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


Arts Outlook


Cohen painting exhibit opens at museum July 18

The Sheldon Museum’s second installment of its summer Six-Week Spotlight Series opens at 5 p.m. Friday, July 18, with an exhibit of paintings by resident artist Ma’or Cohen.

The exhibit, entitled “Breathing Room,” features abstract landscapes “inspired by the local pallet as it reveals itself through winter,” Cohen said.

  Cohen started working on the paintings, which are acrylic and graphite on wood, a couple of years ago after a friend died.  

  “As I often find with grief, all of my dead soon came to join the ‘party.’ Emotionally raw and tender, I needed to convey these feelings of finality and loss,” Cohen said. “Some days were darker than others and so are the paintings that emerged from them. Eventually, I was less consumed by loss and my work became lighter.”

  Many of the paintings were also inspired by the landscapes of Cohen’s childhood, “where the horizon was often a thin line in the distance and the land only slightly curved with dunes.”

  The exhibit’s title, “Breathing Room,” was inspired by the teachings of Vietnamese peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, who wrote about a breathing room used to calm one’s body and mind.

  “I feel these paintings provide a slower place to take your time in. It’s not digital, it’s not fast, and it’s not an image that immediately provokes you to digest it in some sort of way,” Cohen said.

Cohen was born in the United States and grew up in Israel. She graduated from the Israel-Pollock School of Fine Art in Tel-Aviv. She has exhibited in various group shows in Haines since she moved here in 2002, but this is her first solo exhibition.

The reception will include food and refreshments. 


Inspired sneakers to anchor display

Another artful window display is coming to Main Street.

  The Alaska Arts Confluence, business owner Mike Ward and artist Natalie Benassi are coordinating a project to decorate dozens of canvas high-top sneakers to adorn the large picture window of Caroline’s Closet on Main Street.

  The confluence is putting out a call to local artists to hand-paint a pair of the sneakers, much like the decorated hearts auctioned off at the “Have a Heart for SAIL (Southeast Alaska Independent Living)” fundraiser.

  The only requirement for decorating the canvas high-tops is to incorporate the words Haines, Alaska in the design. Black or white pairs are available.

  The idea for the project came to Alaska Arts Confluence president Carol Tuynman during discussions with Caroline’s Closet owner Ward, who said he had received a shipment of slightly damaged sneakers that were sitting in storage at his store.

  Tuynman said she hopes the sneakers will be “wearable collector’s items” for tourists.

  The sneakers will be for sale, and proceeds will go to SAIL.

  Benassi is coordinating the project and looking for artists interested in painting a pair of sneakers. “Artists loved contributing their unique design work for the SAIL ‘Have a Heart’ Valentine’s fundraiser last winter. It’s fun and gives a lot of pleasure to use our artistic talents in ways that help others. I’m looking forward to seeing what other artists come up with,” Benassi said.

  Tuynman said she hopes the display will be up by the end of the month in time for the beginning of the Southeast Alaska State Fair.

  To sign up to decorate a pair of sneakers, contact Benassi at 767-5620 or Tuynman at 303-0222.

  The recently-acquired ArtPlace America grant will be used to pay for window display lighting, art supplies and the project coordination.


Puppet show all summer

Adults and children alike can expect to get a chuckle at Tresham Gregg’s summer puppet shows, which run at 4 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Uniquely Alaskan Art Gallery in Fort Seward.

The “Fur North Puppet Show” started two weeks ago and will run until September. It’s the first time Gregg has launched an ongoing show.

 “I think it’s good to have something in the community for tourist entertainment and local entertainment,” Gregg said.

The show features hand puppets portraying Alaskan animals like bears, eagles and wolves. The puppets banter back and forth about Alaskan topics and issues, Gregg said.

“It’s quixotic humor, tongue-in-cheek fun humor that adults are more likely to get than kids,” he said. “I have my basic features and then I improv bits here and there to tailor-make it to the audience itself. If I have kids in the audience, I’ll do something more kids-oriented.”

The show lasts 30-40 minutes. Tickets are $5.


Young actors will present ‘Puss n’ Boots’

A production of “Puss n’ Boots,” the culmination of Lynn Canal Community Players’ Summer Youth Theater program, will be on the Chilkat Center stage at 7 p.m. Friday, July 18, and Saturday, July 19.

  The show is in the Commedia dell’arte tradition, a style of Italian comedic street theater that flourished in the 17th century. It is characterized by the reliance on various props instead of extensive scenery.

Director Stanley Coleman said the “meta” show is about a troupe of commedia players who decide to put on a production of “Puss n’ Boots.”

  “They’re like a group of vagabonds who bring all of their props and costumes right here on the stage. They’re constantly reaching for props from their prop cart,” Coleman said.

The fairytale “Puss n’ Boots” tells the story of a cat that uses trickery and deceit to gain power, wealth and marriage to a princess for the cat’s poor master.

Coleman, assistant director Bill Winkley, Cathy Pashigian and Kirsten Amann have been working with about 18 children aged 6 to 13 for the past two weeks to prepare for the show.

“The kids have been coming every day and working very hard,” Coleman said. “We’ve been doing theater games. We’ve been doing some activities in working on characterizations. The kids have been doing quite a bit of physical activities.”

Coleman, who has a PhD in theater from Louisiana State University, and Winkley, who has a master’s in education from the University of Texas, have been holding children’s theater workshops in Louisiana for the past four years.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $7 for children and $35 for families. Tickets are available at the Babbling Book and at the door.