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Mike Dunham

Playwrights everywhere nurture the same dream: to see a live performance of their work. So when Out North decided to stage a production of his full-length historical drama "The Black Cockerel," Waisu Ademola Bello was elated.

Elation became consternation when, a few weeks before the show's opening, he was arrested for having overstayed his visa and sent to a detention center in Tacoma to face possible deportation.

Now out on bond, he reflected Thursday on how he got in such a situation and described a convoluted, troubled path stretching from Africa to Alaska...

Mike Dunham

Ever wanted to take a long cruise down the Yukon? Join Athabascan master artist Daisy Demientieff on her 750-mile trip to gather materials for traditional birch bark and split willow root baskets.

You won't even get wet, because the whole thing's on film.

A new documentary, "A Beautiful Journey," about Demientieff and her work will debut Wednesday at the Anchorage Museum with a reception at 6 p.m., screening at 7 p.m. If you miss that, it'll re-debut on Friday at the Alaska Native Heritage Center; again, reception at 6 p.m., show at 7...

Mike Dunham

The public will be able to tour the newly expanded Anchorage Museum for free today, following grand reopening ceremonies and a ribbon-cutting scheduled to start at noon.

The expansion includes new space for the museum's cafe, gift shop and archives on the first floor. The third floor will host visiting exhibits, with "Gold" from the American Museum of Natural History on display through Aug. 2. A fourth floor is showcasing photos and maps detailing the expansion process.

The museum was closed for the past two months as the new wing was completed. Most of it will also reopen today, including the Atrium, the Alaska Gallery of history on the second floor and the Art of the North Galleries on the first floor...

Mike Dunham

Stepping into the "Gold" exhibit at the Anchorage Museum, you might feel like Aladdin as he entered the Cave of Wonders. The walls are dark, but everything inside glows as if it were alive. Among the first wonders you encounter is a sparkling natural nugget, about as long as a human hand, shaped like a gentle "S."

"Big nuggets are usually named for their shape," said Suzi Jones, the museum's deputy director. "This one's called 'The Seahorse.' "

It also resembles a dollar sign, making it a good symbol for the two key attributes of gold: beauty and wealth...

Mike Dunham

Sam Maloof, whose simple and practical wood furniture was prized by connoisseurs, has died at the age of 93. The Los Angeles Times reported that Maloof, who lived briefly in Alaska before he became famous, died at his home in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., May 21.

Born in Chico, Calif., to Lebanese immigrant parents, Jan. 24, 1916, Maloof's artistic side showed up while he was still a child, obsessed with carving and calligraphy. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II and was stationed in the Aleutians, where the military put his talent to use making detailed drawings of gun emplacements.

In 1949 he began his lifelong career of handcrafting furniture. He did not follow plans and his pieces were assembled without metal parts, including hinges or nails...

Mike Dunham

'I've lost eight pounds in the past two weeks," said James Pepper Henry, as he was loping up the four stories of stairs in the unfinished addition to the Anchorage Museum. Pepper Henry, director and CEO of the museum, has been in near-constant motion for the past several months as work on the facility's expansion program rolls toward completion...

Mike Dunham

The 19th Annual Winners Recital by singers receiving scholarships from the Anchorage Concert Chorus took place Saturday night at the UAA Arts Building Recital Hall. The winners were:

Zachary Milliman, 1st place, College Division ($750); Amy Horstman, 2nd place, College Division ($500); Dean Shannon, 3rd place, College Division ($300). Both big-voiced Horstman and Shannon, who seemed to be fighting a cold, hail from the University of Alaska Fairbanks' music department, and Shannon is previously from Healy. Those two singers also won awards in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Alaska competition...

Mike Dunham

The best of the best -- and bushiest of the bushy -- have descended on Anchorage this week for a man-to-man competition that draws bristly competitors from around the world. Fuzz fans eagerly await tomorrows main event to see who comes out on top.

Elmar Weisser of Germany, two-time full beard freestyle world champion?

Up-and-comer Gunnar Rosenquist of Sweden, whose super-gnome whiskers have propelled him through the ranks in the full beard natural category?

Austria's Franz "Schani" Mitterhauser has won awards in the Beard Olympics, Superbeard, International German and European Championships?...

Mike Dunham

Teri Rofkar of Sitka, renowned for her Tlingit weaving and basketry, is among the 11 2009 National Heritage Fellows announced by the National Endowment for the Arts last week. The NEA National Heritage Fellowships are considered America's highest award for traditional folk arts and crafts. Recipients are sometimes referred to as "living cultural treasures." The honor comes with a $25,000 prize.

"I'm still kind of numb from the fact it happened," Rofkar said. "The money couldn't have come at a better time. It's tough to be a traditional artist in this financial climate. It allows me to continue doing what I'm doing. It means I don't have to start cleaning houses for a living."...

Mike Dunham

Nathan Jackson of Ketchikan, best known for his totem poles and other Tlingit-style carvings, received the 2009 Rasmuson Foundation Distinguished Artist Award on Friday at ceremonies at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts in Anchorage. The honor includes a grant of $25,000.

At the same event, the Foundation also announced Eight Artist Fellowship Awards of $12,000 in unrestricted funds to: Tlingit weavers Anna Brown Ehlers (Juneau) and Teri Rofkar (Sitka), writers Nick Jans (Juneau), Andromeda Romano-Lax (Anchorage) and Catherine Rexford (Anchorage). Alutiiq carver Peter Lind Sr. (Homer), puppeteer Bryne Power (Haines) and folk artist Donald Varnell (Ketchikan).

Seventeen Artist Project grants of up to $5,000 each were also announced, going to:...

Mike Dunham