Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Art in The Park: No Butts About It

     Here's a snapshot of a little detail that caught my eye while visiting with a friend in Denali: a special cartoon drawn by the legendary William Berry. Although this was a photocopy from the original 1977 drawing, the signature style of his work is still evident in even a doodle. Among the pantheon of Alaskan artists Berry ranks highest in my book. You can also help support the Library Foundation by purchasing a poster of his iconic mural of Alaskan Fairy Tales which is displayed in the Berry Room of the Noel Wien Public Library in Fairbanks.

Amy Reisland-Speer : "Incoming Summer Storm"

     And that aforementioned friend, Amy Reisland-Speer (a former classmate in the UAF Art Department) also had some of her work on-site, along with on-line examples (she also has an exhibition at the Fairbanks Community Museum this month). I find that local folks who are immersed in the environment often have a more intimate connection which is reflected in their work. Almost as crucial of an aesthetic factor as skill with the medium, paintings that retain evidence of expressive individuality, a personal interpretation as opposed to simple reflection, resonate deeper with me, especially after spending any length of time out there hiking in the subject matter. I already know what it looks like, what I respond to on a visceral level is what it looks-like-it-feels-like. 
     All this as opposed to the massive, contrasting effort seen in the main visitor's center for the National Park*. Though not the work of any individual artist, this 9k square-foot diorama created by Split Rock Studios shows a more clinically illustrative and educational approach. A detailed and complex project on this scale typically calls for the logistical services of a large company. Though as a side-note, there exists solo Alaskan artists of comparable caliber who create epic pieces on this same scale: this mural reminded me of the superlative work of Heidi Hahn.

  * Special mention must also be made of the Artist-in-Residence program at Denali National Park.

Only thing missing were some strategically placed nuggets.

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