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Travel and Culture: Juneau, Alaska, part 3-
            1st Friday Artists, Theater, Scenery

By Cornelia Seckel
arttimesjournal May 20, 2017

This was a fabulous trip and I've a lot to write about including: Juneau history, arts and peoples, ArtWalk and Artists in Juneau, Native Alaskans, Artists in Haines, Arts and Culture in Haines accompanied by some gorgeous videos and pictures. So come back to read this continuing travelogue. Much of my travels can be found on my blog and selected images on instagram

Part 1,
Part 2

Donna Catotti’s exhibition “Keeping the Tradition” was at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center (JACC), a local non-profit that is home to the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council and various local and regional artists. The facility offers a location for artists to show work in the gallery, sell work in the lobby shop, and rent space to offer a variety of workshops and performances. The exhibition was excellent and a success. Several pieces sold and future commissions lined up. Donna is the Alaska ambassador for the Portrait Society and she is curating a Portrait Society Alaska-members-only show at the Sheldon Museum in Haines, AK, opening June 2 and running through July 30. She also hosts summer portrait workshops in Haines with Studio Incamminati instructors out of Philadelphia. There will be much more in the future about Donna, her work, her collaborations with husband Rob Goldberg and his work as an artist and luthier.

Donna Catotti (l) and Nancy DeCherney (r), JACC Director

Visitors enjoying Donna Catotti's show at
Juneau Arts & Culture Center (JACC)

As it was first Friday numerous art studios and galleries were open. This phenonemon of one day of the weekend opening studios and galleries for an "art walk" can be found wherever there is a concentration of artists.

Cornelia Seckel and Heidi Robertson enjoying the mud bath at Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs in Calistoga, CA.   Haa Shagoon Studio/ Gallery, featuring artists Ray Peck, John Evans, Rudy Isturis, and Don Morgan (seated) is a shared studio/ gallery space where you can see Native artists carving, painting, and drawing.
Work is mostly on consignment or by people who work at the gallery. As Don and I were speaking he told me he often goes to New York to visit his brother who lives upstate. Of course I asked where and as it turns out, his brother is a musician and lives in the same town I do near Woodstock, NY






John Chapman has the “Picture This” shop and was very helpful in telling me about the artscene in Juneau.

Arnie Weimer, featured artist at Annie Kraill’s, est. 1975, has Alaskan artwork, handmade pottery and stoneware, glassware and art glass, local jewelry paintings and sculpture

Sketch Studio, MK MacNaughton lives in Juneau. In addition to landscape paintings and charcoal drawings, MK makes giclée prints, cards, ornaments, and hand-painted t-shirts at her studio. Art catering classes are available by appointment (more info about art catering on website).
Della Cheney is a Tlingit & Haida artist.
I met her at Sealaska Heritage where she was giving a demonstration of weaving traditional hats. She is a delightful woman who teaches weaving, writes and gives talks about the Native American experience and culture.

Chef Stef— Stefani Marnon
  Cornelia Seckel and Heidi Robertson enjoying the mud bath at Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs in Calistoga, CA.
Thyes Shaub, member and jeweler

The Juneau Artists Gallery is an artist co-op established in 1985 and has 23 artists who exhibit and work in the gallery. Open year round, it is a place where local people shop as well as the thousands of tourists that visit each day. While I was there speaking with Thyes Shaub, member and jeweler, several people came in and made purchases. The work in the gallery was excellent and beautifully displayed. The artist of the month while I was there was Chef Stef— Stefani Marnon featuring her spruce tip salted caramels and other delicious culinary delights. As we got into conversation I learned that she was originally from Queens in a town not too far from where I grew up. She then introduced me to some friends and, perhaps it was because of their names, I asked about a Jewish community. There is a small Jewish Community Sukkat Shalom, with 35 families and is led by a visiting student Rabbi. There are services, a religious school, educational programs, Tot Shabbats, B’nai Mitzvah preparation and opportunities to have a destination B’nai Mitzvah service.

~ ~ ~

Exploring Juneau with Donna I met up with Donna a few days before her show opened. Donna and I had been corresponding for well over year after she invited me to come to Alaska (I met her at the Catharine Lorillard Wolf Art Club's annual exhibition in New York City) to explore her community of Haines and the vast number of creative people that were born and/or moved here. We spent 5 days in Juneau and she was an excellent tour guide.

Mendenhall Glacier, 13.6 miles long, is one of many glaciers of the Juneau Icefield, and one of the most visited glaciers in Alaska. As I was sitting on the silt from the glacier it seemed like a lot of beaches I’ve been on and found some beautiful stones that I brought home. I could have sat there all day listening to Nugget Falls, enjoying the mist— so refreshing, cool and sprinkling. I heard many different languages as people took pictures and enjoyed sunbathing. A very long ice float goes by, must be the length of a football field….

Donna and I met with a delightful Park Ranger who spoke with us about the glacier. The glacier loses 400-500 feet a year. The lesson is to do one thing to make the earth greener…. and rewrite the story. The United States Forest Service operates the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center as part of the Tongass National Forest and offers interpretive programs for children and adults. The center is open year-round and receives close to 500,000 visitors each year, many coming by cruise ship in summer. This was the first U.S. Forest Service visitor center built in the nation and dedicated in 1962.

Towards the end of Glacier Highway, Juneau, Alaska

When we left the glacier we drove north as far as we could along Glacier Highway. The road in Juneau is just 40 miles, because the 1,500 square-mile ice field, rugged mountains and ocean land lock Juneau, making it accessible only by air or boat. One person did point out the other alternative was to be born or die in Juneau— another way in and out. We passed Eagle Beach where many thousands of eagles (the densest population of Bald Eagles in the US) and other wildlife come to feast -and be feasted upon. At the far end of the road we saw The Kensington Mine, an historic underground gold mine, discovered in the mid 1890s and operated till about 1928. In Coeur Alaska Inc. acquired the property renewing operations and at this point over 300 people are employed.

A beautiful ride, a spectacular day seeing gorgeous landscapes. Frankly, I couldn’t stop taking pictures…..

Sandy Beach, Douglas, Alaska

Across the Gastineau Channel from Juneau is Douglas Island 17 x 8 miles (several miles longer and much wider than Manhattan which is 13.4 miles x 2.3 miles). The bridge makes it very accessible to Juneau. Donna and I were heading to the Perseverance Theatre to see Peter and the Starcatcher. As we were early we stopped for a walk along Sandy Beach, created by the tailings from the huge Treadwell gold mine, which produced over 3 million ounces of gold between 1881 and 1922. 

This regional theater, founded in 1979 by Molly Smith, is Alaska’s largest professional theater—their mission is to create professional theatre by and for Alaskans. Art Rotch is the current Executive Artistic Director. Subscriptions to productions and a great variety of classes, camps internships and many other educational programs are available in both Anchorage and Juneau. Coming up is The Snow Child which runs in Anchorage, May 25-27, 2018, and in Juneau, June 9-10, 2018. See for current season. Perseverance Theatre was the recipient of the Kennedy Center’s Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child program, a program to assist communities in developing and implementing a plan for expanded arts education in their schools. 300 8th graders benefited from this program. The production of Peter and the Starcatcher was excellent. Acting, staging, directing, choreography, costumes, and sets were all excellent.

Check back for more about this outstanding trip and the fine people I met on my blog and selected images on instagram

Part 1,
Part 2