Arts and Entertainment

Decker leads list of Rasmuson artist awards for 2016

Don Decker, Anchorage artist, teacher and sometimes critic for the Alaska Dispatch News, is the recipient of the Rasmuson Foundation's 2016 Distinguished Artist award. Renaissance man Decker, a former Anchorage ombudsman, gallery owner and the father of Anchorage Museum director Julie Decker, receives an unrestricted prize of $40,000 along with the honor, which recognizes established Alaska artists of stature.

Previous recipients have included poet John Haines, artists Ray Troll and Rie Munoz, master carver Nathan Jackson, weaver Teri Rofkar and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams.

Recipients of other Rasmuson grants to artists, selected from 400 applicants, were also announced this week. The awards will be presented at a private event Thursday, May 19. The additional recipients and their disciplines are as follows:

Fellowship awards ($18,000 each):

Phillip Blanchett, Anchorage, music

Ben Huff, Juneau, photography

Libby Roderick, Anchorage, music


Linda Infante Lyons, Anchorage, art

Melissa Mitchell, Anchorage, music

Keren Lowell, Anchorage, art

Nathan Shafer, Anchorage, new media artist

Karrie Pavish Anderson, Galena, music

Rebecca Lyon, Anchorage, art

Stephen Qacung Blanchett, Anchorage, music

Project awards ($7,500 each):

Tom Chung, Anchorage, art

Emily Anderson, Fairbanks, music

Christy NaMee Eriksen, Juneau, poetry

Chloe Keller, Anchorage, skin craft

Joshua Corbett, Anchorage, photography

Bryan Fierro, Anchorage, screenwriting

Jacqueline Madsen, Kodiak, marionette making

Anna Hoover, Naknek, film

Steven Stone Sr., Hooper Bay, traditional crafts


Jenni May Toro, Anchorage, music

Joe Yelverton, Anchorage, photography

Rebecca Menzia, Fairbanks, music.

Seth Kantner, Kotzebue, writing

Gretchen Sagan, Anchorage, art

Jacinthe TwoBulls, Hydaburg, wearable art

Chad David Benjamin Taylor, Anchorage, installation art

Karl Pasch, Anchorage, music


Patrice Aphrodite Helmar, Juneau, photography

Joan Naviyuk Kane, Anchorage, poetry

Darius Mannino, Tenakee Springs, puppetry

Eric Mouffe, Anchorage, instrument making

Sarah E. Mitchell, Fairbanks, music

Ruby Suzanna Jones, Anchorage, performance art

Keeper Theodore Nott, Anchorage, glass art

Desiree Hagen, Fritz Creek, paper making

New petroglyphs found on Afognak

Archaeologist Patrick Saltonstall recently identified a set of previously undocumented petroglyphs on Afognak Island. The series of a dozen small, circular pits was carved into beach rock over about 4 feet. They were quite faint and Saltonstall, following up on old stories about petroglyphs in the area, wasn't convinced until it started to rain. At that point, they "jumped out."

The Afognak find is the latest of around 1,300 petroglyphs, 600 years old or older, that have been located and catalogued in the Kodiak Archipelago.

Woodcarver send-off


Julia Harrison, a wood carver based in Seattle, Washington, has spent the first two weeks of May as artist-in-residence at the Bunnell Street Gallery in Homer. During her stint, she held "carving klatches" and workshops in soap carving open to all ages and experience levels, provided participants could "safely peel and chop a vegetable without supervision."

Harrison will close out her Homer stay with a closing reception and final sharing at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 14.

Church bells chime

Anchorage Lutheran Church will host the hand bell choir of Concordia University in Irvine, California, in a concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 17. The Concordia bell ringers are considered among the best at their sparkling art form. Anchorage Lutheran's own hand bell choir will join the choir in a concert of sacred music at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 21. Both programs are free, but donations are accepted to help the Concordia group with travel expenses and to benefit Lutheran Social Services of Alaska. The church is located at 1420 N St.

NEA grants announced

The National Endowment for the Arts announced eight awards to Alaska groups in its latest round of funding for art groups around the country. The Alaska recipients include:


Alaska State Council on the Arts, $705,500

Alaska Design Forum, $30,000

Anchorage Museum, $25,000

Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, $15,000

Organized Village of Kasaan, $75,000

University of Alaska Anchorage, $15,000

Sealaska Heritage Institute, Juneau, $110,000

The UAA grant will support the production and tour of David Holthouse's play about child sex abuse, "Stalking the Bogeyman," which is set to tour the state starting next month. Members of the UAA psychology faculty will travel with the performance to present outreach sessions where people can respond to the play.

SHI actually has two grants. The largest, $100,000, is part of the NEA's "Our Town" program, as is the grant to Kasaan. SHI will use the money for the Haa Latseen Community Project, designed to promote strength, resilience and opportunities through the arts in a range of events including traditional woodworking to small business skills and focusing on low-income people and inmates who are transitioning from incarceration to release.

SHI will receive an additional $10,000 to present instruction in traditional formline art.

Literary notes

The release party for the latest issue of Alaska Quarterly Review will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Anchorage Museum. A glossy-paper section in this issue features full-color reproductions of paintings by Kes Woordward and accompanying poems by Peggy Shumaker.

We also have the latest issue of Alaska Women Speak, with stories, poems and photos by 30 or so contributors. The magazine decides each issue to a different theme. For this one, the theme is "Adventures in Foreign Lands." The summer issue will have the theme of "Things Lost (and Found)." Submissions should be emailed to by Sunday, May 15. Find out more at

The release party for "Made of Salmon," an anthology celebrating all things onchorhynchian, will take place at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, May 19, at the UAA Campus Bookstore. Contributors include William L. Iggiagruk Hensley, Don Rearden, Julia O'Malley, Kirsten Dixon, and Carol Sturgulewski. Nancy Lord is the editor of the volume, published by University of Alaska Press. There's free parking at the university and the public is invited to attend.

Last but not least, the final edition of the monthly Poetry Parley until September will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, at Great Harvest Bread Co., 570 E. Benson Blvd. Local poet E.D. Turner will be on hand to read his own work and several silver-tongued reciters will present poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, author of 11 poetry books and a number of children's books. The event is free.

Arts council meets on school grants

The Alaska State Council on the Arts will hold a grant panel meeting for the FY17 Round 1 Artists in Schools program from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday, May 16, at the offices, 161 Klevin St. The meeting is open to the public.

Mike Dunham

Mike Dunham has been a reporter and editor at the ADN since 1994, mainly writing about culture, arts and Alaska history. He worked in radio for 20 years before switching to print.