The first open studio event of its kind begins this week on First Friday, and continues throughout the month of October.
Participating artists will have an art piece hanging at the Franklin Street Gallery at the Baranof Hotel, and most will have their art studios open for public viewing at different times during October.
This is a rare opportunity for people to visit artists’ private zones. You can see where artistic ideas are given life, in some cases, even in the absence of running water and heat.
Most participating artists have never opened their studios to the public. Many confessed they are using the pressure to get themselves organized. I caught up with a few of the artists in their spaces to chat about what they’re working on.
Event organizer and artist Pua Maunau was inspired to coordinate the event during a trip to San Francisco several years ago where she attended a similar event while visiting her first painting teacher.
Maunau got her start painting in San Francisco in 1979. After seeing some paintings she loved at an art gallery in the Mission district, she inquired about the artist. He happened to be working in his fourth floor studio.
She complimented him in person and he offered to teach her how to paint. She went twice a week for four years and loved it.
Maunau painted in studios until she moved to Juneau in 1999 where she began painting outdoors. She and Barbara Craver formed Plein Rein, a group that meets weekly to paint outside.
“In Juneau you can’t help but paint outdoors,” said Maunau.
In July of this year Barbara Craver, a self-proclaimed recovering lawyer, moved her artist space from her small home basement to the Articorp building downtown, next to friend and fellow artist Constance Baltuck.
Having all her painting supplies together in one place has been helpful to Craver, as well as the separate space.
“Not having the distractions of being at home was wonderful, you know the laundry, the phone, a nice chair with a book,” said Craver with a laugh, “I decided to give it a try.”
Craver used Baltuck’s space to paint while Baltuck was artist-in-residence at Kobuk Valley National Park painting in the great sand dunes with bear scientists. Craver loved working in the studio and soon got a space of her own.
The two artists check in with each other in the morning, paint together outside and help each other with paintings. They use baby strollers to push their gear up mountains.
Constance moved her studio from her home in January of this year and has a corner office in the Articorp building with spectacular views. The painting she picked for First Friday is of her friend’s daughter playing with ravens in her yard.
Baltuck has a show opening at the Alaska State Museum in November.
David Woodie has an artist’s space in the Emporium Mall downtown, upstairs from the Nickelodeon Gold Town Theatre. He promises to organize his studio for visitors.
“I’m going to get things cleared away, kick the wine bottles in the corner and put a table here,” said Woodie, who started his career drawing ships when he was 6 years old. He’s had his studio for about 12 years and also teaches at the University of Alaska Southeast.