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Comments Off on Artist Profile: Rico Lanáat’ Worl

Artist Profile: Rico Lanáat’ Worl

| Artist Profile | July 29, 2021

On July 30, 2021, the U.S. Postal Service is releasing “Raven Story” – a new “Forever” stamp designed by Southeast Alaska Tlingit artist Rico Lanáat’ Worl.

Sitting at his computer in Sitka’s Sheldon Jackson Museum (he was artist-in-residence in mid-July), Worl shared how “Raven Story” came to be.

A few years ago, Antonio Alcala, an art director for the U.S.P.S., discovered some “Trickster Company” artwork at the National Museum of the American Indian and reached out to Worl. “Trickster Company” is the name of the family business started by Worl and his sister Crystal.

Worl chose “the ‘Box of Light’ as the foundational story that conveys basic info about Raven, a very common figure in Tlingit stories.” As a child, Worl remembers seeing the ‘Box of Daylight’ video produced by the Naa Kahídi theater, “and, of course, I read and heard the story out loud many times.”

“A time ago there was no celestial light. People lived in darkness. Raven heard of a chieftain who owned a collection of items of great light… Raven and the chieftain’s daughter had a baby raven. In that child’s youth, he loved the boxes…which held the sun, the moon, and the stars. A grandparent’s love is immeasurable. He let Raven play with the box of daylight. Raven brought the sun, the moon, and the stars to the universe.”

For Worl, the stamp “depicts a moment of climax in one of (Raven’s) heists. Raven is trying to grab as many stars as he can, some stuck in his feathers and in his hands or in his beak. Some falling around him. It’s a frazzled moment of adrenaline. Partially still in human form… as he carries the stars away. I think it’s a moment we all have experienced, the cusp of failure and accomplishment.” The artist wants “to continue people’s engagement and help them to learn.

Raven’s Tlingit name is “yéil” – the “ei” is pronounced like “a” and to pronounce the “ell” sound, said Worl, you first shape your mouth like an “ell” and then “take your voice out and just push air through your lips.”

How was working with the U.S.P.S.? “I created some drafts and sent them to the art director, who worked with the Stamp Approval Committee and did a good job of advocating for me. Six months of drawings, sketches and back-and-forth, till we got the final design.”

Only recently has Worl “expected the title of ‘artist’. Creativity is integral to our culture. Most of my work comes out of my anthropology and design studies (U of PA) – crafting a tool for its purpose, having contact with museums and old masterworks.” Living in Juneau, Worl works closely with Sealaska Heritage Institute, whose art department he originated.

“My education helped me define a lot of the cultural issues surrounding art, for our community. We can actually go in there and create our own market.”

Lest anyone doubt Worl’s relationship with Raven, they have only to  look at his right arm. Ravens frolic down its length, thanks to Dave Lang (of High Tide Tattoo Shop in Juneau).

“I credit most of my success to ‘playing’ – Raven playing in the wind on my shoulder was the first tattoo. Other Ravens coming down the arm represent me and my community, a variety of people I have learned from.”

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Comments Off on Artist Profile: Jerrod Galanin

Artist Profile: Jerrod Galanin

| Artist Profile | March 25, 2021

Jerrod Galanin was born in 1977. These days he lives with his wife Brit, nine-year-old Arya, ten-year-old Ruby and their four-month-old son. Their full house looks out over the ocean and other creatures who make their home on the ocean. That water and that wildlife are where Galanin gets much of his inspiration.

Galanin is the Sitka artist who designed the new logo for Brave Heart Volunteers.

How did the notion of designing a new logo for the beloved local organization come about?  Galanin (who serves on the board of Brave Heart) says, “Originally, there was no idea of doing a new logo, I just wanted to create a design that BHV could use on shirts as a fundraising effort. They are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and I thought maybe if we put the design on a shirt, they could sell the shirts to raise money.”

But then, Brave Heart liked Galanin’s design so much, they decided they wanted to use it as their new logo.

When asked about his artistic influences growing up, Galanin sites first and foremost his dad, Tlingit carver Dave Galanin.

“My dad was my mentor. Another important one was my uncle Will Burkhart. I learned a lot from them. And then, my great grandfather was George Benson (who designed the totem pole in Totem Square). Unfortunately, I did not really know him, since I was born just a year or so before he died.

How did Jerrod arrive at such a distinctive design for the logo?

“I liked the idea of a heart shape and I worked my formline into it. I also liked the idea of Raven and Eagle as lovebirds. Having both together represents a way to keep balance. I wanted to do something with a more contemporary feel – like depicting Raven and Eagle together – this is something that is not commonly done. And, also, having the bright colors. And, finally, I kind of snuck in ‘BHV’ into the negative space.”

Jerrod says he really thinks the best way to learn about art is “through a mentorship, like I had with my dad and my uncle. Steve Brown is another person I worked with.”

The young Galanin has worked in various media. Much of his work is engraved silver jewelry and there’s some carving in wood. But, he says, “I am always trying new media – in the past year I’ve been doing a lot in pastels. Pastels can be really big and messy,” he says. “With my son David being born in December,” he says, “lately I have been grabbing my ipad and doing digital drawings.”

And where can someone who’s interested find examples of Jerrod’s work? He has a show coming up in April at Seattle’s Stonington Gallery. “There will be some drawings and pastel works on display there for the whole month. Then, there’s my website jerrodgalanin.com, which shows different kinds of work I have done. The store in downtown Sitka (Galanin & Klein) has some of my work. And, of course, there is the 20th Anniversary celebration for Brave Heart, on April 17th. I’ve been a board member just since 2020, so I’m not terribly experienced, but I think it’s a great organization and I am happy to be part of it.”

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Comments Off on Artist Profile: Tyler Eddy

Artist Profile: Tyler Eddy

| Artist Profile | December 3, 2020

What would the holidays be without Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

That’s the question Tyler Eddy asked himself early in this unusual year. His answer was to create Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in miniature in Legos for the front window of Harry Race.

Eddy and his companions-in-Lego -architecture, Aiden Kennedy and Greg George, have been doing the holiday season window in the Sitka pharmacy for five years now, as a labor of love and obsession.

“Every year has a theme,” explained Eddy on the phone in mid-November. “Last year was Harry Potter, and another year it was Carnival. The theme is important because that’s what gives direction to the project.”

Eddy, who is married and has three kids, was born and raised in Sitka and has been a Lego enthusiast since childhood. He started collecting in 1984 at age 10. “I actually got started because of my older brother Tim, who went to Legoland.”

When Tyler met & married his wife Sarah, “Our first decision was where to go on our honeymoon – it would have to be either Legoland or Egypt” (they ended up doing both). The couple honeymooned at the original Legoland in Denmark. Tyler has also done what he calls “field research” at California Legoland and Legoland in Windsor, England.

“There are Legos in every room of the house. When we had kids, one of the first rules they learned was ‘Don’t Mess with Dad’s Legos,’” Tyler chuckled. “I sort my Legos by piece, I have tubs in the attic and a desk that I use for building.” The Sitkan likes building with Legos “because it’s about remembering your childhood and building whatever you want to in your imagination.”

Tyler & Sarah’s kids are Calysta, 8, Scott, 13, and Isabella, 16. “Scott’s probably the biggest Lego fan,” says Tyler. “He especially likes to add lights. Calysta likes to have Lego people doing things like a woman painting a cat with a roller at City Hall.” Every house or structure in the holiday window “has lights on the inside. When we first started you had to hand-solder the lighting. And this year’s windows contain a total of 600+ mini-figures.”

Tyler got his start building Lego storefront villages with his brother Dan Elstad at the REACH building in Juneau. “Then, one year I asked Trish and Dirk if we could put a Lego scene in their window.”

Eddy eventually met “other people who do Legos, like Aiden Kennedy & Greg George. Aiden also collects; he might have a larger collection than me. I get together with them–or used to before Covid–a couple of times a week. This year we were able to build (the display) in an unused room at UAS. We then take it apart and move it all into the window – it takes anywhere from two to five hours to re-build it in the window.”

Typically, the three Lego architects start planning months in advance and start building by June.

How has Covid-19 affected their process? “Well, there’s not as much getting together and what there is, is with masks. But I have to say, Covid did cement this year’s themes of ‘Parade’ and ‘First Responders.’

Eddy’s current day job is with the Ferry System at the Sitka Terminal. He’s also done photography for 20 years, “mostly for fun and as a hobby” and does the “365 Alaska” Facebook page. “Sitka Volunteer Dive Captain Greg George did the smaller window this year, on First Responders. And Aiden Kennedy was all over, helping out on both windows.”

Eddy adds (and one can picture the twinkle in his eyes), “There’s an acronym–AFOL– Adult Fans of Lego, and that’s a thing.” In addition to enjoying the creation itself, he says, “I’ve also had a lot of fun with the Lego friendships I’ve made. That’s actually more than half the fun!”

 


Anyone interested in the building process can see a slide show of this year’s on Tyler Eddy’s Facebook page. For the “I Spy” Contest, pick up an “I Spy” checklist from the front desk at Harry Race. Be sure to write your name, age & phone number for the prize drawing. Go see how many different things you can find in the window.

 

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Comments Off on Artist Profile: Traz Hill

Artist Profile: Traz Hill

| Artist Profile | October 22, 2020

The winning design for the new Seal of the City and Borough of Sitka was announced Tuesday night, October 13th at the Assembly Meeting. The design was created by Aaron Traz Hill.

Hill – who goes by “Traz” – is a 30-year old tattoo artist who grew up in Sitka and now lives with his wife and two kids in Oklahoma.

Traz attended Blatchley Middle School and graduated from Sitka High School in 2008. He moved to Sitka in 2001 with his parents Sonja & Ron Conner, who came to Sitka through work with their church. Sonja works for AK Air and Ron for Sitka Electric.

In early October, Traz received an “unofficial” notification from CBS that his design had been selected; this was followed shortly by the $1,000 prize check, but it “really seemed real when I heard my name announced at the at the Assembly Meeting.”

How did Hill first hear about the City Seal Contest? “I was here with my wife and kids visiting my folks earlier in this spring, and they brought it to my attention.” Traz says he has traveled to Sitka a couple of times this year – the second time, sadly, for the funeral of his grandma Ursula Zertuche, who died in May. Zertuche (a naturalized U.S. citizen originally born in Germany) lived in Sitka for several years in the 80s and from 2013 until her death in 2020. In early October, Traz received an “unofficial” notification from CBS that his design had been selected; this was followed shortly by the $1,000 prize check, but it “really seemed real when I heard my name announced at the at the Assembly Meeting.”

Traz admits, “It was pretty difficult traveling (with the Covid-19 restrictions) but we were just careful and it was ok.”

Traz says growing up here influenced him as an artist and “filled me with a lot of the qualities of Sitka.” His career as a professional tattoo artist started “about seven years ago. I had dabbled before that but was not initially drawn to (that field) maybe partly because of my religious upbringing.” He has done art his “whole life, coloring and drawing from a young age.” He attended Sitka Fine Arts Camp, where besides art classes, he played percussion in jazz band, and was active in Sitka baseball.

Later on, Traz took some college art classes and “learned a lot.” He got his professional tattoo license in 2014, and is presently licensed in Oklahoma, Texas, Florida and Alaska.

When asked if he still draws on paper, Traz affirmed, “Every day!” His parents and grandmother were “always very supportive.” He particularly remembers “watching Bob Ross in the late 80s on PBS on grandma’s TV.” He was inspired by Ross’ show “The Joy of Painting” with its “real time” demos of oil painting techniques. Hill recalls Ross’ intimate speaking style and obvious appreciation for Alaska’s natural world.

When asked about how he came up with his city seal design, Traz said how vital it was to him to include Alaska Native design elements, because “There wouldn’t be a Sitka without Natives because they lived here first.” Thus, the prominent totem pole in the foreground of the design. The young artist also attended a “Native carving course at Fine Arts Camp (and learned that) the design elements and the process were very structured.”

“I also wanted to include both the bridge and fishing; I couldn’t decide between them.” He and one of his brothers worked in seining and tendering. ‘It was about more than (making) money,” said Hill. “There was a feeling of tranquility out on the water.”

“And I needed to get the Coast Guard (into the design), somehow, since they rescued my brother Chatham, after a potentially fatal accident.” Hence, the helicopter in the sky in Hill’s creation.

When asked about a couple of slightly different designs he had produced for the seal, Traz said that his original design had brighter colors (a notably bright orange sky). “Sitka has some really pretty days and sunsets,” he admitted. But when the City Seal committee asked the finalists to make revisions, the artist came up with his “revised design with more muted tones, for a timeless, more official feel.”

 


The new CBS City Seal was selected (in a blind selection process, where artists were not identified), and involved input from both the public, the City Design Review Committee, local boards and commissions, and the Sitka Tribe of Alaska.

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