artist: Denise Ekstrand

Venue: Sevigny Studios, 6078 W. Fourth Ave.

Speaking of music, singer-songwriter Laura Oden will perform during the opening for Denise Ekstrand's show. The artist has fun with Alaska's animals in a series of original watercolors. "A K High -- The Yearbook" depicts critters "dressed in stereotypical personas from our high school days." Also on display, jewelry by Jessica Brunsting of Houghton Hill Jewelry.

Artists: Various

Venue: The Alaska Native Arts Foundation Gallery, 500 W. Sixth Ave.

Several Alaska Native designers were asked to create garments with some connection to water. The result, "The Water Collection," debuted at the Clare to Clare Fashion Show fundraiser earlier this year. The clothing is now on display in this show.

Artist: Marilyn Miller

Venue: Aurora Fine Art, 737 W. Fifth Ave.

Multi-media artist Marilyn Miller displays new raku-fired clay pieces inspired by the great river systems of Alaska in "A River Runs Through."

Artists: Rod Weagant and Susan Lindsey

Venue: Artique Ltd., 314 G St.

The two artists show plein air and studio works in oil.

Artist: Dot Tideman

Venue: L'Aroma Bakery, 9900 Old Seward Highway

Longtime Seward artist presents "real and unreal" art in a show titled "The Tide is In."

More art shows are listed at and will be included in Friday's edition of Play.

Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.


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