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KAAHC Invitational to showcase Ketchikan-area artists
The mosaic “Tree of Life" by Julie Berg-Linville will be one of the works on display in the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council's Invitational exhibit that opens on June 7 at the Main Street Gallery. Image courtesy of KAAHC

Daily News Staff Writer

The Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council is offering its fifth annual Invitational exhibit in June and July, showcasing Ketchikan area artists working with a variety of media, including fiber, photography, paints and mosaics.

“It’s exciting,” Arts Council Program Director Katy Posey said in a Tuesday phone interview. “It’s an opportunity for the Ketchikan area.”

Posey said that artists from several communities in southern Southeast Alaska, including Craig, Port Protection and Klawock, were invited to submit works for the show.

“This is an opportunity to invite more established artists to show their work, and it’s considered a great honor on our side to have them in our gallery,” Posey explained.

The invitational exhibits are unique in that they are the only shows to fill the gallery for two months, rather than one. The exhibits also are timed to coincide with the tourist season.

“We’re helping the artists to have exposure,” Posey said.

Ketchikan photographer Felix Wong said, via phone, that he plans to enter two photographs in the exhibit.

Those photos are part of a series he has been working on featuring Ketchikan’s night skies.

“Night photography and astro photography has always been my thing,” he said.

Although the Ketchikan skies offer a challenge in often having cloud cover, Wong said when they do open up, they offer a spectacular opportunity, with the clarity of the air.

“Stargazing has always been a passion of mine,” Wong said.

He explained that he grew up in Singapore, and although the cloud cover was less of a problem, light pollution and hazier air was a constant obstacle.

Wong moved to Ketchikan in 2013, to join his sister, who’d moved to town. He’d taken up photography more seriously in 2011, he said, and Ketchikan’s skies soon became a favorite subject.

He first realized his photos were fascinating to people when they began sharing them across social media, he said.

Wong created a Main Street Gallery solo exhibit in November, 2016, and he said images from that show still can be viewed at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center. He added that more of his images can been seen by searching “Green Storm Over Ketchikan” on the internet, which will lead to the National Geographic website on which his work is featured, along with an editor’s note.

He explained that he also enjoys bringing images of the night skies to people who are working hard all day, and who can’t get out late to observe the skies.

“That’s what I try to bring to the table,” he said. “Make the night sky a little more accessible.”

In addition to capturing images of dramatic night skies, Wong said there is another angle to his photography.

“I like to observe details and I just love to observe things and how they change and how little they change,” he said. “That also ties into photography work that can be seen, like at the museum — series of photos of then and now.”

He said his curiosity about those changes have led him to replicate photos taken 100 years ago, comparing buildings that are still standing, as well as the roads and the landscape.

Ketchikan fabric artist Jackie Jones Bailey also will have two works in the exhibit. She specializes in hand-made fabric bears made of donated materials that have sentimental value.

“I do kind of a home-spun bear,” she said, calling her work “cottage art.”

One of her bears features a Buffalo plaid fabric that “follows the Ketchikan tradition of logging,” she said.

Most of her work is focused on creating “memory bears” for people in the community.

One of the bears in the exhibit is a memory bear that she fashioned from a friend’s daughter’s prom dress, as a way for the family to remember that special event.

“I can’t even guess how many bears I’ve made for people in town,” Jones Bailey said, explaining that she’s been creating the bears for about 30 years.

She started making the bears for her children, she said, using a pattern that she edited for her own use. She’d made friends with a woman in town who also enjoyed sewing, and who created dolls, rabbits and bears from fabric.

They would meet to sew together regularly.

Jones Bailey said that she always has enjoyed making art, and took many art classes on her way to earning a nursing degree, after her father advised her that she needed a more financially stable career than one in art.

“It’s been the best choice all around,” she said.

She said creating the bears has been a relaxing, pleasurable way to mesh both her passion for art and for helping people.

“They’re a labor of love,” she said.

Sometimes she makes them for people who are grandparents, and who are cleaning out sentimental family items, and sometimes she sews them for people who want a way to remember a family member who has passed. Her clients supply clothing or other fabric items that evoke memories of loved ones, for their memory bear.

“You never know what people will give me,” she said.

One bear she made was created from a fabric calendar that her client’s grandmother had adorned with ornate beading and bejeweling.

She makes the bear’s body parts and also the clothing and adornments for the bears from clothing items she’s given, making one-of-a-kind pieces for each family.

She said she also creates bears to donate to fundraisers.

One of her most challenging bear projects, she said, was to create one out of a box of clothing that had been cut into pieces when a family member had been planning to make a quilt out of the fabric.

She said she had opened the box, saw all of the pieces and closed the box again to ponder how she would use them.

When she finally returned to the pieces and created her vision, “that created something I never expected,” she said.

Making the bears “turns something very homespun into something special,” Jones Bailey said.

This will be Jones Bailey’s first time exhibiting in the Main Street Gallery.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” but she said she’d been daunted by the thought of having to fill up the entire space for a solo show.

Of visitors to the upcoming exhibit, she said, “I just hope they enjoy it, and I hope people turn out.”

The exhibit will open between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., Friday, June 7 at the Main Street Gallery, located at 330 Main Street.

The exhibit will be on display through July 26.