Thursday, August 16, 2007

Art in Anchorage, Alaska

Fishing Poles in Anchorage, AlaskaBecause 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!

Wyland Whaling Wall in Anchorage, Alaska2. 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.

Anchorage Museum Sculpture3. 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 CaptainResolution Point in Anchorage, Alaska 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.Ice Sculptures in Anchorage, Alaska [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.

Whale Sculpture in Anchorage, Alaska6. 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.

Salmon Sculpture in Anchorage, Alaska7. 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.

Salmon in Anchorage, Alaska8. 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.

Totems in Anchorage, Alaska10. 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 . . .

Whale Bones in Anchorage, Alaska11. 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?

The Last Blue Whale in Anchorage, Alaska12. 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.

Fountain at Loussac Library in Anchorage, Alaska13. 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.

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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.

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28 comments:

WendyWings said...

Wow some of those are amazing, I would love to see the Northern lights some day ( the real ones as well as the art piece.) have a great Thursday

elaine said...

These are awesome. If I ever come to Anchorage, I want to see them all. I love public art. Thanks for the photos and the list.

Shannon said...

I love the salmon sculpture. I will visit there someday, Like Wendywings I want to see the Northern lights. :)

Damozel said...

EXCELLENT! My brother lived in Anchorage for three years, but back in those days I just didn't have the wherewithal to visit him and I STILL regret it. Thanks for these photos and the information about each one. I'm a bit fan of public art.

I like the pointy red things best! Maybe they're salmon too?

la bellina mammina said...

Love the pics, especially the ones of the whales!

crazy working mom said...

Beautiful!

samulli said...

*Sigh*
I am not exactly an expert of art in general, but I like public art, sculptures and that kind of stuff - and you just gave me 13 more reasons to feel sad that I don't have the money to travel right now. I'd love to see Alaska some day (hopefully not too far in the future), and Anchorage seems like a good place to start. ;o)

Robin said...

I love imagery you use to describe the pointy things as guests at a party. And someday I'd love to go to an ice sculpture exhibition somewhere.

Gill said...

What a fascinating post. I agree with wendywings - I would so love to see the Northern Lights, but I'm a Southern Hemisphere gal, so not much chance of that happening for the forseeable future - in the meantime, I'm looking forward to your post about them :-)

Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said...

Those are some amazing pieces of art - thank you so much for sharing those with us! :)

Coach J said...

I've seen the WW50 in Atlanta, but had no idea it was #50 in a larger list of Whale Art. Thanks for the info!

Gattina said...

Wow, there are quite a lot of very interesting and nice things to see ! I learned again something more !

jchevais said...

Your local monuments all look kind of pointy and dangerous...

Heather said...

Beautiful!! I especially like the blue whale with the ripples. There isn't much in the way of public art in my small town, but if you look at the water tower in just the right light... nope... no art here. LOL!
Thanks for the gorgeous tour of your city!

Kendra said...

what an interesting TT list! i even see some sunshine in those photos... it's not overcast all the time is it?!

Jeremy said...

You just neverthink of Alaska as having large amounts of green grass. Great and informative post. Happy tt

Daisy said...

I enjoy looking around me for art, both natural and human-created. Now that you've inspired me, I think I'll grab my camera next time I'm wandering about town doing errands. It'll make the day more fun!

Dana said...

Cool artwork. A little more interesting than our bikes all over Lincoln!

Heather said...

there's a whaling wall near me, in philadelphia.

http://www.wylandfoundation.org/whalingWalls/whalingWalls_detail.cfm?WhalingWalls_ID=48&WhalingWalls_number=42&WhalingWallsImages_ID=51

it's neat. thanks for sharing your town.

Thea said...

Nice list, I love the cemetery one. Beautiful and eery all at the same time...

I left a gift for you on my last post...

Lei said...

Those are some really spectacular sculptures! I love cities that use them... Austin has hardly any. :(

Darla said...

Oh, that's wonderful! I'd love to come for a visit.

Marie N. said...

Thank you for posting -- these are treasures.

Natalie said...

I would love to visit and see all of those things. Maybe one day.

Great photos!

Rebecca said...

The artist who carved the two totem poles is John Wallace. He has a work shop south of Ketchikan and is one of the premier totemic carves. (you can visit it and watch him work if you're in the area) Typically a Sitka cedar totem pole is commissioned for $1,000-$3,000 per foot (plus cost of shipping which is alot for two 8 foots poles.) The Raw cedar log alone for those poles probably cost around $10,000. - A master carver like Wallace makes around $60,000 a year finishing two to three commisions a year. -Luke Nichols

Ingrid said...

Thanks for sharing those pictures. I enjoyed this post very much.

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

hi michelle: i love that you included the fishing poles and the fountain at the library, too. i really like those.

~happy Sabbath, kathleen

ps. hope this sunday was better for you than last.

Damselfly said...

Sigh. I hope to visit and see these things some day.

I have seen the other Wylands in the Florida Keys and in Homosassa, Florida. There is also a mural in Destin, Florida, that is very similar but wasn't listed on the site, so maybe that one is a copy.