Because Anchorage is a stopping spot between Asia and North America there's a larger arts and cultural element than you would normally find in a city this size. Here's a tour of my favorite pieces of outdoor art around town--things that beautify the city and make us look a little classier than we actually are. You can click on any photo to see it enlarged.
1. Fishing poles. Located on the overpass on 15th Avenue downtown these fishing poles become hanging baskets each summer. Form following function--I love it!
2. Wyland mural. Painted on the side of J.C. Penneys downtown it was created by Wyland who's chosen to do what has worked for Michaelangelo, Raphael and Cher and go by only his first name. He came to town as the first stop on his "Whaling Wall Tour" in 1994 (you can see the other murals here) so I'm including it for old time's sake. It's not really my style of art but my boys love the whales. For 500 bonus points, can you name the kind of whale? I'm the mother of a future marine biologist so I'm aware of those kinds of things.
3. The pointy things at the Anchorage Museum. I don't know what they're called or who made them but they look kind of fun to me. Kind of like an old-fashioned heat register or something. They make me think of groups of people at a party, leaning in toward each other as they talk.
4. Resolution Point. Okay, quick history lesson here. The Resolution was Captain Cook's ship and Captain Cook gets credit for "discovering" Anchorage, hence the name Cook Inlet, bestowed on the body of water next to which our fair city is settled. To be accurate, however, Captain Cook never made it this far up the inlet, having instead given the job of exploring to William Bligh (yes, of Mutiny on the Bounty fame) and supposedly grumbled about the whole experience in his journal because he'd been hoping to find the mysterious Inside Passage and had been foiled yet again in his attempt. Resolution Point has a bronze statue of Cook staring out to sea and though he never made it to Anchorage it's one of the prettiest places on the coast and a wonderful place to view the inlet. The statue of Cook is Anchorage's own Statue of Liberty, visitors can climb up stairs on the inside of the 300-foot statue and view the inlet from windows in Cook's wig. [Pause to see if anyone believes me]. Okay not really, but wouldn't THAT be something? I mean that would bring the tourists in droves. Maybe the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce out to consider something like that. But for now, he's about life-sized.
5. Ice Sculptures. In the winter ice sculptors come out of hibernation with chain saws in hand to beautify the city with their craft--and let me tell you, there's more on display than just your pretty ice swans. This sail fish was carved back in February and was about 12 feet tall. Very beautiful and very impressive.
6. The Whales. I love this sculpture because it's just a clever idea--who would have thought of a pod of whales racing along A Street? Heh, it's clever. I was only able to capture two of them but there are about half a dozen that look as if they're racing along, breaching through the grass. My kids think they look fun to climb on.
7. The Salmon. The same can be said for this sculpture which I like almost as much as the last. Whales are just cooler than salmon, that's all.
8. Other Salmon. But speaking of salmon, a bunch of artists in town got together and made life-sized salmon sculptures and then stuck the salmon on poles all over the downtown area like some big spawning ground. They're here and there and are each different and rather interesting. Here's a photo of one in front of the Performing Arts Center fountain and you'll have to click on it to enlarge it in order to actually see the salmon in question. Sorry for the poor photo, I never claimed to be an artist myself.
9. The Northern Lights. My children go to Northern Lights school and in front of the school is a sculpture representing the Northern Lights. It's really a fun piece because it lights up in the winter darkness and glows like the Aurora Borealis, changing colors from pink to green to purple just as the real northern lights do. I'll have to do a post about the northern lights this winter because when they're putting on a show (from around October through March) it's something to see.
10. Totems. These particular totems sit in front of the courthouse on 4th Avenue downtown--right about the place where the Hot Dog Guy sells his famous reindeer hot dogs that taste so heavenly (yea, that's a separate post). If any of you out there are in need of a little extra cash and are handy with a chainsaw, Andrew told me that the state paid $60,000 for these little babies. Unsure whether that's the price for both or per totem but regardless, that's serious money for a carved log with some paint on it. I mean, don't get me wrong, I think they're beautiful but it does seem a tad pricey for what you're getting doesn't it? My brother carved small totems in high school and his were just as pretty. Maybe I should forget blogging and take up totem carving . . .
11. Whale bones. I hope you can see this picture well enough, you're looking through the iron fence that surrounds the Municipal Cemetery in downtown Anchorage at a set of whale rib bones sticking up above a grave. I don't know if this qualifies as art or not but I've always thought they were beautiful--white and stark against the green as if they were standing guard--and a little mysterious. It's as if the cemetery feels like a whale's graveyard or something rather spooky like that. There's an interesting explanation surrounding the bones: many Native Alaskans are Quaker--Christian missionaries went to which Alaskan villages in the last century and in villages where Quakers had success there are still practicing Native Alaskan Quakers today. However, Quakers consider headstones to be idolatrous and instead use natural markers such as the whale ribs to mark the graves of their loved ones. Interesting, huh?
12. The Last Blue Whale. This bronze statue sits outside the Carr-Gottstein building downtown and depicts a blue whale and a small whaling boat about to capsize in the waves above. An interesting tribute to Alaska's whaling history as seen from the whale's perspective and quite famous around town here.
13. The fountain at the Loussac Library. This probably gets my vote for greatest piece of art in Anchorage because in the summer it's a beautiful, flower-encircled fountain, spraying water twenty feet into the air and in the winter it becomes an ice sculpture, twisted and frozen like an Arctic landscape. I find that clever and pretty.
Have you entered the Write-Away Contest this month? The topic is collections and it's going to be great--The Moose's Tooth has given me a genuine Moose's Tooth t-shirt as this month's prize.
Technorati tags: Thursday Thirteen, art, Anchorage, Alaska, whales