Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Arts Outlook


Classical guitarist to play

Classical guitarist Dimitris Kotronakis will be showing off his lightning-fast style at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 8, at the Chilkat Center.

The show is sponsored by the Haines Arts Council.

Born in Greece in 1973, Kotronakis began studying classical guitar at the age of 7. He graduated from the International Conservatory in Athens and is currently a doctoral student at the University of Athens.

Arts council president Tom Heywood said he ran into Kotronakis’ work on YouTube. “It was incredible. He’s extremely quick, very fast, and he’s very much in-tune with the personality of each piece. He’s got a lot of sensitivity to the music,” Heywood said.

Classical guitars have nylon strings and are played finger-style, instead of with a pick. They also have a wider neck than steel-string guitars.

Visitors to Kotronakis’ website are greeted with a recording of his impressive rendition of “Flight of the Bumblebee.”

“He’s phenomenal. He can make the guitar sound incredibly fast,” Heywood said.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for students and $35 for families. 

Spotlight series to shine on Hagen

The Sheldon Museum’s annual Six-Week Spotlight series begins Friday, May 30, with an exhibit by local photographer John Hagen, who has chronicled Chilkat River beaches in a series of black and white landscapes.

The reception for the exhibit opening is from 5 to 7 p.m. May 30, in the museum’s Elisabeth S. Hakkinen Gallery. Hagen’s work will hang in the gallery until July 12.

Hagen has been photographing the Chilkat River beach area near his home on Mud Bay Road for the past year. “I wanted to focus on a yearlong study of just one small spot, a concentrated spot. I wanted to challenge myself and pick a spot that wasn’t represented well or didn’t have a well-worn photo past, like the Bald Eagle Preserve or Chilkat Lake,” Hagen said.

The 19 photographs shy away from traditional shots of the Chilkat range that tend to dominate most photos of the area, Hagen said.  

“There is a subtle beauty in the small things that are happening, the things you don’t necessarily notice when you see the grand mountains across the way. You start looking at how the snow plays with a few pieces of dried grass. There are very interesting pictures you can make of that,” he said.

Museum director Helen Alten called Hagen’s imagery “compelling,” “touching” and “breathtaking.”

“Hagen has a clarity of vision and an astute eye. In everyday scenes, he picks an angle or a viewpoint that makes the scene unique and memorable,” Alten said.

Scott Carrlee of the Alaska State Museum in Juneau judged applications for the Six-Week Spotlight series.

The second series is by Maor Cohen and will run from July 18 to Aug. 30. The third is by Alexandra Feit and will run Sept. 5 to Oct. 18.  

Dugout canoe steaming set for Saturday

Residents interested in seeing the traditional technique for steaming a dugout canoe are invited to the beach pullout between the Port Chilkoot and Chilkat Cruises docks Saturday morning to watch Wayne Price lead the process.

Steaming the 28-foot canoe, carved from a 30-foot cedar log, will allow the gunnels to be widened so the vessel can accommodate more people, Price said.

The process involves filling the canoe about one-third of the way with water and placing super-heated stones inside, “like a big pot of soup,” Price said. A tarp is then placed over the canoe to capture the steam, which makes the wood more pliable. Spreader sticks are used to gradually expand the gunnels, or sides.

Price has been working with the Chilkoot Tribal Youth Program on carving the canoe, said program coordinator Jake Bell. “The kids were working on it pretty much all last summer, learning how to adze and use other woodworking tools,” Bell said.

Saturday’s steaming process will also be accompanied by a ceremony in which people whose lives have been affected by drug and alcohol abuse in some way can cast wood chips into a fire. The chips will bear the names of people struggling with problems associated with substance abuse.

Price referred to the vessel as a “healing canoe,” and the ceremony as a way to acknowledge the scale of the substance abuse issue. “When you see all the chips with all the names on it, you know we’re not alone. This is my attempt to do what I can with what I got,” he said.

When the canoe is finished, Price and the North Tide Canoe Kwaan will paddle it to Juneau for Sealaska’s Celebration in early June.

Recital will feature tiny dancers, fathers

Dance instructor Kim Sundberg said those attending a Saturday, May 17, recital in Haines can expect to enjoy more than just ballet performances: jazz, contemporary and lyrical dance numbers are also on the agenda.

The recital starts 10:30 a.m. at the Chilkat Center.

Though Sundberg has taught young students for several years, this was the first year she taught 2-year-olds.

“My little 2-year-olds are taking the stage this year, which should be interesting. They’re going to do ‘Little Miss Muffet.’ It should be pretty darn cute,” Sundberg said.

In all, there will be six ballet performances, a beginner jazz performance, a contemporary dance performance, and a lyrical dance performance. The music will range from classics like Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” to modern hits like Beyonce’s “I Was Here.”

The popular “Daddy-Daughter Dance,” where fathers join their daughters on stage, will return, though Sundberg hinted it will be different than last year. Sundberg said she thinks the performance strikes a chord with the audience because of the special relationship between daughters and fathers.

“The fathers are usually always behind the scenes, and there they were up on stage and the moms were in the audience. That was a big deal,” Sundberg said.

The 44 participating dancers are pre-selling tickets, and only a limited number will be available at the door, Sundberg said. “So track down a dancer.”

Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for children 4-11, and $25 for families.