Izabella Powers, left, Cate Ross, Salissa Thole, Jackie Scholz and Ellie Sica, right, rehearse in Juneau Douglas Little Theatre's production of "5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche" at Northern Light United Church in April 2016.
Weaver Clarissa Rizal adjusts the “Weavers Across the Waters” robe on carver Wayne Price in front of Xunaa Shuká Hít. Both artists are masters in their respective fields. Price was the first to wear and dance with the robe, woven by 44 weavers from up and down the Pacific Northwest.
Carver James Hart greets the hundreds gathered on Bartlett Cove's shore in Tlingit. These three boats paddled from Hoonah to Glacier Bay.
Group members listen as Skylar Wright speaks in a small group at "Racial Justice and Anti-Violence — A Creative Conversation." Wright read a poem called "How Black Women Taught Me How to Love" at the event.
Juneau residents and visitors crowd into the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff building housing the State Library, State Archives and State Museum during the Grand Opening in June 2016.
Story last updated at 12/29/2016 - 2:11 pm
From the editor: We’ve reached out to members of the arts community around Southeast Alaska for their thoughts on the year’s “bright moments” in arts and culture. From the dedication of Xunaa Shuká Hít to Juneau-Douglas Little Theatre’s “5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche,” read on to learn about some of the year’s highlights.
Thanks to former Capital City Weekly editor and long-time Juneau Empire arts editor Amy Fletcher for starting the “bright moments” tradition.
Gigi Monroe, Queen of Juneau Drag
2016 was an incredible year for LGBTQ arts and cultural events in Juneau. Here are some of my personal favorites:
GLITZ! Drag Show during Juneau Pride: I had visions of a HUGE drag show in Juneau for the last few years, but never did I imagine over 500 attendees, in Centennial Hall, with a cast of 15 drag kings and queens! The hilariously disarming hostess, Daphne DoAll LaChores, led the charge of bringing a subculture art form to the big stage for all of Juneau to enjoy.
Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Gold Town Nickelodeon: There is only one way to correctly celebrate Halloween and thanks to Collette Costa at Gold Town, we always have the chance to do it right with an interactive screening of RHPS. It’s not every night that you get to don black fishnets and throw toast at the Gold Town – or is it?
5 Lesbians Eating A Quiche: Juneau-Douglas Little Theatre’s first full-length play in years was a smashing hit at the Hangar Ballroom. The cast of talented Juneau actors brought this hilarious and campy piece to life. Taking a trip back to the 1950s to get a look at the life of lesbian women, the Cold War and the thrill of a well-prepared quiche was quite an enjoyable ride!
Power & Privilege Symposium at UAS: This day-long series of workshops, lectures and community-building activities at UAS was a huge success. Many students and community members participated in delving into a deeper understanding of how power and privilege work in our world. There were several LGBTQ-focused sessions and the highlight was the closing keynote talk by transgender educator and activist (and former Juneauite) Aiden Key.
Two Spirit Reception: This year’s Juneau Pride was planned to overlap one day with Celebration, allowing for a unique event to take place - bringing the LGBTQ and Alaska Native communities together and providing space for LGBTQ or “Two-Spirit” Alaska Natives. A hundred people crammed into Northern Light Church’s community room and shared stories, poetry and thoughts about culture, sexuality, family, gender and community. Tlingit & Haida Central Council’s Rick Peterson, Weaver Ricky Tagaban, Alaska Native Sisterhood’s Freda Westman, and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott spoke to offer their support and leadership. The event concluded as any successful event does - with everyone wanting more.
Honorable mention: The high-camp, cross-dressing, musical number in Perseverance Theater’s “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Four words. Un. For. Gett. Able.
Dick Callahan, Juneau writer and Capital City Weekly “Woodshed Kings” columnist
Skip Wallen’s Whale: This is my favorite statue in the whole world. It’s almost alive. In the snow and rain or when the wind is howling, it’s grand to bicycle by and look at that giant. Thanks to everyone who made this happen.
Kerry Howard’s photography. She just keeps getting better and better, to the point now where we look at nature photos sometimes and think, ‘That looks like one of Kerry Howard’s.’ Then we look at the credits and it is.
Two forty foot dugout canoes by Haines carver Wayne Price, his apprentices and the people of Hoonah. The unbelievable part was when they put a canoe underwater for a night then brought it up and steamed it to separate the gunnels more. What a nail biter to make a hollowed out log two feet wider in the middle without splitting it in half. That was a combination of art and nerve.
The northern lights on August 31. Over a hundred people were out to North Douglas after ten p.m. to watch them, take pictures and say, ‘Wow.’ How many places do you get to do that?
Bruce Wing’s amazing ‘Art of Marine Biology’ Museum. For decades when you found some animal, or part of one, in the ocean that you couldn’t key out, you’d go to the Auke Bay Lab and find Dr. Bruce Wing (1938-2016) in a large room crammed floor to ceiling with specimen bottles, boxes, vats and jars. I once brought in a big fish jawbone, he squinted at it, “Large mouth sculpin.” he said. Then he walked over to a fifty-five gallon drum, popped the lid, reached into the preservative with a gaff and pulled out a fish, “One of these.” His office was a unique and fascinating collection of specimens. In a way he was part of the collection himself: the accessible, old-school scientist — a rare and vanishing species.
PETERSBURG—Chelsea Tremblay, Petersburg writer, reader, bookseller, human
Spring: Petersburg Arts Council hosted the California-based band Dustbowl Revival. They put on a foot-stomping show in the auditorium on a Monday night in May, with folks dancing in the aisles. After the show a few intrepid Petersburg residents convinced them to do a repeat at one of the bars, leading to a packed Tuesday night house at Kito’s Kave. The town shook winter loose with a rousing party to their gleefully talented tunes, culminating with a dance party in the middle of the street under the stars. Did I mention it was a Tuesday?
Summer: As a bookseller, having “Southeast Alaska: A Photographic Passage” from Larisa Manewal and Ernest Manewal, was invaluable. It might be my new favorite photography book of Southeast. Every page of it screams “home.” “The Smell of Other People’s Houses” from Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock was a delightful YA addition to the Alaskan literary canon, and everyone should read it.
Fall: I cried and had a near-spiritual experience reading “Building Fires in the Snow: A Collection of LGBTQ short fiction and poetry” from editors Lucian Childs and Marcia Amore. Being on the margins in a place that is already dangerous is a scary thing, and I felt less alone after reading the tenderly luminous words within. We need more like it with more voices from as many corners of the state as possible, but for the first of its kind it was glorious, and meant the world to me. Locally the Rainforest Festival was a community highlight, as speakers, art openings and community harvesting events highlighted the beauty of our region.
Winter: The month of December is bursting with community arts events in Petersburg. Chief among them was the Nutcracker performance from Mitkof Dance Troupe, formerly Steppin’ Out Studio, with more than 150 local youth participating. The Holiday Literary, with 15 different readings from the community including original work from Petersburg poet Lee Ribich. The Community Winter Concert, with a packed list musical offerings. A solstice lantern walk, where more than 180 paper lanterns were released to the sky. I could go on, but we have a new year to celebrate.
SITKA—Kammie Daniels, Executive Director, Greater Sitka Arts Council
There were so many brilliant, bright moments this year in Sitka’s arts community. All of which are made possible by, and in honor of, our steadfast arts advocates, supporters and sponsors. Five, in no particular order, are:
Sitka Artisans Market: Hosted by the Greater Sitka Arts Council, this community-enhancing retail fair provided the opportunity for Alaskan fine artists and artisans to showcase original, distinctive and carefully crafted wares to the public. A casual favorite turned anticipated holiday classic, the Market offered a refined artistic experience with satisfying local flavor. From the talent and expertise of vendors, to the enthusiasm of guests, to the soft candle ambiance and rich hardwoods of the Richard H. Allen Memorial Hall (located on the historic Sheldon Jackson Campus), The Artisans Market was craftsmanship at its best.
Sitka Wearable Arts Show: A Greater Sitka Arts Council production, the Wearable Arts Show continues to be rank amongst Sitka’s most celebrated community events. Originally inspired by Ketchikan’s runway performance, this event remains an infectious celebration of the DIY world, bringing Sitka’s wealth of ingenuity and talent to the public stage. Handcrafted artwork came alive modeled on the runway: fashion, music, sculpture, engineering, theatrics, and dance all in one magical performance! It was truly an unforgettable event for all ages to enjoy.
The Sitka Summer Music Festival: Sitka was blessed by the power and beauty of classical music in a big way, as the Sitka Summer Music Festival hosted unforgettable performances by the industry’s best. Under the guidance of its skilled directors, Kayla Boettcher and Zuill Bailey, the Festival showcased weeks of stellar programming including groups and artists like the Cypress String Quartet, treasured pianist Doris Stevenson, Jeffrey Solow (cello), Awadagin Pratt (piano), Martin Sher (violin), and more.
Sitka Fine Arts Camp: The summer of 2016 was alive with rhythmic energy and creative power, thanks largely to the Sitka Fine Arts Camp. The Camp’s continued mission to build community in Alaska, by providing opportunities in arts, culture and recreation in an inclusive, educational and inspirational environment, was once again accomplished in the realest sense. Youth of all ages, backgrounds, abilities and interests were welcomed into the Sitka community to experience the arts within a safe and enriching environment of supportive peers, rockstar role models and unmatched earthly beauty.
Radio Adventure Hour: The live, mock-vintage radio original work — produced by the fantastically talented team of GSAC’s Sitka Community Theatre — delivered what could be considered one of the best theatrical productions of 2016. Packed with clever characterizations and the right talent to pull them off, Radio Adventure Hour brought thrilling mystery, deliciously-ridiculous shenanigans and classic comedic timing to a sold-out crowd. Volunteer sound effects engineers that were hauntingly good helped spill this show over to the year’s best and brightest.
Laura Haywood, Juneau Symphony director
“Dona Nobis Pacem” performed by the Juneau Symphony on April 16 and 17. This musical plea for peace by Ralph Vaughan Williams, with poetry by Walt Whitman, was performed by 67 instrumentalists, 73 chorus, two soloists, and the conductor, all on the JDHS stage. It was electrifying.
Afternoon of Aves, May. Juneau Lyric Opera organized this inspiring afternon of song, performed at the Shrine of St Therese. Each of the pieces, from Hail, Holy Queen (from Sister Act) to Schubert’s Ave Maria, was a variant on the Ave Maria prayer. The sweet harmonies in that lovely chapel were enough to make everyone cry — believers and non-believers alike.
A Tribute to the Film Score (June 11 and 12) – Troy Quinn, the new music director of the Juneau Symphony, got to share his love of movie music in this fun tribute to composers like John Williams, Henry Mancini, and Harold Arlen.
Celebration (June) How lucky we are to have this event in Juneau every two years! From the canoes landing in Douglas, to the fashion show, to parades and the new Walter Soboleff Building – so much to take in!
Juneau Bach Society (December 3-4) – After an absence of a couple of years, Juneau audiences were thrilled to welcome back Bruce Simonson’s choir, soloists, and chamber orchestra for an evening of JS Bach and more.
Ben Huff, photographer and Friends of the State Library, Archives and Museum board member
The Alaska Positive photography exhibition and the Rasmuson Alaska Positive retrospective at the State Museum. The Friends of SLAM board had the opportunity to develop photography related programming with lectures and workshops centered around photography. The events have been a great success, and with the Capital City Weekly devoting an issue to photography to coincide with the exhibitions as well, we’re looking forward to exciting new events and programming in the future.
The Woosh Kinaadeiyi spoken word performance at 360 North was remarkable. I’m a little late to the party here, but Ziggy Unzicker, backed by Jacob Pickard, blew my mind that night. Christy NaMee Ericksen is a force, and bringing much love to our small town.
David Woodie’s exhibition of new paintings at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, and his artist talk. His talk was a primer on narrative history in painting, process, and his own history in Alaska. David’s commitment to his art is a model for anyone trying to find their way in the practice of art making, and we’re so fortunate to have him here in Juneau.
Abstract Landscapes by Monica Daugherty at Coppa. Daugherty’s exhibition at The Canvas a few years ago has stayed with me. This Coppa show was a departure to natural landscapes, and proved equally potent.
My last choice is for something I want to see more of in 2017 — the Red Carpet Concerts from KTOO. KTOO, and its partners, have co-opted a simple idea, given it an local Alaskan twist, and kept it simple and perfect.
Vivian Faith Prescott, Wrangell writer and artist
The Dugout Canoe Project began in February of this year. As a part of Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Jinéit Art Academy and in partnership with the Sitka National Historic Park, carvers Tommy Joseph (Tlingit), T.J. Young (Haida), Nick Galanin (Tlingit/Unangan), and Jerrod Galanin (Tlingit/Unangan), under the mentorship of Steve Brown (adopted Kiks.adi) began a carving mentor apprentice to build a dugout canoe. The 28 foot cedar log was transformed into a dugout canoe over the period of nine months in the carving shed at the Sitka National Historical Park. After completion it was steamed at Eagle Beach and after it dries completely it will be painted. A dedication ceremony is planned for spring of 2017.
The Flying Island Storytelling Event at the Stikine River Bird Festival in Wrangell featured bird themed stories and poetry by locals and guest storyteller and filmmaker, Mary Wheeler Goddard, from Sitka, Alaska. 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, and Pipits and more.
In April, the Tidelines Journey brought artists and writers to nine communities on the Alaska Marine Highway route. The tour was sponsored by Sitka’s Island Institute with the goal of exploring the impacts and implication of climate change on culture, lifestyle, heritage and economies in Southeast Alaska. In Wrangell the tour included a community conversation at the Elks Lodge, radio broadcasts, school activities, and an artist performance at Chief Shakes Tribal House.
Weavers Across the Water was envisioned by Clarissa Rizal (who recently passed away) and artist/writer Susie Williams. Rizal and Williams, in addition to 40 weavers from the Pacific Northwest, completed small Chilkat and Raven’s Tail weaved squares that were sewn together to create a dance robe. The robe was finished in time for the Xuna Shuká Hít Tribal House dedication in Glacier Bay on August 25th. The concept behind the robe is to serve as a community ceremonial robe and further the knowledge of weaving. Evergreen State College in Washington currently houses the robe and from there the robe will travel to cultural events and workshops throughout Canada and Alaska.
Sitka Stands with Standing Rock. In November Sitkans gathered at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Kaa Kahídi for yoga, commentary, letter writings, food, and an art auction to raise support for the water protectors at Standing Rock. The community sent traditional foods like dried seaweed, venison jerky, and smoked salmon to Standing Rock.
Mandy Mallott, Juneau Arts and Humanities Council Education Committee Chair
2016 started off in a powerful and inspiring way for us with Vera Starbard’s play “Our Voices Will Be Heard”. The play made a difficult and often controversial topic into a unifying story about the power of one voice, and the strength of a mother. Vera used writing, and specifically this play, as an instrument of her own journey of healing from incest and abuse. But she made this a community project by holding numerous “Healing Through Storytelling” workshops across the state, teaching artists and novices alike — over 150 participants in Juneau alone — how to turn their trauma and pain into tools for personal health.
As we mourn losing beloved friends and culture bearers Teri Rofkar and Clarissa Rizal, we find brightness and light as we celebrate their similar approaches to living life with beauty, bright smiles and purpose. Their gifts of weaving traditions and techniques, and artistic ways will continue to grace us all.
Juneau’s Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child initiative continued work in 2016 on collectively identifying and implementing community priorities for arts in education, and welcomed Jen LaRoe, Education Director at the JAHC, as coordinator. Arts excursions to local venues for all students within a grade level offer an opportunity to enrich classroom learning in a meaningful and equitable way.
Celebration 2016 — what a joyful time for all as old and new songs, regalia and dancers danced, drummed and sang!
2016 marked the first year of Juneau’s Artful Teaching project, integrating the arts and local culture into Juneau’s classrooms. It is a collaborative effort between the Juneau School District, the University of Alaska Southeast, the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and the Canvas, providing teachers with professional development and practice in arts integration. It’s empowering and memorable to see teachers and students alike respond to learning subject areas like math, language arts, and science through art and culture!
Melissa Garcia Johnson, Juneau facilitator
“Our Voices Will Be Heard” at Perseverance Theatre: This sobering, moving show was a powerful way to kick off 2016. It examined generational trauma, domestic violence, and resilience. It spoke to the power of women and mothers. It moved me to tears and I am grateful for the show’s ability to make these difficult topics more approachable and visible.
Celebration 2016: Having moved to Juneau two years ago, Celebration 2016 was my first time experiencing Celebration. As a Juneau “newbie,” I was overwhelmed (in the best of ways!) with all that this year’s Celebration offered in terms of classes, markets, dance groups, and much, much more.
Racial Justice and Anti-Violence: A Creative Conversation: This event, which was coordinated in collaboration with a number of local artists and facilitators, brought together more than one hundred participants to continue conversations around racial justice and violence. It was inspiring to see so many community members gather and challenge themselves to examine their own privileges and their place in creating a safer, healthier Juneau (and beyond).
“Power and Privilege Symposium” at UAS: Full disclosure — I wasn’t actually able to attend the Symposium because I was traveling. BUT! If I had been in Juneau, I surely would have gone. The Symposium featured some of the most talented, knowledgeable experts in their field to discuss issues related to race, gender, class, culture, art, and the like. Again, it’s amazing and important to see conversations and events like this continue on in Juneau. I’m eagerly awaiting next year’s event.
‘Moonlight’ at the Gold Town Nickelodeon: I was beyond excited when I heard the Gold Town Nick was bringing “Moonlight” to Juneau. The film exquisitely chronicles the struggle of a young man, born and raised in Miami, as he faces issues related to sexuality, masculinity, friendship, race, drug use, poverty, and incarceration. Not only is a story like this so rare and precious to see on the big screen, but the soundtrack tied the whole thing together.
MK MacNaughton, Juneau artist and owner of Sketch Studio
Two plays that I thought were exceptional this year were Hold These Truths and Our Voices will be Heard. Thanks to Perseverance Theatre for making space for such important work, and for the playwrights and actors for telling these difficult stories so beautifully.
Woosh Kinaadeiyí’s Spring Showcase was breathtakingly fantastic. The spoken word artists sharing their work blew me away with talent and love.
Playboy Spaceman’s summer album release party was FUN! I haven’t danced like that in a thousand years. Great music, great people.
Working with Julie Diana and Zachary Hench at Juneau Dance Theatre to paint a backdrop for the Nutcracker was one of my personal favorite projects this year. We are so lucky to have these talented, kind dancers inspiring our town.
Gigi Monroe is an amazing artist and mentor as the Queen of Drag in Juneau. Her talent as a performer is ROYAL. And I love that she supports emerging artists. The spring showcase was fantastic, and she hosted about a million additional events this year.
And best of all, I appreciate all of the students who I am lucky enough to work with. There is nothing more joyful to me than creating with other people, kids and grown-ups alike. I hope everybody will do something creative in 2017. Invent, repurpose, design, build, illustrate, express... try something new!
Jim Hale, Juneau writer and “On Writing” columnist
Top of the list: the Lysander Trio’s performance of Ravel’s Piano Trio in A Minor. Coincidentally, I had just heard this piece about a month earlier on the soundtrack of a documentary on one of my favorite poets. I had no idea what the piece was, so I went to The Source, Todd Hunt, Juneau’s go-to guy for Classical Music. I had no sooner discovered this piece when I learned that the Lysander Trio would be performing it. And it was nothing short of amazing. A wonderful piece performed by a wonderful trio. I now have three versions of this Ravel piece in my CD collection, but the Lysander Trio’s is still my favorite.
Shakespeare’s First Folio. Thanks to Claire Imamura and everyone at the Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, & Museum for bringing the Folio here to celebrate the opening of the new Museum building. What a great opportunity for Juneau to see this iconic book.
Finally, and best of all in my mind, we welcomed Johann Sebastian Bach back to Juneau in the persons of Bruce Simonson and the Bach Society and a winter concert of concertos by Corelli and Bach and a Bach cantata introduced by Bruce with great passion and deep knowledge. Thanks to all the musicians involved for the most wonderful winter concert I’ve heard in a long time.
Christine Carpenter, Juneau graphic artist
Playboy Spaceman Halloween Skull Party - It’s not Halloween without going in full costume to the Playboy Spaceman Halloween concert, and it didn’t disappoint again this year. This goes on my list every year, as I think it’s important to not only support and acknowledge the amazing local talent, but this concert really has become tradition after just a short time.
The Andrew P. Kashavaroff Building Opening - I’m so honored to live in a city that takes such pride in its role of housing the Alaska State Museum, Libraries, and Archives. The opening of the new building was a project years in the making, and it didn’t disappoint. Watching people moving through the spaces, I saw their faces light up to see the beautiful care that was treated in the artistry of the building, the displaying of public art, and the careful curation of the museum’s collections. If you haven’t been in the new building, you need to check it out!
Alaska Robotics Artist Camp Retreat - I’m biased, but I was really proud of Pat (Race), Aaron (Suring), and the Alaska Robotics Crew for putting together this great retreat. After a super successful Comic Convention here in Juneau, more than thirty artists, designers, and musicians from around the world gathered for three days at the Methodist Camp out the road. It was amazing to witness these creative people share and discuss the challenges and opportunities, the pleasures and frustrations, and the techniques and resources that are present in the artist community.
JACC Naughty-or-Nice Party - This year, the JAHC Holiday fundraiser took a new spin, turning the JACC into a night at the carnival. People could purchase tickets to play mini-golf, the ring-toss, or discover their epic elf name. There was a beard competition, and the Flustered Cluckers sang some great holiday songs.
Juneau’s Activism - I have been moved by the many acts of kindness Juneau has been making in the wake of the recent election. From peaceful candlelight vigils to protests on the Capital’s steps, from people’s pledges to local philanthropic and social organizations to secret Facebook groups, it’s been beautiful to witness these efforts. Regardless of your political beliefs, there’s no denying we all can benefit from Juneau’s work for more tolerance, grace, and human decency.
Clara Miller, Capital City Weekly staff writer
This was a big year for the Empty Chair Project. In the spring, they brought up New York Times bestselling author Jamie Ford, who wrote the historical novel “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” and children’s writer Kirby Larson, author of “Dash” (which won the Scott O’Dell award for historical fiction) to Juneau to speak at local schools and do public book signings. Both books deal with the Japanese-American internment during World War Two. The Empty Chair Project and the National Park Service purchased copies of the books for local school use as well as other fiction and non-fiction books for the Empty Chair Collection.
The Empty Chair Project Committee member Karleen Grummett published “Quiet Defiance: Alaska’s Empty Chair Story” which details the internment of Juneau’s Japanese-Americans and the city’s response. Free copies were given out on October’s First Friday and copies were also sent to libraries and schools around Alaska; one person requested a copy from as far as Hawaii. On writing the book, Grummett said “Besides achieving a little justice for what happened to our friends and neighbors and telling the story of how Juneau responded, I hope it serves as a cautionary tale to educate people about what happened to a group of Americans without due process of law because if we’re not diligent, it could happen again, especially in the current climate of terrorism and the fear it engenders.”
There was a public showing of “The Empty Chair,” a documentary made by Greg Chaney to preserve the memory of the injustice Juneau’s Japanese-Americans faced, a film that visually tells the story Grummett does in her book. “We are at the twilight of memory,” he said, describing the importance of collecting the stories of the internment from those who lived it before they are no longer with us to recall them. This film was also shown at the Japanese American National Museum.
Seeing “Man of La Mancha,” put on by Juneau Lyric Opera was a real treat. From the fantastic vocal performances, to the impressive set (they built the descending staircase – how cool is that!), it was a stellar production. I got chills hearing the “The Impossible Dream.”
Also I want to give a massive shout out to Juneau-Douglas High School’s Theatre Department for their “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” production. For my younger sister and I, it’s a favorite, especially for her. I was so curious how they planned to pull off some of the dance sequences (the barn-raising dance and subsequent fist-fight-turned-all-out-brawl, anyone?) but I walked away impressed and also with a bruise on my side from how many times my sister elbowed me in her gleeful excitement during the show. Also, Lydia Smith — in case no one else told you — your Millie stole the show.
Mary Catharine Martin, Capital City Weekly editor
I told friends in January 2016 that I already knew Vera Starbard’s play Our Voices Will be Heard, produced at Perseverance Theatre, was going to be at the top of this list for me. It still is. It was brave, powerful, and necessary — all things that make for incredible art. I’m so excited to see what she writes in the next three years as Perseverance’s playwright-in-residence.
The return of the Huna Tlingit to their homeland in Glacier Bay for the dedication of Xunaa Shuká Hít. Everything about this event was an absolute privilege and pleasure to write about. Watching the carving and steaming of two forty-foot dugout canoes created by lead carver Wayne Price and apprentices Zack James, James Hart, and Steven Price. Reporting for the last few years on the incredibly skilled, and emotive, carvings inside the Huna tribal house, Xunaa Shuká Hít, created by lead carver Gordon Greenwald, Owen James, and Herb Sheakley. Speaking with Chilkat and Ravenstail weaver Clarissa Rizal about the Weavers Across the Water robe she spearheaded and which more than 40 weavers from across the coast contributed to, and seeing Wayne Price dance in that robe. Seeing the community of Hoonah, the National Park Service, and the community of Gustavus come together to welcome all four of Glacier Bay’s original clans back. Watching those canoes paddle out of the mist after their three-day voyage from Hoonah. It was an important, powerful homecoming long in the making, and it showed. The dedication of the Jilkaat Kwaan Cultural Heritage and Bald Eagle Preserve Visitor Center in Klukwan, in May, and the restoration and rededication of Naay i’Waans (Kasaan’s Whale House) in September were also huge highlights.
The opening of the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives and Museum building and First Folio. This was one of the first big events put on by the new SLAM building — an incredible space that’s already been host to some pretty cool events and shows in its first year of operation. First Folio is one of them. To love stories is to love Shakespeare, and it was really neat to see one of the original physical compilations of his work. Jim Hale’s talk was a real highlight, and Theatre in the Rough’s marathon readings of the plays in the Folio were pretty great as well.
“Racial Justice and Anti-Violence: A Creative Conversation.” This event, organized by friends Melissa Garcia Johnson and Christy NaMee Eriksen, brought together people around Juneau to discuss a very difficult topic.
An especially powerful part of the event was a reading from teenager and poet Skylar Wright, who this year moved to Juneau from Sitka.
Many people from around the Juneau community attended the conversation, including police chief Bryce Johnson, who said “No matter how you look at it, it’s important that we talk about this stuff.” He’s right.
My final item sounds cheesy to say, but it’s true — the privilege of being the editor of the Capital City Weekly. We’re Southeast Alaska’s art and culture publication, which basically give me the best job description ever. For the last three years, the first two as CCW staff writer, it’s been wonderful interviewing and working with so many talented and passionate artists, organizers, teachers, writers, and Southeast residents, and getting to travel to and/or learn from our talented freelancers about some of the most important arts and culture events in Southeast Alaska. I’m looking forward to 2017.