We asked people from Petersburg, to Wrangell, to Skagway to the Governor's Mansion for their "bright moments of 2017." Read on for the diverse, inspiring list.
Artists, writers and community members choose their “bright moments” of 2017 122717 AE 1 Capital City Weekly We asked people from Petersburg, to Wrangell, to Skagway to the Governor's Mansion for their "bright moments of 2017." Read on for the diverse, inspiring list.

In the mythical kingdom of Greywater, the Minister of Culture (Aaron Elmore) reacts to a persuasive argument provided by a guard (Elizabeth Pisel Davis) while another guard (Michael Matthews) looks on ready to assist. Photo from original play "Running with Pretty Sharp Things" by Aaron Elmore. Photo by Greg Chaney.

Mique'l Dangeli holds up a hayetsk, or copper shield, the highest form of ceremonial wealth in Tsimshian culture. "Git Hayetsk" means "People of the Copper Shield." (Mary Catharine Martin | Capital City Weekly)

Artist and model Angela Ecklund works the runway in her "Battling Potted Land" entry made of melted plastic flower pots, plant trays, guitar and violin strings, knitted grocery bags, glitter, spray paint and nail polish at the Wearable Art Show presented by the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council at Centennial Hall on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. Ecklund won the Juror’s 3rd Place award.

Tlingit weaver Lily Hope wears the Chilkat robe she wove while an artist in residence at Sealaska Heritage during a public transfer ceremony May 30, 2017, in the clan house of the Walter Soboleff Building. The robe is now at the Portland Museum of Art. The museum commissioned the robe from Hope for its exhibit “The Art of Resilience: The Continuum of Tlingit Art,” which highlights the teaching lineage of four weavers: Cora Benson, Jennie Thlunaut, Clarissa Rizal (Hope’s mother) and Hope. At center right is Hope’s husband, Ishmael Hope, dancing in a Chilkat tunic woven by Benson. Photo by Nobu Koch, Sealaska Heritage

Click Thumbnails to View
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Story last updated at 12/27/2017 - 4:00 pm

Artists, writers and community members choose their “bright moments” of 2017

 Each year in the Capital City Weekly, we continue a tradition started by former managing editor Amy Fletcher — asking artists, writers and community members around Southeast Alaska for the “bright moments in the arts” that stand out to them. This year we’ve got contributors from Juneau, Wrangell, Petersburg, Skagway, Gustavus — and the Governor’s Mansion.

The darkest time of year is the best time to celebrate all the light we’ve seen. We hope you enjoy reading about some of 2017’s brightest moments in Southeast Alaska as much as we do.

— Mary Catharine Martin, Capital City Weekly managing editor

Maureen Longworth, writer, singer and physician who credits Juneau’s rich arts community for keeping her creative juices flowing

Raised on mom’s popcorn, passed not at all quietly, in a giant brown paper shopping bag every Tuesday night, in some Hollywood or L.A. theatre’s “family night” (when all ten of us got in for $2) my basic art staple is the Gold Town Nickelodeon Theatre. I always get the fresh made-in-coconut oil popcorn and add the nutritional yeast, which sticks best with their real butter; and I change seats if a tall person sits ahead of me. Recently I saw Lady Bird, a deep insight to mother-daughter and father-daughter relationships, punctuated with genuine hilarity and simple honest fresh dialogue. A don’t miss in my book. I hope Greta Gerwig takes an Oscar for Best Screenplay and Best Director. I try to see everything Gold Town shows, and I’m a member so I rack up a free movie every few months. It’s the best deal in town, and you can count on being transported right out of your seat!

Frank Katasse’s play, “They Don’t Talk Back,” was the highlight of the Perseverance Theatre season. The set was exquisitely Southeast; the magic and sounds exactly like our rainforest; and the depth of character and multilayered, multigenerational relationships spellbinding. I would like to see that play again and again. I hope PT brings it back as a classic. And, Frank, you are brilliant!! Can’t wait to see whatever you are working on next. Thank you, Perseverance Theatre, for giving your residents the opportunity to do every aspect of theatre.

Aaron Elmore’s play “Running with Scissors” at McPhetres Hall (Thank you, Holy Trinity, for your theatre space!) by Theatre in the Rough was a clever spoof showing upper class duping the lower class, spying on them through the sewer pipes, and keeping them under strict control — until all got out of control. It was genius, and a hilarious antidote to our real-life frightening social political times.

Singing with the PFLAG Juneau Pride Chorus almost every one of its twenty seasons has been powerfully moving and loads of fun. From our director extraordinaire Leslie Wood I have learned so much! We sing of love, acceptance, equality, and peace and I know we have changed the fabric of Juneau with our voices. Taking our voices to The Alaska Folk Festival is always a highlight and this year we added a new winter program of community sing-a-longs and holiday caroling in an effort to use our voices to extend kindness to the community of Juneau. We culminate our year, directed by our new leader Kathleen Wayne, at the Juneau community Celebration of Kindness on December 31 at Thunder Mountain High School. We welcome new women’s voices for our first practice January 9, at 5:30 p.m. at Resurrection Lutheran where we practice weekly.

Watching my play, “BLUE TICKET – Fairies Out of Alaska” come to life at the JACC and the Alaska State Museum (THANK YOU both venues!) for selected scene readings by smashing Juneau actors for Juneau’s Gay Pride month is more than a highlight of the year. It was a highlight of my life. The enthusiastic reception by the audiences, their laughter!, the standing ovations, the tears in the eyes of people then, and now when they thank me on the streets of Juneau, all of it is spurring the play on to what is next (hopefully stage production). Thank you, Juneau and our rich theatre community!

When I first heard “The Lark Ascending” in a California Theatre I had an unanticipated transcendental experience that brought me to quiet tears. I didn’t allow myself to expect the same when the piece appeared on the Juneau Symphony program, yet my experience was delightfully similar. I was deeply moved to tears. Thank you, Juneau Symphony for all your work that brings us such excellence every season. I wouldn’t miss a concert!

All of Juneau owes the Capital City Weekly, the JACC community calendar, and our local radio stations, especially “A Juneau Afternoon” on KTOO, for bringing the arts calendars and happenings to our communities and helping us all spread the word about what’s going on. Without them our endeavors would not be as successful. Thank you especially to Mary Catharine Martin and Clara Miller.

Zak Hench, dancer and Juneau Dance Theatre artistic director

My favorite event in Juneau in 2017 was the Tsimshian dance group Git Hoan. I loved seeing the dance (editor’s note: they performed at the University of Alaska Southeast), and hearing the songs telling the stories of their people. Amazing! West Side Story was really good. Of course Wearable Art.

Emily Wall, Poet, Associate Professor of English at UAS

At the time of year when we’re counting our blessings, the artistic and literary scene in Juneau is always near the top of my list. Here are some of my favorite moments from the last year:

Blue Ticket: Fairies Out of Alaska by Maureen Longworth: I saw excerpts of this performed at the UAS Power & Privilege Symposium in November. This play tells the true story of LGBTQ discrimination in Juneau in the 1960s. This is a play everyone in Juneau needs to see. This short performance was offered as part of the symposium and followed by a good discussion; many of those in the audience had no idea this happened in Juneau. Actors included: Zebadiah Bodine, Audrey Kohler, Austin Tagaban, Alyssa Fischer, Maranda Clark, Roblin Gray Davis, and James Sullivan. They were all terrific.

Opening of ColorWheel Arts: Local artist Sherri McDonald rented the Waterwheel Building in Downtown Douglas and has turned it into art studios and an art classroom. Through this new arts collaborative she is offering a range of classes targeted for everyone in the community. There are classes for beginning artists, for teachers looking for arts education, and for kids. The LGBTQ knitting circle also meets there now. My three kids took Felted Animals with Amy Houck and loved it. Cheers to Sherri for creating this beautiful arts center in Douglas!

Vivian Faith Prescott Found Sculpture: This artist from Wrangell had a show at the JACC in the fall that was truly inspiring. Vivian is a found artist and she makes sculptures from beach art and garbage. Her First Friday show was packed and Vivian spent much of the time sharing her ideas and secrets to making this art. One of my favorite parts was a “play table” she created for everyone to work with. She had buried “treasures” in the sand and encouraged everyone there to create a mini-sculpture and then take a picture with a Polaroid. Soon the wall was covered with our creations! (Editor’s note: Prescott and her daughter, Vivian Mork Yeilk’, have the first of what will be a bimonthly column on page 12 of this week’s issue.)

Tidal Echoes 2017 Launch: One of my favorite literary events of the year is the annual launch of the new volume of Tidal Echoes, the Southeast literary and art journal published by UAS. Each year I’m moved by the intense stories and images our community shares. This year the featured artist was Rico Lanaat’ Worl and he talked us through a slideshow of his groundbreaking and beautiful work. The featured writer was Lynn Schooler and he read from his work and told stories about his life as a guide and writer. This event is always a good time to mingle with the literary community of Juneau.

Poetry Omnibus: Last spring I attended the annual reading of poems from this project. This is a JAHC project run by volunteer Ceann Murphy. This project puts two poems on every city bus in Juneau. About half the poems are published by kids. The reading was fun, especially watching the kids stand up in front of an audience and read their poems for the first time. But this project is one that goes way beyond the reading; I love riding the bus, looking up, and reading a poem as we rattle along in the rain, on our way wherever we are going. A shout-out to the JAHC, Capital City Buses who donates the space, and Ceann Murphy for her work on this project.

Donna Walker, First Lady of Alaska

Perhaps the biggest was the selection of the Tlingit carving that is the new showpiece of the People’s House ballroom; receiving a signed copy of” Blonde Indian” from Ernestine Hayes at the People’s House and reading it cover to cover; having Juneau symphony members and other Juneau musicians play at the People’s House for different events; chairing the statewide student art fair at the Alaska State Museum; attending the Alaska Folk Festival two nights to hear legislators and commissioners perform; displaying the Hope quilt at the Alaska Children’s Trust fundraiser. (Editor’s note: Donna Walker calls the Governor’s house “the People’s House.” Also, the Hope Quilt is created by artist Carmel Anderson for “Unheard Voices | Unheard Wisdom” and contains messages from adults and children who have survived interpersonal violence.)

Jeff Brady, Skagway publisher, author, editor, bookseller, and arts supporter

The eighth annual North Words Writers Symposium in Skagway in late May was the most successful to date. Forty participants attended to hear keynote author Paul Theroux (The Mosquito Coast, The Great Railway Bazaar, Deep South, Motherland) and learn to improve their writing in workshops and panels with published Alaskan writers John Straley, Deb Vanesse, Tom Kizzia, Sherry Simpson, Andy Hall, and Lenora Bell. The tenth annual North Words will be held May 30 - June 2, 2018 with Susan Orlean (The Orchid Thief, Rin Tin Tin) as keynote author. Juneau authors Ernestine Hayes and Emily Wall are among the Alaskan faculty. For more information go to

The Margaret Frans Brady Fund in May announced the awarding of $7,000 in scholarships to several Juneau and Skagway students for pursuit of excellence and continuing education in the arts. More than $31,000 has been awarded to area students since the program began in 2013. Information on applying for 2018 scholarships will be available in March on the Juneau Community Foundation website. The MFB Fund also kicked off fundraising for SS Princess Sophia Memorial projects in Skagway and Juneau for the 2018 centennial of the marine disaster. For more information see

Alderworks Alaska Writers and Artists Retreat completed its second season of summer residencies in its three cabins on West Creek in Dyea. This year’s residents were Juneau writers X’unei Lance Twitchell and Mary Catharine Martin, Fort Yukon writer Jen Morrisett, southern poets Jessica Ramer and Gaylord Brewer, and midwestern painter Kristen Phipps. Applications are now being accepted for six residencies in the summer of 2018 at

Skagway artist Daniel Papke worked all year on paintings for his show that is now on display at the Alaska State Museum. A museum press release said that Papke’s “paintings focus on an internal search for the deeper meaning of the images, mythology, and visual narratives that captivate his imagination.” Find out more about Papke here:

The Skagway Arts Council hosted a number of great events including the Blues, Brews and BBQ at the outdoor Dedman Stage. And the community welcomed the internationally famous “Musical Ride” of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to an exciting show on the school ball field and a parade of the horses and riders up Broadway.

Kim Heacox, Gustavus author, photographer, musician and Beatles nut

Brendan Isaac Jones in the New York Times (NYT): Using story, science and no small amount of lyricism, Sitka author and commercial fisherman Brendan Jones wrote a powerful condemnation of the proposed Pebble Mine in “A Gold Rush in Salmon Country,” (11/24/17). It’s not easy to break into the NYT. Jones did it in style, describing wild salmon as “chromatic shifts of light” that bring bounty, beauty and gratitude into the lives of countless Alaskans. Including his small daughters.

“Across the Shaman’s River: John Muir, the Tlingit Stronghold, and the Opening of the North”: Daniel Lee Henry of Haines (and Eugene, Oregon) worked for many years on this seismic new book. A strong writer (winner of a Pushcart Prize), and assiduous cross-cultural researcher and educator, Henry built his thesis on Muir’s 1879 canoe journey (850 miles in 40 days) and how Muir’s oratory, specifically his message on brotherhood, forever changed the lives of the Chilkat and Chilkoot people.

“The Dead Go To Seattle”: In Vivian Faith Prescott’s new book, a young woman’s powerful oratory (she’s part Tlingit) reconstructs history by layering story and myth. A man marries trees. A woman becomes a bear. A UFO hunts deer. And while the living stay home, sustained by stories, the dead go to Seattle. Prescott lives in Wrangell, and her braided narration nicely complements that of Ernestine Hayes (of Juneau), author of last year’s “The Tao of Raven”.

Zach Brown and the Inian Islands Institute: In the spring of 2014 Zach Brown defended his PhD at Stanford University, in Palo Alto, California, threw on a backpack, and hiked north up the west coast 1,000 miles to Port Angeles, Washington. From there, he kayaked 1,300 miles to Gustavus, where he was raised. The entire trip took 111 days. He did it to raise awareness for his life’s ambition: to purchase the Hobbit Hole (a 5-acre inholding in the Inian Islands, in Icy Strait, near Glacier Bay) and start a field school dedicated to environmental science, culture, art, and activism focused on educating and inspiring young leaders. Brown needed to raise $1 million to buy the property. This month (December 2017) he and his team reached that goal.

Ricky Tagaban, weaver

The first thing that comes to mind is the ceremony Lily Hope held when she took her robe down from her weaving frame.

Another one that’s more personal is the drag performance I did about Standing Rock at the Glitz show in June. I sat with the idea for months and worried about making myself a target for violence. I decided the message was worth sharing despite my fears.

Mary Catharine Martin, Capital City Weekly managing editor

Lily Hope’s first completed Chilkat robe

I was in Skagway during the ceremony at which Lily Hope cut this robe off the loom, so I missed it, sadly, but the photo we put on the cover this week says it all. This robe, Lily’s first complete Chilkat robe, took her more than 1,700 hours and almost a year and a half to weave. There is so much artistry and history embodied in it. Lily’s mother and teacher, Clarissa Rizal, who passed away at the end of 2016; Clarissa’s teacher, Jennie Thlunaut; Cora Benson; all the weavers that came before — they’re all there, and because of them and weavers like Lily, the art of Chilkat weaving, which was in danger just a few decades ago, has a strong past, present and future. That’s incredibly powerful, and incredibly moving.

Haunted Inside Passage, by Bjorn Dihle

This is a blatantly biased selection (Bjorn is my boyfriend) but seriously – have you all read his book? Bjorn is a wonderful writer with the rare talent of delving to the heart of whatever he’s writing about. You might think, from the title, that this book is about ghosts. It is, but it’s also about a lot more. Bjorn’s lived and adventured in Alaska his whole life, and he spoke with and interviewed dozens of Southeast Alaskans for “Haunted Inside Passage.” The result is that it’s part history, part ghost story, part memoir, part adventure, and, because Bjorn wrote it, much of it is also hilarious. In a review, the Anchorage Daily News called “Haunted Inside Passage” “a damned good read.” It is.

Alderworks Writing Residency

Jeff and Dorothy Brady have created something really wonderful in Alderworks, an artists’ residency in Dyea with three lovely cabins – one for each artist. I was fortunate enough to spend three weeks of May in the beautiful Bea cabin, working on a novel based during the Klondike Gold Rush. Jeff and Dorothy were extremely helpful, and as an added bonus, Jeff, one of the people who started the Yukon River Quest, knows the river better than most people know their own backyards. He gave Bjorn and me lots of great tips for June, when we hiked the Chilkoot Pass and paddled from Lake Bennett to Dawson.

While at Alderworks I wrote 250 pages, finishing the first draft of my novel. I’m extremely grateful to Alderworks for the time and space that made that possible, and to Jeff and Dorothy for their generosity in creating this wonderful place. Apply for 2018 at

North Words

I’d been hearing about North Words, a writing conference in Skagway, from fellow Alaskan writers for years. 2017, however, was the first year I had a chance to go. Guest speaker Paul Theroux drew almost 50 attendees to Skagway this year — more than normal, but there was plenty of time to get to know and speak with the talented faculty, as well as to make friends with other attendees, mostly from Alaska and Canada. (That’s a big contrast to Outside writing conferences, the biggest of which draws more than 10,000 attendees.) I stongly recommend North Words for anyone interested in writing and building their writing community in Alaska and the north. The 2018 guest speaker is the highly regarded Susan Orlean, author of “The Orchid Thief,” among other books.

“They Don’t Talk Back,” at Perseverance Theatre, written by Frank Henry Kaash Katasse

Frank Henry Kaash Katasse is a very talented actor and playwright who was born, raised and lives in Juneau. This play, his (award-winning!) first, was both moving and funny. It’s really wonderful to see Perseverance Theatre supporting and nurturing local playwrights – one of my favorite events of 2016 was Vera Starbard’s first play, “Our Voices Will be Heard” – and supporting theatre, stories and voices that have been underrepresented in the past. I loved this play, and I can’t wait to see his next.

Return of T’akdeintaan at.oowu

There are a lot of great things happening in Hoonah. In 2016 was the dedication of Xunaa Shuká Hít – the Hoonah Tribal House in Glacier Bay. This year, I felt very privileged to witness and share with Capital City Weekly readers the return of several T’akdeintaan sacred cultural objects, or at.oow (it will be almost 50 by the time the return is complete) to the people of Hoonah. Those at.oow have spent almost 100 years in the Lower 48. Their return was decades in the making, and the result of the longest dispute in NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) history. Three representatives of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, all of whom were adopted Tlingit by the end of the ceremony, brought three of those items back by hand. The Hoonah Indian Association is working on creating a museum in Hoonah; until then, the at.oow are in the care of the Alaska State Museum (some others from the Penn Museum collection are in the care of the Sealaska Heritage Institute.) It’s wonderful that these at.oow were taken care of — as several speakers noted, had they been in Hoonah, most would have been destroyed in the fire of 1944. It’s also incredibly important that, in 2017, they came home.

Vivian Faith Prescott, Wrangell writer and artist

2017 was a groundbreaking year for Wrangell LGBTQIA community.

Community Roots: Alone a tree; together a forest. This group was established for LGBTQIA and allies in Wrangell to meet and support one another in a positive environment. Wrangell had its first ever Equality March, which made national and regional news. Community Roots also contributed a first ever Pride float in Wrangell’s renowned July 4 festivities. Creativity abounded! Artists, writers, and activists helped design signs and décor for the float. More arts/community events are planned for the near future.

Wrangell Wearable Arts Show: Wearable Arts shows have been popular in many Southeast Alaska communities such as Ketchikan, Sitka, and Juneau and now Wrangell. The first WEAR: Wrangell’s Exotic Art Review was held during the July 4 talent show and was well received. According to the organizers wearable art can be made out of anything, especially recycled materials or repurposed from something else. The next WEAR show is scheduled for March 2018.

“I Am Jazz” National Reading Event: In December 2017, Community Roots hosted an “I Am Jazz” reading at the old High school gymnasium multipurpose room. “I Am Jazz,” by HRC Youth Ambassador Jazz Jennings and author Jessica Herthel, is a children’s picture book about being transgender. The reading coincided with a nationwide event hosted by the Human Rights Commissions’ Welcoming Schools program.

UnEarth Art Show: August 2017 at Juneau Arts and Humanities Council Gallery, I exhibited mixed-media sculptures and an interactive beachcombing art table. I shared the gallery space with fabulous Juneau artist Wayne Owen and his exhibit “Birds of Rhiannon.”

Stikine River Birding Festival: In Wrangell the Stikine River Birding Festival is held in April and celebrates the return of the largest springtime concentration of bald eagles in North America on the Stikine River Delta, in addition to the migratory snow geese, sandhill cranes, black swifts, blue herons, pipits and more. The festival included a community-wide art contest with a bird theme. The 2017 Winners: 1st place: Vivian Faith Prescott - Adventures of Steampunk Raven; 2nd Place: Chris Ellis; 3rd Place: Eleanor Carlisle - Raven Container.

Chelsea Tremblay, Petersburg writer and bookseller

A necessarily abbreviated list from my personal 2017 highlight reel includes:

The Salty Pantry officially opened its doors in April after winning the Path to Prosperity grant in 2016, and is now serving breakfast and lunch year-round down Sing Lee Alley.

In June, over 20 community members and their families gathered at Sandy Beach for a LGBTQ Pride Potluck

The growing number of artists/makers sharing their talents with kids and adults alike, including Doris Olsen, Grace Wolf, Janine Gibbons, Ashley Lohr and Andrea Weathers

Karleen Grummett, author of “Quiet Defiance: Alaska’s Empty Chair Story,” came to town and gave a presentation about the internment of Alaskans of Japanese descent during WWII.

Mitkof Dance Troupe bought a building that will become their new permanent home

Poet Lee Ribich released his third book of poetry, “Spindrift.”

Finally, a moment of appreciation for the countless hours of labor it takes to put on the many cultural events in town, including our local theater, library activities, art openings, and so many more. To all the organizations and individuals with even a small part to play in those happenings, thank you.

Lin Davis, Juneau poet and dog-lover

Emily Wall’s Advanced Creative Writing class at UAS is a profound opportunity for writers of all ages and levels. Positive and encouraging workshop structure stretches writers to new levels of personal best. And it’s fun.

49 Writers Crosscurrents panel September 29 at the Alaska State Museum: Juneau playwright, Vera Starbard, along with Inupiaq poet Joan Naviyuk Kane, and Anchorage novelist Don Rearden, discussed “Station Eleven,” the post-apocalyptic novel that Juneau Public Libraries, Alaska State Library and Egan Library at the University of Alaska Southeast chose for the “NEA Big Read in Juneau.” This novel shivers me daily, and it is a unique community experience to read and discuss a haunting book. “Imagine,” as all the panelists said, “ a post-apocalyptic novel that never mentions Native people or their skills in surviving the apocalyptic loss of every aspect of their lives and culture. “ Each panelist read from their own work and demonstrated how art helps people survive trauma. Librarian Beth Weigel’s final words about the state of our civil society added to the meaning of “Station Eleven.”

At the Valley library on Valentines Day, Poet Roger Reeves from the University of Chicago discussed American 2017 post-fact life. He read poems from his book, “King Me.” Check out his poems “Domestic Violence” and “The Mare of Money.” He posed the question, “What is poem-truth in this post-fact world? Can poetry tip us into a realm of truth that we have been missing?”

Woosh Kinaadeiyi Poetry Grand Slam in October with poets Austin Naaweiyaa Tagaban, Ben Miller, Audrey Kohler Sigel: stunning spoken word poetry and slam presentation. Woosh K shows democracy and kind regard in action. All are welcome. Share your poem. Be heard.

Juneau poet Mary Lou Sparks gathered local poets who read their words about death and dying in the light of MK McNaughton’s translucent vellum portrait drawings hanging in the JACC windows. MK interviewed each person portrayed about dying and displayed their words.

“The Lark ascending.” Juneau symphony’s performance with violinist Fabiola Kim. Ralph Vaughn Williams loved George Meredith’s poem and moved it into music.

Listening to Sitka poet John Straley read his “Spring” haiku poems at Juneau-Douglas City Museum. We breathed haiku, relaxing into the way everything is alive and transparent.

Clara Miller, Capital City Weekly staff writer and interim managing editor May - Sept. 2017

One of the great things about being the staff writer for the Capital City Weekly is seeing the people of Southeast’s creativity and determination in action. I get the chance to learn about folk’s creative processes and thoughts about their work. Sometimes, I even get to witness their transformations.

This year, one of our frequent Writers’ Weir submitters, Miriam Wagoner, self-published a book of poetry “A Poem Book From My Kaasei Nook to the World.” She took some of her previously published work as well as unread poems and released them. She put the whole project together this summer in a tight time frame, and now, she has done multiple book signings around Juneau, as well as other self-promotions. Just earlier this summer, I worked with her on revising her poetry for Writers’ Weir, and she was always welcoming of feedback to make her pieces stronger. She is originally from the Philippines, so English is not her first language, but not only has she become fluent, she’s worked hard to improve her writing skills, at one point even flying out once a week to attend a writing class in Seattle. It’s been a pleasure to watch her grow as a writer, just as it is to see so many other creative people around Southeast push themselves in their chosen mediums.

Speaking of poetry, one of my favorites this year was Ishmael Hope’s “Rock Piles Along the Eddy.” His goal for the book, he said, was “to just be himself and to be unapologetically Native.” As a Tlingit and Inupiaq man, he focuses on indigenous thought and what the world looks like from his view, oftentimes challenging Western ways of thought, as well as showing the subtleties, nuances and even similarities between the perspectives. It’s a thought-provoking book, and the ideas of some poems I have still not stopped thinking about. I look forward to his next collection.

Another piece I’ve thought frequently about is the play “Blue Ticket – Fairies Out of Alaska,” by Maureen Longworth. Longworth held multiple public readings of her fictionalized version of the true events about the expulsion of gay men from Juneau in the 1960s. It’s a story that may surprise some. Other longtime Juneauites, it won’t surprise at all. It serves as an important reminder that while we’ve come a long way on LGBTQ rights, there is still a ways to go; we must remain vigilant in protecting not only our own civil rights, but those of our neighbors. I hope to see her play performed on a stage someday.

I’m a geek at heart as well as an April baby, so seeing Alaska Robotics put on the Mini Comic Con for the second time this year was the one of the best birthday gifts. Seeing Juneau come out in cosplay, cartoonists doodling under their signatures on cover pages, and folks of all creative types and stripes share about their art forms was amazing. To organize such a large scale event takes a tremendous amount of effort and vision, and I thank those involved for it.

In the last month, the world has seen an increasing number of women coming forward to speak about their experiences with sexual harassment, assault and rape. In January, local artist Christine Carpenter exhibited a unique collection of art at Alaska Robotics. She took passages from her diary, written the week after she was raped in Italy a decade ago, and reinterpreted those words into eight different pieces as a form of art therapy. For her, the show was “a coming out party” about her assault. Several people at the exhibit opening called the collection brave and powerful, and I’d have to agree. Carpenter herself said: “I didn’t know how to address it. I knew that I would have found some freedom if I had shared this story. I think I started this show knowing full well that it would be that for me.” Some of her prints are still available at Alaska Robotics.

Bethany Goodrich, Sitka writer and Capital City Weekly freelancer

Yakutat Culture Camp and Culture Camps: I had the privilege of visiting this year’s Yakutat Culture Camp, Haa Yaakwdáat Kusteeyi Yanshuká. This overnight camp, tucked beside the powerful Situk River, was a particularly bright moment for the arts in 2017. Kids aged 7 to 17 learned how to weave cedar hats, pulled oars through the Situk as they were instructed on canoe paddling, worked on formline, caught and processed salmon, smoked seal, practiced songs and language and learned from their peers about cultural stewardship. The goal of this camp, orchestrated by the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe, is to encourage campers to respect themselves, the natural environment, and the traditional tribal values and clan systems of the Yakutat Tlingit. Programs like this are absolutely critical for keeping arts and culture thriving in Southeast Alaska.

Baby Raven Books and Michaela Goade create gorgeous Alaskan children’s books

Michaela Goade is a brilliant young Alaskan artist whose work I’ve admired for years now. Her collaboration with Sealaska Heritage’s Baby Raven Reads program this year resulted in some of the most compelling and beautiful children’s book illustrations I’ve encountered. She captures the unique beauty, culture, mist and lore of Southeast Alaska and her works were paired with respected Alaskan authors and traditional and modern storytelling in books such as ‘Let’s Go: A Harvest Story’ and ‘How Devil’s Club Came to Be’. According to the Sealaska Heritage website, The Baby Raven Reads program is an award-winning Sealaska Heritage education program that promotes early-literacy, language development and school readiness for Alaska Native families with children up to age 5. This combination of arts and storytelling was a highlight of 2017 and I can’t wait to get my hands on copies of these books for gifts. They are available online at the Sealaska Heritage store and at the Sealaska Heritage Institute in downtown Juneau.

Salmon Bones

One of my brightest art moments this year, and perhaps one of the most unique stories I’ve followed in my career… involved twenty thousand salmon bones. Cynthia Gibson carefully processed over twenty thousand salmon vertebrae into a show-stopping gown that Mia Nevaraz danced down the stage of Sitka’s Wearable Arts Show hosted by the Greater Sitka Arts Council. Later in the spring, the dress made a delightful splash when Gabi Stroemer donned the dress and helped hand Governor Walker a salmon on Alaska’s Wild Salmon Day in Sitka. The unique gown is now headed to the Museum of the North in Fairbanks.

With the Grain: Art Inspired by the Tongass

Zach LaPerriere is a skilled Sitkan artist and craftsman who specializes in unique hand-turned wooden bowls from the Tongass National Forest. Zach salvages inspiring pieces of timber from Southeast Alaska’s forests and beaches and honors each tree’s unique history and characteristics by turning them, literally, into gorgeous wooden vessels. This autumn, he partnered with other Alaskan artists including Heather Bauscher, Cara Jane Murray and Norm Campbell to host “With the Grain: Art Inspired by the Tongass” at the Loft in Sitka. Sitka may be small but it is certainly a town full of artistic talent, and this show was just one small example of how Alaskans celebrate their glorious temperate rainforest backyard with art.

Nancy Lehnhart, Juneau School District Elementary art teacher

Students display their artful map in City Hall:

Last spring students created maps of the Juneau area, stretching from the historical lands of the Aak’w Kwáan and T’aaku Kwáan. They created artful patterns to indicate the geographic features and traditional land uses. The maps included Tlingit place names which are so descriptive and apt. The folks at City Hall were kind to display several of these large student maps in the entryway to the assembly chambers giving the public a chance to appreciate the kids artwork. When several classes went on a field trip to see their art displayed, Rorie Watt gave them a tour of the Chambers and they got to sit in the seats of our assembly members and be mayor for a moment!

“They Don’t Talk Back” was an amazing play by Frank Henry Kaash Katasse. Funny, poignant and so artfully produced. Teachers were invited to attend one of the performances (through the Artful Teaching project, as a collaboration between JSD and JAHC) and had a meaningful and fun “talk back” with Frank and another actor afterwards.

This fall was the third annual Any Given Child Art Bus Excursion for all Juneau second graders to visit the Walter Soboleff Building and hear story-telling in the beautiful clan house inside. I loved hearing their little voices saying “gunalchéesh!” to the SHI staff when leaving the building after taking in the art and the stories told by Lily Hope and Daaljíni Folletti Cruise.

Greg Chaney, Juneau filmmaker

Lily Hudson Hope completes a Chilkat blanket

It was heart-warming and impressive to watch Lily complete a Chilkat Blanket at the Sealaska Heritage Center this summer.

Raising the healing totem at Sayéik: Gastineau Community School

This is a beautiful totem. It is wonderful to see that traditional carving is still alive and well as a vital art form.

“Running with Pretty Sharp Things,” by Aaron Elmore

Aaron Elmore’s first original play “Running with Pretty Sharp Things” was brought to life by the Theatre in the Rough company. It was a significant achievement to bring such a complex and rich play to life.

Public Showing of “1 1/2 Days” movie by Greg Chaney

The romantic comedy “1 1/2 Days” that was written, produced, filmed and edited in Juneau was shown to Juneau audiences this year.

Collette Costa, Gold Town Theater operator and occasional entertainer

In looking back at the arts world of Juneau in 2017, I realized many of our brightest lights have dimmed, but the luminosity of their legacy lives on. To honor their work and spirit, I’ve dedicated great arts moments to them, in the hope that we continue to value not just the beauty of the arts, but the necessity of them.

Native Arts – In honor of Clarissa Rizal (Hudson) and Teri Rofkar, dedicated to Lily Hope (Hudson) – Though they passed on only weeks apart from one another just before the start of 2017, these two truly great artists have not only left a legacy of revivalist traditional weaving, but fostered a new generation of weavers who perpetuate and progress the art form in exciting new ways. In May of 2017, Rizal’s daughter Lily Hope (Hudson) finished her first full-size Chilkat robe, a stunning piece that now lives in the permanent collection of the Portland Art Museum. Lily, and a few other young weavers like Ricky Tagaban, are dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of their heritage and their craft.

Musical Performance – In honor of Jon Hanson, dedicated to Gold Street concert series – Jon Hanson, who left us back in May, spent the last few years of his life in Sitka, playing trumpet when and wherever he could. His talent and panache were top-shelf, and his notes were as bright and bold as his personality. He spent decades playing great live music throughout Alaska with just about everyone, and my absolute fondest memory of him will be playing the horse race Call to the Post fanfare at the Pelican Boardwalk Boogie before the start of the rubber duck race. Like that tune, he was ebullient. The Gold Street Music concert series has been going steady for at least a decade now, thanks in large part to the efforts of a few dedicated volunteers, primarily Elva Bontrager. This series is a treasure of fine local musicians who we rarely get a chance to hear, and is the definition of community spirit.

Arts Education – In honor of Marianne Manning, dedicated to Heather Ridgway – In my opinion, most teachers are saints, but Marianne was special even among that crowd. She passed away suddenly in August, leaving a long history of community service. She was tireless in her teaching, abundant in her devotion, and uncompromising in her belief that art matters. And she was a hell of a lot of fun to be around. We were lucky to have her influence so many young minds and hearts. Now take everything I just wrote, and apply it to Heather Ridgway. Her creativity is matched only by her dedication, her compassion matched by her empathy, and she is a hell of a lot of fun to be around.

Writing/Literature – In honor of Nora Marks Dauenhauer, dedicated to Dee Longenbaugh – Dr. Dauenhauer left this world in September, and left it a much better place. Her contributions to writings in poetry, fiction, and historical nonfiction are unparalleled in the state, and as a Native American, in the nation. More than that, her research and preservation of the Tlingit language was essential to its survival. Similarly, Dee Longenbach’s dedication to the written word was literally a cornerstone of Juneau for nearly 40 years, in the form of the venerable Observatory Bookstore. Thank you, Dee, for all of those wonderful, dusty, beloved books.

Visual Arts/Film – In honor of Lisle Hebert, dedicated to Gold Town Theater – 2017 started out rough when we lost one of the most decent people who ever lived in Juneau, a man who dedicated his life to his community, his art, and his passion for film. Lisle was born at St. Ann’s, and spent most of his life (other than a short jaunt to California) in a five-mile radius of it. He pursued a career in filmmaking, and eventually began the Gold Town Nickelodeon, where he endeavored to keep Juneau in step with the rest of the world in contemporary, independent, international cinema. Yes, this dedication may be a bit self-indulgent, but I was a regular customer long before I was the proprietor, and the fact that a town the size of Juneau had an art-house theater was a crucial factor in my deciding to live here. It is my great pride to carry on his work, and 2017 saw the inception of a new classic cinema series which aims to continue and foster an appreciation for great visual art in a community-based atmosphere.

Guy Unzicker, Juneau writer and musician

I’ve selected three art events that, to me, represent three totally disparate, but very important, kinds of art in Juneau.

The first is something that you’ve definitely heard of even if you’ve never been. It’s vibrant, vogue, and perennially popular among artists and connoisseurs alike. It’s the Wearable Art Show. The Wearable Art Show takes contemporary, urban, and playful art and rips it from the gallery wall and sets it down on the runway, in a big dynamic way. 2017 saw the bombastic yet intellectually themed Renaissance show, featuring everything from intricate, creeky post-apocalyptic exoskeletons and DaVinci-esque proto-glider dresses, to political statement pieces featuring bumper stickers and a suspiciously long red tie. For anyone who’s never been, it’s a glorious dynamo of art, fashion, and fun, and I highly recommend it.

In the sphere of a local music scene, there are three things you should never underestimate: 1) young musicians, 2) rock and roll in all its forms, and 3) sheer volume. Thunderfest 2017 did not fail to bring all 3. This is a kind of energy you just don’t find on the Folk Fest stage, or at an open mic. Every time I’ve been to Thunderfest I’ve been surprised with some nascent group or young energetic talent in a bite-sized accessible way. This year I loved getting to see groups like Interrobang and Treadwell tear it up onstage, and it’s a pretty small scene that I think deserves to get more attention.

Lastly, something in the arts scene of 2017 that might have gone unnoticed if you were only looking for gallery walks, performances, and cover-charge events, is the plethora of painted rocks that have been making a pretty impressive invasion around here. For those that haven’t noticed, or don’t know about the trend, people have been painting rocks and leaving them around outside, particularly on trails and trailheads, and often they are associated with Facebook groups like Juneau Rocks. Does this count as art, you may ask? Absolutely! It is an endeavour of creation, imagination, and skill, and it has a cultural context through which to communicate meaning. Plus, it’s totally fun to find the rocks and participate as a viewer. I look forward to more rocks in 2018!

Sarah McNair-Grove, President, Juneau Symphony

The Juneau Symphony “Opening Night” concerts in October. Guest artist Fabiola Kim sparkled in her playing of Ralph Vaughn Williams’ “The Lark Ascending.”

Taku Winds and Juneau Volunteer Marching Band “Celebrating Fourth of July in Music.” A great patriotic band concert with guest conductor Dr. Dwayne Corbin. Lots of American music and a beautiful saxophone solo played by William Todd Hunt were delightful ways to start Juneau’s Independence Day celebrations.

Capital City Quilters quilt show. Lovely quilts by Juneau quilters filled Centennial Hall.

Orpheus Project’s West Side Story. Some fantastic music to depict a “Romeo and Juliet” themed musical set in New York City in the 1950’s. Juneau’s actors and musicians energetically sang, danced and played on JDHS stage to bring this musical to life.

Juneau Student Symphony Goes to the Movies concert in December, featuring musicians of all ages and experience in a concert of movie music. Watch for them in the spring.

Bill Merk, Juneau poet

Alaska State Improv Festival - 2017’s festival was the biggest and the best yet. Always entertaining, the Alaska State Improv Festival is a celebration of improvisational theater in its vast spectrum of forms, and an opportunity for Alaska’s own actors to perform alongside, meet with, and learn from other improv artists from around the globe.

Woosh Kinaadeiyi Summer Showcase- Five local poets with live music accompaniment took the stage at Rockwell Ballroom for Woosh Kinaadeiyí’s annual Summer Showcase. A “must see” event every year, 2017’s showcase pairing of local talent and a terrific venue once again proved that Juneau’s poetry scene is not just alive and well, but thriving.

Kindred Post - Whether it’s a poetry reading, a book release party, a community awareness meeting, or a tiny post office concert, Christy NaMee Eriksen’s Kindred Post tops the list for intimate, warm, and supportive venues. Not to mention the wonderful line of local art that they have for sale. O, and then the fact that they are a post office as well…

Juneau Drag - Each event seems to be more over-the-top amazing than the last; it’s no wonder that every Juneau drag event is standing room only. Would need to check the numbers, but it sure seems like Juneau has more drag shows per capita per year than any other town in America. And that is very much a good thing.

Juneau Fine Arts Camp- So many fantastic opportunities this past summer for youth of all ages. This popular Juneau program offers classes in a wide range of fine arts, from dancing to weaving, cooking to nature sketching, and more. Professional artist-teachers lead the classes, assisted by teens who help teach and mentor the young campers.

Dick Callahan, Juneau writer and former "Woodshed Kings" columnist

Lisle Hebert’s Epic Sendoff

Juneau’s own humanitarian filmmaker Lisle Hebert was a most decent, opinionated, talented, make you laugh out loud man. In a country where you hear we’ve lost the art of dying well, Lisle’s passing and memorial service was a rocking reflection of community faith, love, sorrow, laughter, family values, all political views on their best behavior, and great live music including a band with a fifty person people’s choir and several hundred well-wishers belting out, “Gonna recommend you to the spirit in the sky.” He was a spirit almost there.      

Skip Wallen’s Life-size Humpback Whale Statue—again

The traveling sun lights her up from different angles through the seasons. Sometimes in winter, like for weeks this December, she shimmers even by moonlight entirely covered with glistening ice crystals. My favorite whale statue moment was at the end of November, two days after leaving the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago. I was on the Juneau Douglas bridge watching a patrol of killer whales pass just below me and just beside the breaching head, body and pectoral fin of Skip Wallen’s bronze whale. An image like that beside the Dan Ryan would bring the whole 70 mile per hour frenetic mess to a stand-still.

Perseverance Theater, “Glacier Bay

Joel Bennett’s play is about the intriguing relationship between Hollywood mega-star Douglas Fairbanks and (married to someone else) homesteader Muz Ibach in Southeast Alaska during the 1920’s. Joel combined the characters and events with his own research, wit and a good Perseverance cast to come up with one of our favorite nights out this year.      

The Murphy Beds Guest Artists at the Alaska Folk Festival

Eamon O’Leary and Jefferson Hamer — The Murphy Beds — came to town with traditional Irish music, ballads, instrumentals, original songs, as well as dances and workshops. These two are tight vocalists and multi instrumentalists playing guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and an elegant bouzouki. They helped put the folk in Folk Fest.              

And that’s 2017, folks. Have something we missed, or that you’d like to share with the world? Write us and tell us about it! We’re always interested. You can reach us at — Mary Catharine Martin, managing editor