Art Nights in Alaska

Haines is said to have more artists per capita than any town in Southeast Alaska. On Friday April 1st, the creative spirit of Haines was clearly demonstrated as artists, artisans, craftsmen and members of the public gathered for the unveiling of an exhibit compiled by renowned scrimshaw artist Heidi Robichaud.

The exhibit, which is sponsored by the Alaska Art Confluence, consists of four panels of photographs of local wood products highlighting logging, milling, manufacturing and finished goods, as well as examples of wood crafts and information about the importance of various tree species in the area.  

All those who attended the unveiling at the Art on Main Street office were united in their celebration of the importance of wood to the community of Haines. Craftsmen included Scott Carey, a timber framer who uses locally sourced sitka spruce in his construction, which focuses on mortise and tenon techniques. Sitka spruce is ideal for construction because it doesn’t need a lot of drying time and is a strong and durable wood. The resulting framing is beautiful.

Next door to the exhibit, in Stepping Stones Studios, local artist Katie Craney unveiled her new pieces series of paintings called “Melt,” which draw attention to global warming.   

“Alaska is warming,” Craney says, as she talks about her art with quiet intensity.  Craney has been experimenting with a variety of materials in her many layered works, including ink, gauze, tissue paper and metal. Aluminium flakes, similar to gold leaf, which are reflective, are added to the paintings.

Craney’s message about global warming is, “We are all in it together, and we need to come together to figure it out.”  

Craney’s hope is that the viewer will see that they are part of the problem or part of the solution.

Local cabinet maker John Carlson was also in attendance. He explained that he uses locally grown birch in the construction of the cabinets he builds. He starts with the raw logs, has them cut, then dries them for two years before hand crafting them into cabinets.

Also featured in the exhibit

Artisan Sean Bryant, whose beautiful bowl which he fashioned from birch, was also featured in the exhibit.  Bryant described the wood as spalted birch, and explained that a fungus gives the wood distinct colouration resulting in a beautiful and unique piece.  The birch trees in Southeast Alaska are generally darker in colour than those found in other parts of Alaska, and the centre of the tree is darker.  Living in a small community for Bryant, means that others are aware of his interest in odd patterns or cool pieces of wood.  

Bryant said that he liked making functional things and that working with wood provided a surprise factor.  “You never know what you will find inside a tree,” explained Bryant, “and you hope you can turn it into something beautiful.”  

Bryant takes his craft seriously, and some of his beautiful pieces are on display and for sale in Stepping Stones Studios.

This First Friday Event titled Chilkat Valley Wood Products Locally Grown Locally Made, is the latest edition of these events which started in February of 2015.  First Friday is not just an opportunity for community building, but gives people a chance to experience art, and speak with local artists, and enjoy the downtown in a social setting.  The show will run to the end of July, and then will be moved to the S. E. Alaska State Fair Grounds.   The exhibit is located at the Art on Main Street office, which is 217 Main Street, Haines.  The exhibit can be viewed from the sidewalk.  There are also 23 windows with art of various kinds displayed in them.  For more information: or contact Carol Tuynman at 907-314-0282.

Mark your calendar.  The next First Friday event will take place in Haines, Alaska on May 6th and will continue exploring the wood theme.  

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