With national and local politicians driving the rational mad, becoming absorbed in the arts is the perfect prescription for sanity. Recycling and caring for the environment is becoming one of art’s latest themes, both here and outside Alaska. It’s a way to visualize that caring for the earth is no longer just a silly whim. Greater respect for different nationalities and cultures that make our earth vibrant and beautiful is another aesthetic trope for the upcoming year. Here are my favorite autumn picks, along with poignant information, making your fall uber-aesthetic.

I Love the Anchorage Museum!

Autumn kicks off with the Museum 2019 Gala (September 28, 6:30p.m.) featuring a gourmet dinner, and auctioned treasures/adventures (Ph: 907.929.9226; it’s ticketed). Anchorage Design Week (October 4-12) runs the gamut from academic lectures to finger foods and fun. From architecture to fashion, furniture to food, Design Week features the best of the local design scene alongside international perspectives, and includes the Alaska division of American Institute of Architects Convention along with installations by Canadian artist/designer Tiffany-Shaw Collinge. Halloween (3-6pm) at the Museum features trick-or-treat in the galleries. Wear a costume and don’t be spooked by the cookies and witches brew in the atrium. Great Wide Open Party (Nov 2, 8pm-1am) celebrates Anchorage distinct urban wilderness, with food, music, and participatory activities. Wilderness Week(November 5-9) continues the narrative about Anchorage’s distinct position as an urban space in the Circumpolar North and ideas of wilderness and wild places. Thanksgiving Weekend-- Polar Bazaar and ReadAlaska Book Fair (November 29, 30) is a great place to entertain out-of- town holiday guests, who can purchase locally made gifts, while enjoying afternoon tea and confections with long-lost friends. Museum’s Adam Baldwin confirms the bazaar will feature: art, fashion, design, craft, vinyl stickers, snow-celebration objects, books and other creative publications, recycled and upcycled items, polar vendors, a repair workshop, and entrepreneurial products and ventures.

Ongoing exhibitions include Alaskans and Salmon (thru January 19, 2020). Salmon culture is embedded into the life of Alaska taking on many forms: commerce/tourism, subsistence and sport fishing. What Why How We Eat (thru January 12, 2020) connects Alaskans to each other through fish, fiddleheads, salmonberries, and continually popular Spam. Growing veggies in your home year round just got easier, as demonstrated in this exhibition.

Upcoming exhibitions begin with Intersections (Nov 1-March 15, 2020) by Aslaug Magdalena Juliessen about reflections on her life in Northern Norway and everyday experiences with the Arctic Landscape. The Museum’s relationship with Scandinavian artists enriches Alaska’s ties to our Arctic community. Scandinavians are leading the way when employing Climate Change into their projects. Snow Flyers (November 22-April 5, 2020), celebrates the ways we recreate and travel on snow and showcases how Northern ingenuity has for centuries inspired people to adapt winter gear, equipment and machinery for survival, sport and transportation. Of note: I will be reviewing these shows as they open.

Art lovers who enjoy Formal and Conceptual Museum experiences have the privilege of getting to know award winning Chef Laura Cole and her culinary masterpieces at the Muse Atrium Café and restaurant. A great way to spend First Friday gallery crawling is to end the evening at MUSE which will be adding more dining events after mid-September. All Cole’s ingredients are hand-crafted, promoting locally grown and raised ingredients. Periodically, she plans to present gourmet chefs at the restaurant. During our personal fall aesthetic kick-off husband Dave and I headed for September’s First Friday at MUSE, where we were truly spoiled as we sipped Pinot Grigio, while spreading herbal butter onto homemade bread. Next we sampled Smashed Alaskan Potatoes sprinkled with Arugula and Parmesan, dripping with Balsamic. Then we immersed ourselves in Alaskan Chive-wrapped-Scallops, with crème fraiche and prosciutto perched on potato medallions, adjacent to haricot. The scallops were perfectly seared, not overcooked-tough. Large cups of coffee complemented the Rustic Roasted Fruit Tart. Vanilla ice cream sat on folded pastry crust, while blended apples, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries oozed around a rolled up sugar cookie, a perfect way to celebrate our 52nd anniversary. Chef Cole and her staff are efficient, creative, unusually approachable, and the variety of artistically coordinated menu choices, with attention to color and texture, would cost far more in a major lower-48 metropolis. Polar Nights (Friday, After Hours 6-9pm) just reopened with gallery tours, food, films, the planetarium, and atrium gaming-- a fun way to begin the weekend after an arduous work/school week.

Coming out Spring, 2020 is Arctic Crashes: ‘People and Animals in the Changing North’ edited byIgor Krupnik and Aron Crowell. Crowell is the Arctic Studies Director for the Smithsonian wing of the Anchorage Museum. This will be a useful tool for artists who are incorporating science into projects. Climate Change/art has become my passion; I am excited to read Crowell’s book, and incorporate the information into my paintings.

The Anchorage Museum offers classes: iPhones, dance, sewing, cooking-gardening, docent tours, sleepovers, science for kids, repair workshops---all calendared on their website. Joining the Museum or giving a gift membership (especially for those who have everything) is the best way to guarantee you and your friends don’t miss the fun of optical learning. One of my great pleasures in bringing art commentary to the Anchorage Press is to immerse myself in one particular subject and material at the Museum, and then move on to something else unique and different—you can do it too. Please check, as some classes are free; some are ticketed; Museum members enjoy a discount; always check dates and times too-- (Ph. 907.929. 9200 and www. anchoragemuseum.org). Don’t forget to patronize the Museum Store which has quality toys, Alaskana/art books, Native jewelry/carvings, t-shirts and bags—uncommon giving throughout the year.

More of the Sleuth’s Favorite Art Venues

In spite of a problematic summer, the University of Alaska, Anchorage soldiered on. UAA’s Kimura Gallery exhibition: Our Plastic Ocean, Our Clean Ocean (September 3-October 4, 10am-5pm) introduces Dr. Herminia Din, and Astor Lai with their upcoming pop-up book which demonstrates not only how our ocean pollution problem came to be, but why we must find solutions as quickly as possible. Most importantly, it demonstrates what we can do right now to be part of those solutions. UAA’s ARC Gallery (Consortium Library) Made of Stone (September 3-October 4) highlights DeRocchi and Green who move, beyond an anthrocentric perspective, to reveal how humans affect the other animate and inanimate inhabitants we share the land with—from the damage found on a beach or the foolhardiness of geoengineering. The show speaks of materiality and how we think towards the future. Over at the UAA Campus Bookstore, Rachel Epstein continuously orchestrates book talks that often feature art and history tomes about Alaska. Getting on her email only requires a phone call (Ph: 907.786.1151) and is well worth it.

The AFN Convention (October 17-19) is in Fairbanks this year. Plan a nice autumn weekend and discover a great venue for buying Native jewelry, clothing and carvings-- (www.nativefederation.org/convention/).

Blaines Art (Ph. 907.561.5344) on Benson sells high quality paints/ brushes and canvas, and offers non-credit art classes. Remember, buying markers, pencils and a variety of textured papers continue to be great gifting throughout the winter.

I gravitate to the visual arts but if theatrical productions suit your fancy or you enjoy: traveling musicals, concerts, opera, symphony—Go For It! And don’t forget, Anchorage Youth Symphony (www.alaskayouthorchestras.org) great evenings to begin enjoying classical music. The arts enhance our city and curious citizens participate as well as financially support these precious organizations. The Sleuth insists that everybody have an aesthetic fall 2019!

Mini Sleuth: Some verbiage taken from Anchorage Museum, and UAA press releases.

Jean Bundy aica-usa is a writer/painter living in Anchorage

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