With the spring break travel being thwarted and stock markets plummeting, all in response to the uncertainty over the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and possible shortages because of breakdowns in overseas manufacturing and supply routes, two venues celebrated National Youth Art Month, proving Anchorage aesthetic students and teachers are determined to work through any crisis to showcase art.
Under the direction of Linn Weeda, AYS energetically played an arrangement of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl.’ Their innovative Brass Ensemble played John Philip Sousa’s ‘Liberty Bell March,’ which became the theme to ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-1974)’; nostalgia for baby-boomers in the audience, who remembered British satire as needed comic relief in the closing years of the Vietnam War. The Pièces-de-résistance were two South Anchorage soloists who dazzled with their poise and skills. Just like a painter whose brush becomes an extension of an arm, Abigail Webster was fused to her French horn, as she played Gliére’s ‘Concerto for Horn and Orchestra in Bb Major, Opus 91,’with gusto. Then, like a star athlete, Heather Kim ran up and down the PAC’s grand piano keys for Grieg’s ‘Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A Minor, Opus 16’. Her hands sprinted like a short-distance runner, while jumping and crossing like a track star navigating hurdles.
Anchorage School District’s 48th Annual Art Show (March 6-April 5)
The Anchorage Museum is hosting the main venue of ‘Take a Journey through Art’. Once again, the ASD dazzled with a kaleidoscope of hues, Alaska birds, animals and self-portraits. However, four pieces shouted at me because they were not only well constructed, but addressed contemporary contextual social issues.
Turnagain Elementary — Celene Aussavavilai’s ‘Reflection of Buildings (Grade 2, teacher, C, Lewando)’may depict dwellings near a water source, but the piece alludes to Climate Change, which is raising water levels and eroding shoreline buildings. Aussavavilai has a keen sense of color, as analogous red and green houses pull the painted work together. Water is gently indicated with minimal chalk lines, as not to obscure the aqueous reflections, all of which are impressionistic enough to feel genuine. Houses are not McMansions, but simple domiciles, that are typically not only in flood zones; owners are less likely to have the means to relocate without obtaining problematic federal funding.
Rilke Schule, German School of Arts and Sciences — Lydia Wang’s ‘The Asian Winter Girl (Grade 5, teacher J. Doniere)’ displays red tones against jet black hair. The model wears earphones uniting all kids, who incessantly listen to similar popular music worldwide. The facial covering might be a scarf to keep out the cold Alaska winter? Wang probably made this before the Coronavirus panic, but how accidently to the point this work appears, as masks have become virus tropes which may or may not keep out germs. The covering also serves as a barrier between her and the viewer. I applaud Wang, who might not be aware she bravely tackled serious narratives. Discrimination, especially bestowed onto children, is even more unacceptable. Coronavirus is global and doesn’t care what your ethnicity is, or your socioeconomic ranking, and yes, it can vault walls. Maybe this virus will finally teach us what it means to be a decent human?
Winterberry Charter--Erin Lippy’s ‘Embroidered Backpack (Grade 7, fibers, teacher S. Robicheaux)’ displays an understanding of strong color primaries, as the dominant lime green fabric shows-off the magenta patch, while the mustard flap looks down upon a royal blue pocket. A safari scene with an elephant and two giraffes is embroidered on the yellow top, as more thread impressionistically stitched on the blue space below, unites this Wild Kingdom-esque theme. Thread as craft, more and more becoming fine art, is synonymous with female artisans, past and present. Waste, especially from non-recyclables, is another Global Warming sub-text. Look, what you can do with bits of cloth remade into a handsome carryall.
Scholastic Art and Writing awards sponsored by Young Emerging Artists (https://youngemergingartistsalaska.org/) is a show-within-a-show. Dimond High’s Hillary Fujimoto’s ‘Mommy, I Need You (Grade 12, pencil, teacher, C. Lickingteller)’ challenges Form and Content, as a female adolescent stressfully hangs onto an oversized bathroom door, while perched on a toilet. Fujimoto’s black/white grade scale is in perfect balance as is the overall composition. The curly hair, checked shirt and pulled-down accordion-esque jeans contrast with the cold porcelain toilet and adjacent sink, while the wooden door becomes the mediating middle ground. Adding to the drama, the door acts like a vacant picture frame that once held the image of the immobilized teen, adding to the drama. Onlookers can also feel the weight of the girl’s buttocks pressing against the toilet seat. Why does this young lady need her mom in the potty? Is she ill from food poisoning (teens have erratic food choices), periodic cramping, a miscarriage, even an aborted pregnancy? Most teens don’t want moms to invade their privacy, especially in the john. Does she have a good relationship with her mother or is she forced to give up her pseudo-independence and yell for help? This piece haunts as Fujimoto bravely lets the viewer into the life of a female teen. Good Job to all four artists. Keep on Sleuthing for art.
Mini Sleuth: More ‘Take a Journey through Art’ can be found at Anchorage City Hall, Chugiak-Eagle River Municipal Library, Z.J. Loussac Municipal Library and Midtown Mall. And try-outs are open for AYS’ Fall, 2020-2021 season, which has two new performance arenas. Brass Ensemble allows orchestra members to jazz it up. ‘Family Summer Symphony’ will occur this summer. There’s required registration; no auditions; anyone can apply. Contact Denise: 907.538.6406 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch for AYO’s final May concert.
Jean Bundy is the Climate Change Envoy for AICA-INT.