Skip to main Content
Alaska Life

The Anchorage Museum is back, with a monthslong virtual and outdoor festival about life in the north

UAA art professor Tom Chung work on "Ice Cave in Juneau" which is part of a climate change mural being painted on the SEED Lab in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. (Bill Roth / ADN)

What is normally a five-day annual festival has turned into a multi-discipline, monthslong event examining transitions and uncertainties of life in the north against the backdrop of pandemic.

Anchorage Museum has hosted North x North, a festival that explores northern culture and innovation, each year since 2017. In April, the festival was canceled due to the pandemic, and the museum temporarily shut its doors to the public, closing for three of the last six months.

Now, the museum is open four days a week with reduced hours and the North X North festival is back — with some changes. There will be a number of outdoor installations and nearly 100 virtual programs, from workshops to artist talks and group panels.

“The museum is a place where we have been highly focused on having people gather and convene and have conversations in person, and North x North has been a big part of that annually,” museum director Julie Decker said.

A temporary art installation outside the Anchorage Museum, ’Shelter/Refuge ’, features images made by artists working in and depicting Northern landscapes wrapped on structures made by artist Marek Ranis from local timbers, some of which show damage from forest fires, photographed on Sept. 25, 2020. (Emily Mesner / ADN)

The festival now spans three months. The month of September will explore ideas of shelter and refuge; October will examine landscapes, including cultural, political and natural. A November program has yet to be shared on the museum’s website, although the theme has been dubbed “intersectional self.”

“We started working with artists and others to think about, what does it mean to have shelter? What does it mean to seek refuge? And I think that feels especially poignant right now as we all have been sheltered due to COVID,” Decker said.

The museum started the Alaska Mural Project, where local artists install murals across downtown from now until summer of 2021, in conjunction with Anchorage Downtown Partnership. The SEED Lab is also getting a makeover this month, thanks to Thomas Chung and his advanced painting students.

The museum is launching a podcast — Chatter Marks by Cody Liska — dedicated to exploring the state’s identity through critical thinking of the past, present and future. There will be a virtual journal penned with the same name.

Decker says the Discovery Center is open but with capacity limits and reservations required. Muse Restaurant is still closed. See anchoragemuseum.org for schedule updates and details.

North x North 2020

SEPTEMBER: ‘Shelter’

Thursday, Sept. 24

Groundwork: Extremely Slow Walk — Simonetta Mignano, co-founder and director of contemporary art gallery Bivy, will guide this 45-minute practice that focuses on the physical connection between your feet and the ground beneath. The walk is part of Groundwork, a research project by Mignano that investigates ways of connecting with the land in an urban area in the era of climate change. Free. 6-6:45 p.m. on the museum lawn.

Friday, Sept. 25

Failure, Understanding, Care & Kunst: Manifestos as an Artist’s Working Tool — Curators Ruth Aitken and James S. Lee will present The Arctic Agency for Environmental Research Methodologies and Artistic Practice, an arts and community project originally from Folkeparken, Tromsø, Norway. The project is based in a 1960s caravan. Free. 10 a.m. online.

Film on the Lawn: “Woman at War” — Pack your blankets and folding chairs for a movie night on the museum lawn. This feature film follows the story of a 50-year-old woman who leads a double life as a passionate environmental activist who takes on the aluminum industry. But as she begins to plan her biggest undertaking, she receives a letter that changes everything. $5. 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 29

Virtual Urban Harvest: Fermentation at home with Sandor Katz — Join James Beard Award winner Sandor Katz as he shares the history and science behind vegetable fermentation. Discover how Alaska Natives and those in the north rely on fermentation as a way of food preservation and which of your favorite foods are likely fermented. $10, members receive 10% discount. Noon-1 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 30

Places of the Mind Framed by the World: A Virtual Artist Talk with Kaija Kiuru — Finnish artist Kaija Kiuru will join staff from the Rovaniemi Art Museum for a discussion about the artist’s most recent project. Kiuru’s work involves sculpture, installation and photography, which often involves the relationship between the natural world and mankind. From groves of trees to tents, potential shelters emerge in her work often, following the museum’s September theme. Free. Noon-1 p.m. online.

OCTOBER: ‘Landscape’

Friday, Oct. 2

First Friday Film on the Lawn: ‘Gray Matters’ — Social distance on the museum lawn and watch a documentary about the long, fascinating life and complicated career of architect and designer Eileen Gray. Free, sign-up required. 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 4

Pièces de Résistance: Amy Hempel and Stuart Dybeck — This fall series features notable poets and novelists hosted online and presented by Alaska Quarterly Review. Join Amy Hempel and Stuart Dybekis as they discuss their extensive collections of creative writing, poetry and nonfiction. Free. 3-4 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 2-10

Anchorage Design Week: Future Landscapes — Online presentations, discussions, workshops, films and more await during Anchorage Design Week, a nine-day forum with 15 events in collaboration with Alaska Design Forum and AIGA Alaska. Varying times Oct. 2-10, in person and online.

Wednesday, Oct. 14

What Protects You? A Workshop with Artist Nina Elder — Join Albuquerque-based artist Nina Elder in this online format dedicated to rethinking a stream of consciousness list. Elder presents her work on how list making opens up opportunities for new perspective and self-reflection. Free. 4 p.m. online.

Thursday, Oct. 15

Our Orchestra: Adventures in Listening with Artist and Musician Stuart Hyatt — Join Grammy-nominated artist and musician Stuart Hyatt for this interactive, online session on music creation. Hyatt is currently working with the museum on his project, Remote Hymns, which highlights Alaska’s distinct subterranean sounds. The project will result in a musical album, book, short film and unique “earth listening station” at the museum. Free. 1-2 p.m.

Inner Landscapes: A Walk with Simonetta Mignano — Join Simonetta Mignano for the second guided-walk, visualizing inner landscapes as you go. This silent practice will occur in the atrium or on the lawn, depending on weather. Free. 6-6:45 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 17

Site-Specific Cameras: Workshop with David Janesko and Adam Donnelly — Learn how to create a camera body from rocks, wood, seaweed, shell, bone and other materials from David Janesko and Adam Donnelly, who photograph landscapes with cameras built on-site for pinhole camera creation. The workshop will also provide a virtual screening of Janesko and Donnelly’s work in the Rio Grande Rift Valley. Free. 10 a.m.-noon. Online.

Monday, Oct. 19

Learning from Nature: A Design Conversation with Rebeca Mendez and Matthew Jull — Designers will examine ideas of landscape, refuge and shelter through this open conversation. Free. Noon, online.

Wednesday, Oct. 21

A Mapmaker’s Pen: A Writing Workshop with Corinna Cook — Discover sample essays that treat maps as art and essays that use maps to expand into metaphor. Free. 4 p.m.

Seeding Repair & Reuse: A Skill Share with Amy Meissner — Master how to prolong the cloth of home, from blankets to rugs and towels and sheets. Discover how to patch holes with frayed seams or reinforce bindings for each project. Free. 6:30-8:30 p.m. online.

Thursday, Oct. 22

Alaska River Time Almanac Workshop — Join artist Jonathon Keats as he guides participants through the process of constructing a monthly river almanac for this workshop, part of the SEED LAB Alaska River Time Project. Free. 6-7:30 p.m. online.

[Because of a high volume of comments requiring moderation, we are temporarily disabling comments on many of our articles so editors can focus on the coronavirus crisis and other coverage. We invite you to write a letter to the editor or reach out directly if you’d like to communicate with us about a particular article. Thanks.]

Sponsored