Dear Editor,
Capital City Weekly Inbox 111412 SPEAKINGOUT 1 Capital City Weekly Dear Editor,
Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Story last updated at 11/14/2012 - 1:51 pm

Capital City Weekly Inbox

Dear Editor,

The Whale Project would like to thank everyone who made our recent Dinner and Auction such a roaring success!

We raised more than $11,000 that night for the life-scale bronze humpback whale and fountain for Juneau's waterfront - a work commissioned by our citizen's committee. Artist R. T. "Skip" Wallen is creating a magnificent life-scale work to honor the 50th anniversary of Statehood. We are so pleased that the CBJ Assembly has designated Bridge Park - the five-acre location at what will be the end of the Seawalk - as the future location for this sculpture and fountain.

For the Whales Tail Trail six-foot high resin whales tails that were auctioned off at the recent diner and auction, we thank artists Dan DeRoux; Clarissa Rizal and Lily Hudson Hope; Gabe and Jerry Smetzer; Bruce Simonson (with the help of Harry James); Lauralye Alison-Miko; Pua Maunu, Jay Crondahl and Christine Crooks (with assistance from Dean Guaneli and donation from these artists and Valley paint); Averyl Veliz; Bethany Rodriguez; Fran Downey, Colleen Goodrich and Evelyn Rousso; and Nona Dimond (who had to overcome the distress of some serious vandalism when that resin tail was placed on the waterfront near the new Visitor's Center.)

Our sponsors were Dawn Findley-Groves and Juneau Drug; Huna Totem; Paradise Cafe; Juneau Arts and Humanities Council; Nugget Alaskan Outfitter; Corvus Design Landscape Architects; Commercial Signs and Printing; Willie's Marine; True North Federal Credit Union and North Pacific Erectors.

These ten resin whales tails were fabricated by UAS Sculpture Professor Pedar Dalthorpe and his students Kate Lester, Dana White and Cal Giordano, among others. Thanks also to UAS Chancellor John Pugh for continuing support of The Whale Project - the eight-foot bronze humpback whale "Spike", which floats now on the lawn of the Juneau Arts and Culture Center (JACC), will be migrating in the Spring to the UAS campus for permanent placement.

Also thanks to Alan Akiyama for the donation of a whimsical "Bubble Bath" print by Carolee Pollock for auction.

The recent Dinner and Auction at the JACC featured a Four Course dinner by Laraine Derr, formerly of Chez Alaska, with the help of Sharon Barton, Gretchen Pence, Sharon Kelly and Tara and Willie Harris, along with dessert creation by Gerry Donohoe and the Chef Class at the Johnson Youth Center. Thanks also to John Decherney of Specialty Imports.

The Dinner and Auction, as well as the Assembly's action in designating the Bridge Park for the location, brought new focus to The Whale Project - we raised an additional $60,000 in the last month. The Board of Directors has voted to send Sculptor Wallen to the Foundry this fall to create the molds for the 26-foot bronze humpback whale, and we expect to have the sculpture and fountain placed on the waterfront before the 2014 tourist season.

Many of us who live in Juneau and surrounding areas know the breath-taking moment when a humpback whale blasts out of the water near our boat in a blast of spray and foam. We know the significance of our whale watching industry to Juneau's economy (recent estimate is an annual $20 million direct income) and we want to make sure that every citizen of and visitor to Juneau can share the same experience.

Thanks to all who have worked to make this project a success for Juneau!

Board of Directors, The Whale Project

Kathy Kolkhorst Ruddy, Chair

Bill Overstreet

Laraine Derr

Kay Diebels

Nancy DeCherney

Sharon Kelly

Jim Clark

Ermalee Hickel