Mayor's Awards for the Arts, 2016

Juneau Arts & Humanities Council announces the selection of the recipients for the Ninth Annual Mayor’s Awards for the Arts, to be presented at the JAHC Season 43 Kick-off party on Friday, August 19, at 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the JACC.

Recipients are:

Artist: Vera Starbard Bedard.

Vera wrote Our Voices Will be Heard, a play produced in January at Perseverance Theatre that chronicles a Tlingit family and community struggling with the aftermath of discovering sexual abuse in a high-status family. The play started numerous dialogues about a complex and challenging issue facing far to many women and families in Alaska, and brought together groups as varied as SEARHC, AWARE, Sealaska Heritage Institute, the Alaska Legislature, and both the Governor’s and Lt. Governor’s offices, calling attention to the play’s simple message that challenging problems can only be solved when communities can talk about them. The production at Perseverance was the first time that a native playwright, native director, and entirely native cast collaborated to create a work.

Starbard has been recognized recently by the National Playwrights Residency Program and the Andrew W Mellon Foundation with a fellowship to become Perseverance Theatre resident playwright. This is a nationally competitive program involving only 23 writers and theatre nationwide. Her work has brought leaders in the native theatre movement to Alaska, and connected Frank Kaash Katasse, another Tlingit playwright, to Native Voices at the Autry, where his play was recently produced. This coming season, there are more productions of Native-written plays at major regional theatres across the country then ever before. Vera’s work on advocacy has raised awareness of domestic violence for thousands of Alaskans, and her leadership as an indigenous theatre artist has placed Juneau at the forefront of a national movement to bring native voices onto our most prominent stages. She is making a difference in many ways.

Arts in Education: Jim Fowler,

Jim Fowler recently retired as the teacher and artist who led the after-school art programs at Cedar Park and Geneva Woods for 18 years. Fowler’s work as an artist, illustrator, and educator has had a great impact on children over the years, especially the generation of children he worked with in those two locations.

(see recent Juneau Empire article about Jim’s work.

Arts Organization Leadership: Scarlett Adam.

Scarlett has been an active supporter and participant in the Juneau Arts community for many years as a volunteer, patron, donor and performer. Six years ago she joined the Board of Directors of Juneau Lyric Opera, eventually becoming Vice-President. As a member of the JLO Board, Scarlett assumed a major leadership role. She produced a wide variety of events, established collaborative ventures with other arts organizations and the high school theater programs, and took a lead role in fundraising for performing arts here in Juneau. Scarlett’s efforts have resulted in dozens of events which have created performance opportunities for hundreds of Juneau residents and which have been attended by many thousands of members of our community. Among her many accomplishments she took the lead role in JLO’s collaboration with JDHS to produce “Hairspray” in 2012 which was the most successful and best attended musical theater performance in Juneau in the past twenty years.

A year ago Scarlett announced that she would have to leave the JLO Board at the end of her term in July 2016 to spend more time with her family and on professional pursuits. But Scarlett had no intention of spending that final year as a “lame duck”. 2016 was JLO’s 40th Anniversary Season and Scarlett was the driving force behind making it the most diverse and productive year in our long history. As a Board officer she pushed the organization to explore a wide variety of new creative opportunities including unique events such as our Opera Film Festival, a whale watching cruise featuring live vocal performances, JLO’s first Halloween Ball and a delightful Afternoon of Ave Maria’s at the Shrine of St. Therese. Throughout JLO’s 40th anniversary season no Board member put in more time and effort than Scarlett, with hundreds of hours being devoted to virtually every aspect of the organization’s operations: producing events of all sizes and types, auditioning casts, finding venues, emceeing fundraisers, working with the high school theater department baking scores of her masterpiece cupcakes for auctions and so much more. Somehow in the course of all that she found time to take the lead role in finding a new executive director for the organization and starred in JLO’s critically acclaimed production of “Man of La Mancha” this past spring. It is hard to imagine how any one person could perform so many different functions so well. Although JLO will sorely miss her presence on the Board, Scarlett will continue to volunteer her services to JLO as time allows.

Business Leadership for the Arts Alaska Music One.

Owner Keith Giles has been a fixture in the Juneau music community for a generation at least. As one of the last brick and mortar music shops in Juneau, his store is welcoming and provides instruments and repairs, often offering discounts to make music more affordable. The shop also hosts lessons to Juneau’s youth and offers workshops for further exploration, bringing in trainers from the Lower 48 to share their expertise with Juneau musicians of all ages.

Alaska Music One partners with both businesses and non-profits alike, as well as individuals seeking to bring live music events in Juneau, providing the sound, lighting, and local expertise to make even the biggest events a success.

Keith’s generosity as a business owner and patience as a sound technician are a rare thing. As a sound engineer, it can be tricky to manage both expectations of the artists and the audience, but his attitude never shows it. Keith and his dedicated sound crew can tackle both traditional and unorthodox arrangements, working musicians of all levels to craft a consistent, quality mix that makes sense to both the audience and performers.

Since the beginning of the year, he’s helped install new sound systems in both the Hangar Ballroom and upstairs in Rockwell, expanding the venues where Juneau From the perspective of a female musician, guitar shops and music retailers can be intimidating, macho places. But Juneau’s Alaska Music One is different. Keith Giles and his employees take care to explain and discuss equipment in a way that’s respectful, to musicians and sound technicians of varying ability.

Alaska Music One also hosts lessons where Juneau’s youth build confidence and learn to express themselves in creative ways that just can’t happen in a middle school band or orchestra class. This spring I did a news story on their ‘tween rock band 3-2-1 who brought their loud mix of contemporary and classic rock to the Folk Fest stage.

But Alaska Music One’s Valley storefront is just the beginning of their impact on Juneau. Keith’s s business touches many diverse groups as the sound for Juneau’s Relay for Life event, Maritime Festival, KTOO’s Alaska Originals and KRNN Spotlight Series just to name a few. Though his business is rewarded in underwriting trade and sponsorship, Keith goes above and beyond to facilitate the dream sound of local and touring musicians no matter how complicated or colorful it may seem.

Bottom line, when performers see Keith at the sound booth, they know they’re in good hands. And without his generosity, expertise and local storefront, Juneau would not be the dynamic music community it is today.

 Innovative Application of the Arts: Mark Kelley

Mark has been an artist dedicated to Juneau and the state of Alaska for over forty years. His deep photographic knowledge of our great state is unsurpassed.

Mark moved to Alaska in 1974 and four years later graduated from the University of Alaska with a degree in journalism and northern studies. In 1985 Mark Kelley continued on to work towards a master’s degree in photojournalism at Ohio University, where he was awarded the Paul Schutzer Memorial Award.

In 1979 Mark joined the staff at the Juneau Empire as a photojournalist for thirteen years. During this time Mark received numerous awards from the Alaska Press Club, the National Press Photographers Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists.

In 1993 Mark decided to pursue a full-time career in Alaska nature and wildlife photography and since then has won numerous photography awards. Most notable, Mark placed first in the 2013 Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice Photography Awards—Outdoor Adventure Category, and he is a recipient of the Daniel Housberg Wilderness Image Award for Excellence in Still Photography from the Alaska Conservation Foundation.

Mark is a Juneau-based publisher of award-winning Alaskan books and calendars. Whenever possible, Mark has worked with other local businesses to produce his work. His books have sold over a quarter million copies. “Glacier Bay National Park: Alaska”, “Alaska’s Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glaciers”, and “Alaska: A Photographic Excursion” were each awarded a Benjamin Franklin Award by The Independent Book Publishers Association. “Alaska: A Photographic Excursion” has just been released as a 2nd Edition and has more than 65,000 copies in print worldwide. The 2014 calendar and the children’s book “Once Upon Alaska” both received an Award of Excellence from Communications Arts.

Mark Kelley products help support local causes. Since the inception of the Mark Kelley Calendars in 1989, calendar sales have helped generate over $20,000 in total annual donations to Discovery Southeast and the Juneau Raptor Center. Mark is a former soccer coach, and during the Christmas holiday Mark Kelley’s calendar sales support fundraising efforts by local soccer teams, raising more than $10,000 each year. A percentage of sales from Mark’s book “Alaska’s Watchable Whales” supports the work of whale researcher Jan Straley, and the Sitka Sound Science Center. Every year Mark donates his calendars to the legislature, for welcome gifts, to JCVB, for volunteer appreciation gifts, and to Bartlett Memorial Hospital for placement in hospital rooms. Last but not least, Mark has mentored up-and-coming young local aspiring photographers.

Mark is a regular speaker at community events and fundraisers. In 2006 Mark Kelley self-funded the exhibit “Alaska’s Watchable Whales: Humpback and Killer Whales” featured in the Governors Gallery at the Alaska State Museum.

Mark is an outstanding artist with a strong dedication to his local community. His Juneau and Alaska images travel the world – cherished by visitors and folks who might have lived here once. His self-publishing business has had small but consistent economic impact to be proud of. Juneau is so lucky that Mark Kelley calls it his home.

Volunteer in the Arts Jeff Duvernay.

Jeff currently serves as President of Juneau Dance Theatre’s Board of Directors, but his relationship with the organization goes back for more than a decade. Within the last few years, in particular, he devoted a tremendous amount of his time, energy, and resources to ensure a successful leadership of transition at JDT. He recognizes the importance of JDT’s place in the community and has guided the organization through a tenuous time of change and uncertainty. He is a longtime supporter of the arts (his daughter, Gabrielle, attended JDT from toddler-age 18) and Jeff sees the importance of having a positive, nurturing place that offers excellence in dance education. His efforts help to ensure that JDT can fully realize its mission of nurturing the love of dance throughout the community.

Jeff is incredibly generous with his time, expertise, energy, and resources. Without his support, JDT would not be the organization it is today, and the organization is tremendously grateful for all that he has done, and continues to do, to help support JDT’s efforts and offer the Juneau community the highest level of dance education. He goes above and beyond to help those in need, and does not expect recognition in return. Jeff receives this award because of his outstanding work behind the scenes for that arts organization, and the community!

Lifetime Achievement in the Arts R.T. Wallen

R.T. Wallen, studied as a biologist, and worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at the start of his career. He helped reintroduce sea otters to southeast Alaska, and helped bring muskox to Nunivak. In 1965, he lived for a time on Little Diomede Island, and while there began sketching the animals he observed. He became the full time staff artist for the Alaska Wildlife Notebook series, headquartered in Juneau.

In 1967 he left Fish and Game to become a full time artist and opened a gallery on Seward Street, where he sold charcoal sketches, watercolors, and lithographs.

The Silver Anniversary Committee of Juneau commissioned Wallen to create “Windfall Fisherman,” the beloved bronze bear that stands near the Capitol Building. DIPAC/Macaulay Salmon Hatchery commissioned the “Gang of Four” mother bear and three cubs about that time.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Statehood, a group of community members worked with Wallen to create a life-sized breaching humpback whale fountain. To create this, Wallen first made a 4 ft maquette, then scaled that to create and eight foot bronze sculpture, now at the University of Alaska SE campus. “Tahku,” the life-sized sculpture arrives in Juneau on August 8 and soon will be in place on the waterfront.

Wallen’s works are found around the world: “Spirit of the Rivers” on the Lake Michigan shoreline, “Gift of Sight” a donation to the River Blindness Foundation in Africa, the Alaska/Siberia WWII memorial in Fairbanks to name just a few.

In addition to his artwork, Wallen is an environmental conservation pioneer who worked to help establish the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, the Mendenhall Wetlands, Admiralty Island National Monument, Petersburg Creek/Duncan Salt Chuck Wilderness and extension of Denali National Park. He uses his artwork to help support the efforts of many non-profits, such as public radio.

He is even responsible for making sure that the perches for the pair of bald eagles that like to look out from the bridge were kept in place when the new power poles were installed!

The JAHC Mayor’s Award for the Arts and Season ’43 Kick-off Party celebrates the arts in Juneau on August 19 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center with the presentation of Awards, live music, election of new JAHC Board members, the first opportunity to purchase Performing Arts and Culture Concert tickets for the coming season and to sign up to volunteer for season events. Light refreshments will be served. The event is free and open to the public.