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'Rarefied Light' juror to present workshops in Anchorage

  • Author: Mike Dunham
  • Updated: May 31, 2016
  • Published June 24, 2015

Susan Burnstine, the juror for the 2015 "Rarefied Light" photo show, will be in Anchorage next month to present her juror's lecture and conduct a workshop.

Burnstine has won awards for fine art and commercial photography, but it's the soft-focus images produced by her hand-made cameras that have caught the attention of critics. The cameras -- she's made 21 of them so far -- are made out of "vintage camera parts and random household objects." They oblige her to "rely on instinct and intuition" and trust "in the unseen."

Her Anchorage talk, "Creative Risk: The Personal Photographic Journey," is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 16, at the Anchorage Museum. Space is still available for the workshop, titled "Defining the Personal Narrative," scheduled for July 17-19. More information can be found at

Fairbanks violinist is 2015 Young Alaska Artist

The Anchorage Festival of Music has selected Zachary Spontak as its 2015 Young Alaska Artist. Violinist Spontak, who received his Bachelor of Music from Rice University this year, was born in Anchorage and raised in Fairbanks, where he won the Fairbanks Symphony Concerto Competition three times and was a member of both the Fairbanks Youth Symphony and the Fairbanks symphony. He was concertmaster of the Alaska All-State Orchestra in 2007 and 2008.

More recently, he's been participating in music festivals from the Rocky Mountains to the Alps, winning first place at the Skokie Valley Symphony Concerto Competition in Chicago and a gold medal in the junior division of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

Spontak will present his solo award recital at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Anchorage. Tickets will become available in early July at and

First Wednesday opening

Most art shows in Anchorage debut on the first Friday of a month, but Marcy Buch will open her exhibit of watercolors at Kaladi Brothers at 3700 Centerpoint Drive. Buch, wife of former state Rep. Bob Buch, says she "fell in love with watercolor" when she took lessons from Don Kolstad at Blaines Art after moving to Anchorage from California in 1973.

She worked for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline company out of Fairbanks ("the only female for a year working with Texans and Okies") and later as a graphic artist in Anchorage. Though she's been doing watercolors, and sometimes oils, for years, this will be her first show.

Buch has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease. Ten percent of all sales will go to the ALS Foundation. The show runs from July 1-31, but the reception will take place at 2 p.m. Friday, July 17.

Septuagenarian blues

Blues man Gary Sloan, formerly of Anchorage but now relocated to Arkansas, is back in town and will give a performance with his sons Jim (guitar) and Gary (bass) at Tap Root Public House, 3300 Spenard Road, starting at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 27. The next day, Sloan Sr. will turn 70. He tells us they'll be playing mostly original songs of the "psychedelic blues/rock" variety.

Sloan has an upcoming CD that will include vintage cuts from live shows in Anchorage and Fairbanks going back to 1966. Some of the tracks feature the talents of Johnny Lee Hooker, Maria Muldaur, Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane fame and Lee Oskar of War.

Hoppy history

Bill Howell of Sterling, author of the Drinking on the Last Frontier blog, has recently released "Alaska Beer: Liquid Gold in the Land of the Midnight Sun" (The History Press). The blurb says the book covers the history of brewing in Alaska from Russian Days to the present. And there's much to cover: Alexander Baranoff made vodka from raspberries; Captain Cook used Alaska spruce tips to flavor his ship-brewed beer; and the first modern brewery in the state, Prinz Brau, somehow managed to go out of business.

Howell teaches one of the University of Alaska's more popular courses, a class in beer appreciation titled "The Art and History of Brewing." He is the founder of the Kenai Peninsula Brewing & Tasting Society and the Alaska correspondent for Northwest Brewing News.

But perhaps his most impressive credential is Beerdrinker of the Year. He earned the title in 2010 at the Wynkoop Brewpub in Denver, winning free beer for life at the mile-high pub and $250 to spend at his favorite establishment, St. Elias Brewing in Soldotna. Howell took top spot not by drinking everyone else under the table -- although that would have been interesting -- but by acing two hours of arcane questions hurled at him by a panel of ranking national beer geeks. We're guessing that he knows what he's talking about.

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