Arts and Entertainment
New Tour "Art and Artists
on the Water" Features Local Artists
By Sharon Allen
July 01, 2005
Ketchikan, Alaska. The artists in Ketchikan are as passionate
about their art as GOLDBELT Alaska Cruises is about the new,
unique and groundbreaking twist they gave to one of their Historical
Waterfront Cruises aboard The Arctic Fjord yesterday.
On Thursday at 12:00 noon,
David Allen, General Manager of Alaska Cruises, launched "Art
and Artists on the Water," a program intending to mix a
bit of today's artistic Ketchikan with the usual historical tales
of the city.
Local artist M. J.
Turek was invited to be the first to participate in "Art
and Artists on the Water"
Photo by Sharon Allen
Captain of The Arctic
David Allen, General Manager of Alaska Cruises
Photo by Sharon Allen
Turek's Deer Mountain
Photo by Sharon Allen
Turek's Oval Bowl
Photo by Sharon Allen
A local artist, MJ Turek, was
invited to be the first to participate in the innovative project.
Turek brought examples of her art and spoke to the passengers
for a brief time during the cruise; explaining a bit about what
inspires her creativity here in Ketchikan.
It made for a good combination. The Historical Waterfront
Tour is often erroneously considered a less exciting tour of
the area, but the additional spark of emotionally charged art
to the mix brought interest from both the young and older visitors
"We have a couple more of these special artistic tours lined
up for the 2005 season and hope to expand the tours next year
to include even more local artists and craftsmen," Allen
said. "We'd like to see this succeed from all points
of interest: we'd like the artists to gain notoriety and perhaps
sell a few of their pieces; we'd like the passengers to have
the opportunity to speak face-to-face with local artists from
the area and have a hands-on experience with their artwork and
thus, learn more about both the past and present Ketchikan; and
of course, we'd like to see sales for this tour increase to raise
profits so that we can invest those monies into more projects
to benefit Ketchikan and its inhabitants and visitors in new
and innovative ways."
Allen is a great supporter of the Arts in Ketchikan and his interest
in the Arts goes back many years. He is an enthusiastic
supporter of The Ketchikan Arts and Humanities Council and has
taken part in productions by First City Players; acting in plays
such as Chicago, You Can't Take It With You, Little Shop of Horrors
and Anne Frank, just to name a few. He hopes his new "Arts
and Artists on the Water" program will be a success and
looks forward to adding several different types of art and artists
to the special tours next year.
"I'm excited about the possibilities," Allen enthused.
"We're lining up more talent for this year, and also hope
to complete negotiations with artists of other media, such as
those creating unique jewelry or artists of poetry and prose."
Those onboard visiting from the Island Princess yesterday seemed
to be excited about the idea as well. "Thank you for
sharing your wonderful art," one passenger commented to
Turek upon departing the tour. "We enjoyed it very
And it is wonderful art. Born and raised in Ketchikan,
it's natural that she would use images and objects found within
her home town to include in her watercolors paintings and "Deer
One attendee was overheard saying, "Cool. The watercolors
of her landscapes are from the more unique spots on the island
and the materials she uses in some things are quite interesting."
The materials he was talking about were the components used in
Turek's "Deer Mountain Baskets" and those backing her
watercolors. Most of her paintings are done on cold
press paper; however, Turek uses her own handmade papers as backings,
and sometimes will even include "found objects" affixed
to the actual artwork as a complement. Turek was more than
happy to explain to the passengers the logistics involved in
"The baskets are made with handmade paper, and then many
of these paintings are backed with handmade paper. . ,"
MJ told the crowd, adding, "the way I make the paper is
to go out and gather something out of my garden or out of the
woods like fireweed, peonies, seaweed or other plant stuffs and
I also incorporate recycled paper because if you only use plant
stuff, your paper could shrink and be quite brittle."
She then shreds it, puts it in a large container, adds water,
uses a blender to "combine" the art, and then spreads
it on a screen to dry. Anything from Ketchikan might find
its way into her art. Cedar branches and barks, seeds,
skunk cabbage, daisies, beach glass; all are candidates for a
gallery exhibit one day.
Most of her "Deer Mountain Baskets" are just that
pretty pastel paper baskets with cedar pieces as handles
perfect as hostess gifts with little decadent candies or as bathroom
potpourri containers. As for her watercolors, most are
landscapes done in the familiar greens, blues and grays of Ketchikan,
holding comfort out as a balm to a homesick spirit. But
some are more vibrant, with jubilant colors splashing about in
a puddle of sun. A few have figures, but most are introspective
works that teach the viewer about the overall spirit of our little
town, rather than the specific soul of one inhabitant.
Most of Turek's smaller paintings or prints range from $20 to
$50 and the other artwork is priced anywhere from $12 to $45.
She also has larger paintings in both watercolor and acrylics
for sale, but due to space restrictions, was not able to bring
many examples of them. The costs of these pieces vary greatly
depending on the medium used and the difficulty of the subject
matter, as well as the final framing.
Smiling, after making a sale, Turek said when asked, "It's
nice to have somebody like it enough to buy it," said Turek.
"Yes, it makes you want to go and create more when someone
appreciates something you've done and when they get the same
feeling from something you've done. Then you're inspired
to go and do something more."
Allen hopes Turek was inspired
by the experience yesterday to do just that create more
art. He also hopes that the growing excitement in Ketchikan's
artistic community about his idea will catch on in the Cruise
Ship Community and generate great interest for those passengers
Plans are already in motion to add other varieties of art next
year and Allen is calling for artists who are interested to contact
him. All art forms are eligible; oils, charcoal,
watercolor, sculpture, poetry, carving, jewelry, wearable art,
native, etc. Any one interested in participating should
call Alaska Cruises at 225-0644 or they can send an email to
for more information.
Another special offering of "Art and Artists on the Water"
will take place sometime in July, depending on the Cruise Ship
scedules. Please call 225-0644 for more information if
you are in the area and would like a ticket, or if you are arriving
on a Cruise Ship, please see your Shore Ex for more details.
Sharon Allen is a freelance
writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Sharon at sharon(AT)sitnews.us
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