PUBLISHED: 1:17 PM on Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Capturing the memory of Mendenhall Glacier

  Sharron Lobaugh, member of the Juneau Artist Gallery is challenged to preserve her memory of the Mendenhall Glacier before it slips away.
Sharron Lobaugh, renowned Juneau artist and member of the Juneau Artist Gallery is challenged to preserve her memory of the Mendenhall Glacier before it slips away.

"Arriving in Juneau over 40 years ago, the most profound visual impact on me was the Mendenhall Glacier. Its moves, moods, chills, thrills and blues melted my heart and influenced my art forever," she said.

As the gallery's featured artist for November, Lobaugh will be sharing six new pieces done this year, one new giclee print and a large oil painting of an iceberg completed in the year 2002.

Before the Visitor Center was built, an old Powerhouse building was at the end of the graveled road.

The face of the glacier hid the outlet of Nugget Creek and the ice completely covered the West Glacier side all the way down to the current lake. Many artists painted at the Glacier over the years.

Lobaugh recalls good times with other Juneau artists and some laughs too.

"Once while painting with another artist, my friend became frustrated and quit suddenly crying out, 'I lost my place,'" she said.

One of her watercolors of Mendenhall Glacier painted in the mid 1970's was accepted as the only watercolor in the Alaskan Smithsonian Exhibit in Washington DC.

Lobaugh has painted ice from the Mendenhall in watercolor and oils over and over, year after year as it disappears into the ice field.

Today, it has become less intriguing from an artists perspective at the base of the glacier so Lobaugh flew up in a helicopter with Glacier Trekking in July to try painting from the top.

She was able to capture one fleeting moment before clouds surrounded her with fog.

"It didn't work too well, though it was a beautiful weather, the ice froze my fingers and toes too quickly."

But it didn't deter her from painting entirely. A piece larger than the Federal Building calved during the one week of good weather.

Several days in July, Lobaugh hauled her paints and paper to the water's edge to sketch the big berg as it slowly melted into the river.

One scene captures Juneau kids swimming in ponds with the glacier behind.

Lobaugh received a BFA from Washington State University before moving to Juneau in 1962. Lobaugh served on the first Alaska State Council on the Arts. In 1967, she coordinated the juried Alaska Centennial Art Exhibit which traveled to 22 sites in Alaska and Seattle. She taught art at high school and university levels and conducted watercolor workshops in Alaska and Canada.

Collections with her work include: the City and Borough of Juneau; University of Alaska- SE and UAF; Alaska Pacific University; the Alaska State Museum; the Alaska Council on the Arts - Alaska Art Bank.

Invitationals include the Governor's Art Exhibit(s) and the Alaska Smithsonian Exhibit; 50 Years of Art in Alaska, Anchorage. Pieces are on vessels of the Alaska Marine Highway obtained as part of the 1% for Art program.

Articles on Lobaugh's art appeared in the Alaska Arts Journal, Alaska Sportsman Magazine, & Alaska Journal (Winter 1979). Alaska Arts Quarterly (1981), and the Calendar of Women Artists of America (1983).

Juneau fans can visit Lobaugh's work year round at the Juneau Artist Gallery in the Senate Mall Building downtown on S. Franklin and at SE Alaska Animal Medical Center.