2012 Rasmuson Distinguished Artist is Kes Woodward of Fairbanks

He went to college to study chemistry and never dreamed of being an artist. Today, artist Kes Woodward of Fairbanks was awarded the 2012 Rasmuson Distinguished Artist Award, which recognizes artists with stature and a history of creative excellence and accomplishments in the arts with $25,000 in unrestricted funds. Woodward is the ninth Alaskan artist to receive the award, which was announced at a morning ceremony in Anchorage.

“No Alaska art collection is complete without a northern landscape painting by Kes Woodward,” said Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO. “This award not only recognizes his beautiful paintings and drawings, but his contributions to Alaska’s arts through his teaching, books and all the ways he has given back to developing other artists.”

Woodward was the Curator of Visual Arts at the Alaska State Museum and Artistic Director at the Visual Arts Center of Alaska before moving to Fairbanks in 1981. He taught at UAF for more than 20 years, retiring from teaching in 2000 to devote himself to painting full-time. He has painted the northern landscape for 25 years and his mountains, rivers, snow, ice, tundra, forests, and especially birch trees, are instantly recognizable. Woodward’s work is included in all major art collections in Alaska and in museum, corporate and private collections across the country. An art historian and curator, he has produced eight books on Alaska art and he has lectured on art of the circumpolar north around the world.

In addition to the Distinguished Artist Award, Rasmuson Foundation also awarded 26 $5,000 project grants (worth up to $5,000 each) and 10 Artist Fellowships (worth up to $12,000 each). These artists were chosen from a total of 305 applicants, whose applications were judged by an esteemed national panel of artists and arts leaders. A complete list of award recipients is attached.

At the same time that the Individual Artist Awards were announced live today in Anchorage, they were also announced live from the virtual online community of Second Life in the Rasmuson Foundation Gallery of Alaskan Artists in Second Life. The Gallery is open year-round and features exhibits of art and provides artist information showcasing previous Individual Artist Award grantees.

About the Individual Artist Awards
In December 2003, the Rasmuson Foundation Board of Directors launched a multi-year initiative to make a significant investment into the arts and cultural resources of the state. Designed with the help from artists and arts organizations from around the state, the initiative prioritized support to practicing artists themselves as a key strategy to ensure Alaska enjoys a vibrant art and culture community.

This is the ninth year of the Individual Artist Awards program, and as of today, the program has awarded 267 grants, totaling $1.9 million dollars, directly to Alaska artists.  The purpose of the awards is to allow artists to seek a variety of creative opportunities, including providing them with the time necessary to focus on creative work.

2012 Individual Artist Awards
Distinguished Artist Award - $25,000

Kessler Woodward – Visual Artist - Fairbanks

Artist Fellowships - $12,000

Laura Bliss-Spaan – Media Arts – Anchorage - For the last 20 years, Laura has been documenting the Eyak language. Her three films on this subject cover the last Eyak speaker’s mission to pass on the language before her death; the journey of a Frenchman with a passion for Eyak; and, a look at the community that is working to revive the language. During her Fellowship year, Laura will explore some new visual and media art project and work on a venue where local films can screen to more local audiences.

Jack Dalton –- Presentation/Interpretation - Anchorage - As an Author, Storyteller, Playwrite and Performer Jack Dalton’s productions blend oral tradition with modern situations, creating new ways to understand Alaska. During his Fellowship year, Jack will reprise three to four of his previous performances for presentation at Out North Contemporary Playhouse in Anchorage.

Brendan Harrington – Visual Arts – Kodiak - Brendan has sketched, photographed and painted scenery along Alaska’s coastlines from Southeast Alaska to Attu Island. During his Fellowship year, he will explore a new territory: Interior Alaska including visiting old military and mining towns to take in the landscape as summer turns to fall.

Tommy Joseph –Visual Arts - Sitka – Tommy Joseph has been a carving instructor, interpreter demonstrator and commissioned artist for more than two decades. He has produced everything from totem poles and smaller house posts to intricately carved and inlaid basks and bentwood boxes. During his Fellowship, Tommy will conduct research and work on his first solo exhibit: six Tlingit warriors adorned with full, traditional battle dress and body armor.

Da-ka-xeen Mehner – Visual Arts – Fairbanks – A self-described Tlingit and American hippy, Da-ka-xeen’s works examine his multicultural heritage and employs materials and tools that represent both sides of his identity: concrete and steel; crook knife and cedar. Mehner is an assistant professor of Native Arts at UAF and is director of the UAF Native Arts Center. He will spend his Fellowship year working on a new body of work including some that will premiere in a solo show at the Anchorage Museum in September. This is his second Individual Artist Award.

Karina Moeller – Music Composition – Anchorage – Born in Nuuk, Greenland, Karina delivers a message of women’s strength and cultural pride within Jazzy compositions and vocals. Many will recognize her as a member of the band Pamyua. Karina will spend her Fellowship year working on composing and recording new songs for a solo album.

Phillip Munger – Music Composition – Wasilla – Phillip writes music that explores timely social and environmental interests of Alaskans. His work has been commissioned and performed by the Anchorage Civic Orchestra, Anchorage Youth Symphony, Juneau Symphony, Kenai Symphony and Chugach Brass. He also is a teacher who is constantly learning himself. During his Fellowship year, he will work on a new orchestral work based on the February 1945 speech given by Tlingit Civil Rights Pioneer Elizabeth Peratrovich. This is Phillip’s second Individual Artist Award.

Kat Tomka -  Visual Arts - Anchorage – Kat’s work has been exhibited internationally, but she’s also well-known within Alaska and in New York and Seattle. She creates transparent or collaged spaces using her medium of choice – 3M Magic Tape. During her Fellowship year, Kat will reflect and create new work, and cultivate new partners in her work. This is Kat’s second Individual Artist Award.

Sonya Kelliher-Combs – Visual Arts – Anchorage – Sonya works in mixed media painting and sculpture to offer a chronicle of the ongoing struggle for self-definition and identity in the Alaskan context. For her Fellowship, Sonya will create two large bodies of work. First, an exhibit called Arctic Identity that will open in May 2013 at the Craft & Fold Art Museum in Los Angeles. The second is Indigenopolis, a major international survey of contemporary Indigenous art from around the world for the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. This is Sonya’s second Rasmuson Fellowship.

Morris Palter – Presentation Interpretation – Fairbanks – Morris is a highly sought after specialist in the area of solo percussion performance. He has performed in venues around the world including Disney Hall in Los Angeles. Lincoln Center in New York and in Stockholm, Paris and Amsterdam. For his Fellowship year, Morris will document and record a CD of works for percussion, including pieces by Alaska composers Matthew Burtner and John Luther Adams.

Project Awards - $5,000

Karrie Pavish Anderson – Presentation Interpretation – Galena – Karrie is a jazz-influenced singer/songwriter who draws inspiration from the Alaskans she encounters and the landscape that surrounds her. She will use her project award to tour in support of her new CD, “Once Blind.”

Beth Blankenship – Crafts – Anchorage – Beth has mastered the technique of two-needle couching (an embroidery stitch where beads are strung on one thread and stitched down with another). Her Project Award will allow her to attend a beading workshop to master the peyote stitch.

Slavik Boyechko – Media Arts – Anchorage – Slavik has a background in writing, visual arts and computer graphics, but he recently discovered a love for filmmaking. His work has already been featured at the Anchorage International Film Festival and he will use his Project Award to attend a workshop on documentary film making.

Melina Draper – Literary Arts Scriptworks – Fairbanks – An accomplished literary artist, Melina will use her Project Award to publicize her upcoming book of poems, “Two Shores.” Her book is scheduled for publication in 2014.

Ashley DuRoss – Visual Arts – Petersburg – Ashley’s work explores the relationship between light and shadow on physical structures. For her Project Award, she will ship work and travel to upcoming solo shows in Fairbanks and Anchorage.

David Gerard – Folk & Traditional Arts – Homer – A cabinetmaker by trade and a luthier by passion, David’s studio in Homer is not only space for creating, it’s space for young students to make their own stringed instruments. With his Project Award, David will purchase stationary power tools and hand tools to properly outfit his work space.

Ronald Klein – Visual Arts - Juneau – Ronald is a photographer who has been experimenting with wet plate collodion process, where images are contact-printed on glass negatives, as was common 150 years ago. With his project award, Ronald will construct a wooden camera capable of capturing images on the 18-by-22-inch glass negatives, using original lenses from the era.

George Kuhar – Media Arts – Juneau – George will use his Project Award for software, equipment and travel to create a new film that incorporates his electronic music with elements of animation, cinematography and storytelling.

Kristin Elizabeth Link – Visual Arts – McCarthy – Kristin is a natural history artist who will use her Project Award to travel into the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve to study, as a naturalist in the field. She will create a sketchbook of the area’s flora, fauna and geology.

Enzina Marrari - Visual Arts – Anchorage – Enzina will construct three wearable art pieces from natural materials that will transform the garments as they dry, decay and change. She plans to use roses, fireweed, branches and driftwood in the work.

Andrew Michael – Visual Arts – Anchorage - Andrew creates contemporary masks from stone, wood, metal and glass. His Project Award will allow him to outfit a workshop with tools and supplies so that he can produce larger pieces and expand his use of diverse materials.

Maria Nicolai – Visual Arts – Bethel – Maria is an illustrator who will create a graphic novel of Yup’ik tales through the technique of sequential imagery. Her Project Award will help with equipment and publishing costs. Maria plans to complete her project before departing for college later this year.

Tracy Opeim – Folk & Traditional Arts – Kodiak – Tracy is a folk artist who works with baleen and ivory, carving them into intricate replicas of boats and other forms. With her Project Award, Tracy will move out of her parent’s garage and construct a workshop, where she can focus on her work.

Cinthia Ritchie – Literary Arts Scriptworks – Anchorage – An accomplished and recognized writer, Cinthia has already received numerous awards for her fiction, nonfiction and journalism work. She will use her Project Award to research her next book. This is Cinthia’s second Individual Artist Award.

Timothy Robb – Music Composition – Tenderfoot Hill (Fairbanks) – Timothy is a self-recording musician who creates musical mosaics from stringed instruments. His goal is to acquire an oud – an ancient, pear shaped instrument that is common in north African and Arabic music – to integrate into his compositions.

Mattox Roesch – Literary Arts Scriptworks – Unalakleet – Mattox is a literary artist who will use his Project Award to finish drafting and researching his novel about the abandoned village of Egavik, and its reindeer herding and subsistence heritage.

Lucas Rowley – Literary Arts Scriptworks – Anchorage – Lucas is a contemporary Inupiaq writer who will use his Project Award to complete a full-length stage play, based on his experiences at a tribal art school in New Mexico. He will develop much of his play at this year’s Valdez Theater Festival.

Mark Tetpon – Crafts - Anchorage – Mark is a carver who has been training with his father since he was nine-years-old. He uses his work to express himself and tell stories he’s gathered from elders. He will use his Project Award to purchase tools and materials to support the creation of new work.

David Walker – Crafts - Juneau – David is a creator of wearable art, who primarily works in wood veneers. He will use his Project Award to enter the garment into the internationally acclaimed World of Wearable Art Show in New Zealand later this year. This is David’s second Individual Artist Award.

Allison Warden – Performance Art – Anchorage – Allison is a performance artist whose work spans theater, music and Rap composition. She will use her Project Award to purchase digital camera equipment to document and create new work. She also will remix and master a new song.

Teague Whalen – Music composition – Ketchikan – Teague is a singer/songwriter whose work features an eclectic blend of Americana, folk, blues, country, rock and jazz. With his Project Award, Teague will purchase studio recording equipment to create high-quality recordings of his music, both in the studio and during live performances.

Theresa Woldstad – Folk & Traditional Arts – North Pole – Theresa is a folk and traditional artist who will use her Project Award to explore a little-known style of button blanket design that utilizes coins as a decorative element, instead of abalone, shells or pearl buttons. Theresa will complete her project at the UAF Native Art Studio, where she will be a resident this year.

Roblin Davis – Performance Art – Juneau – Roblin is a performance artist who will use his Project Award to advance his training through a workshop with Shakespeare and Company. He also will begin collaboration on a new play.

Meagan Mackey – Music Composition – Anchorage – Meagan is a singer/songwriter who wrote her first song at age 16.  She recorded her first album earlier this year and plans to tour Alaska this summer. She will use her Project Award to purchase a portable sound system so that she can promote her music throughout Alaska.

Adam Ottavi Schiesl – Visual Arts – Ester – Adam will use his Project Award to create a traveling exhibit of 16-by-20-inch glass plate photographs using a camera he plans to build utilizing a 19th century process called ambrotype. His images will feature portraits and landscapes from Homer and the Kachemak Bay area, and will be exhibited at the Bunnell Street Art Center in Homer and the Well Street Art Company in Fairbanks.

Richard Eissler – Visual Arts – Soldotna – Richard is a photographer whose work documents the natural world in other-worldly manner. With his Project Award, Richard will print and frame up to 20 images for submission to shows and exhibits to expand the audience for his work.