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Summer Flying Around the West for Art and Kids

Summer Flying Around the West for Art and Kids

Send your kids outside to college and well, you know, they often don’t return. As empty nesters, husband Dave’s and my art travel includes regular visits to our kids who reside on both coasts. So we stole a week of Alaska’s fleeting June to catch up with LA son Oliver and gf-Kate Vescera, and take in some summer art of the West. With our pets at Rabbit Creek Kennels and the lawn mowed, we packed lightly for three cities in a week.

July 2, 2015
Arctic Ambiance

Arctic Ambiance

John Webber’s A Human Sacrifice, c 1780-84

The other day, husband Dave and I couldn’t get our SUV tail light unscrewed. After trying to drill out what we thought were chewed threads, we headed to Anchorage T-Tops and Automotive to see Butch Barney, owner and professor extraordinaire of all things auto body. Turned out, what we thought was a worn phillips-head was some kind of hexagonal/octagonal screw which Barney says is only used to confuse customers.

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June 5, 2015

Springtime Art in New York City Comes in all Shapes

Art blockbusters don’t jump out in New York City the way they did several decades ago. That’s not all bad, as smaller venues don’t sport long lines.  In spite of a blustery mid-April week, husband Dave and I found good hunting, discovering a variety of art spaces. We also caught an ‘off-off’ and a ‘Times Square’ Broadway show and found a new place for dinner. So hop on public transportation with us as we explore springtime art in Gotham.

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May 1, 2015
Artist Mariano Gonzales, Paradoxically not in Shadows

Artist Mariano Gonzales, Paradoxically not in Shadows

Oh Say, Can't You See (2014)

The Anchorage Museum exhibition Mariano Gonzales A Man in the Shadows (thru April 19) is as complicated and complex as it is formally beautiful and entertaining. The show is predominately made of metal murals about the size of full plywood sheets. When Gonzales bangs out sheets of aluminum, geometric ‘-agons’ emerge. These metal skins become large dimpled-esque tessellations resembling stacked ice cube trays. Digital printing somehow neatly appears on these dented skins.

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April 6, 2015
Yes, there is Color to a New York City February

Yes, there is Color to a New York City February

Am I crazy? It’s a sunless winter in Anchorage, made darker by minimal snow clinging to roadways, all icy and gritty. Forget sun and sand, I’m off to New York City to hunt down some color. Everyone knows unless you are headed into the woods for a true Alaskan winter, you don’t need boots and mittens for driving to Costco. Last night, while eating pizza at Moose’s Tooth, husband Dave and I sat near a guy wearing shorts and a t-shirt—yes, flip flops are replacing sorels in the far North. Ok, I need lots of polar fleece up here and when we landed at Newark Airport, we were glad to dig out gore-tex and mittens.

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March 10, 2015
Tapered Flower Headband

Tapered Flower Headband

This simple crocheted headband is my best-selling product. I sell out of it at Bella Boutique every holiday season. You can’t go wrong — it’s colorful and has a huge flower on it. I also love embellishing the back of the headband with a vintage button.

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March 1, 2015
Dispatch from Juneau: Smoked Alaska Black Cod Dip

Dispatch from Juneau: Smoked Alaska Black Cod Dip

One thing Juneau does well is seafood. In my opinion, Alaska’s ocean bounty is second to none. As I was browsing the offerings at a fantastic local shop, Jerry’s Meats and Seafoods, I came across a package of smoked Alaska black cod. While wild Alaska salmon hogs most of the spotlight (and justifiably so), black cod is the unsung hero of Alaskan seafood. Rich, meaty, and incredibly tasty, it might actually be my favorite Alaskan fish.

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February 28, 2015
A Yearly Flood Into The Gulf Of Alaska

A Yearly Flood Into The Gulf Of Alaska

Satellite data has confirmed that the amount of freshwater released into the Gulf of Alaska from streams and rivers in Alaska and northern Canada is about 1.5 times what the Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf of Mexico each year.

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February 26, 2015
Fuzzy Ombre Scarflet

Fuzzy Ombre Scarflet

Last summer an old friend of mine got married on the Greek island of Paros, which is known for its brilliantly white buildings contrasted against the blue Aegean Sea. I wanted to send her a handmade wedding gift that represented the beautiful location of her wedding. Since I have limited artistic talent (I am not a brilliant illustrator as she is), I decided to knit her an ombre scarf. Ombre might still be considered trendy, but I know I’m a little past the height of ombre hype.

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February 25, 2015
Roasted Cauliflower & Broccoli With Lemony Parmesan Breadcrumbs

Roasted Cauliflower & Broccoli With Lemony Parmesan Breadcrumbs

Back to the food. I’ve lost track of how many friends are resolving to drop a few pounds this year. A little less candy, a few more carrots. In that spirit, this dish of roasted cauliflower and broccoli, topped with crunchy, lemony, cheesy panko breadcrumbs is about as close as you get to wanting seconds when it comes to veggies.

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February 24, 2015
Tore 031203 2 (By Erik Holmstedt)

Winter Is For Sleuthing At Your Local Museum

Museums are temples that explain a culture but they can be intimidating—you may feel you don’t belong, you’re not on ‘the’ board.

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February 5, 2015
Augustine Volcano during its 2005-2006 eruption. (Photo by Cyrus Read, Alaska Volcano Observatory/USGS)

Digging Up Augustine’s Top-Heavy Legacy

Augustine Volcano sits alone, a 4,000-foot pyramid on its own island in Cook Inlet. Like many volcanoes, it has a tendency to become top heavy. When gravity acts on Augustine’s oversteepened dome, rockslides spill into the ocean. A scientist recently found new evidence for an Augustine-generated tsunami from a time when Egyptian pharaohs built their own pyramids.

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January 29, 2015
(Photo via U.S. Fish and Wildlife)

Nature Lesson

It’s 6:33 a.m. Most of Anchorage is on its way to work. I’m on my second cup of coffee. Three moose lie sleeping in my front yard. The cow and one of the calves awaken now, their heads raised, ears alert to something at the end of the street. The other calf is laid out flat on his side. It’s the most Zen moose I’ve ever seen.

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January 9, 2015
Jeanne Branch Johnston’s uncle Rod Mason took this photo of a tsunami wave that hit Hilo, Hawaii, on April 1, 1946. (Rod Mason photo, courtesy Pacific Tsunami Museum)

Tsunami Survivor Shares Her Story

On April 1, 1946, the sea floor ruptured just south of Unimak Island in the Aleutian Islands. Seawater displaced by the giant earthquake sent a 100-foot wave into the Scotch Cape lighthouse on Unimak, destroying the concrete structure and killing the five men inside. They never knew what hit them in the 2 a.m. darkness.

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January 6, 2015
Big, Fluffy Brioche Cowl

Big, Fluffy Brioche Cowl

Now that the holidays are over and my handmade gifts have been delivered I can start posting some more patterns. Earlier this winter I became mildly obsessed with the brioche stitch. I found this lovely tutorial and pattern for a cowl and I came up with a simple headband/turban using the same stitch.

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January 5, 2015
Peter Paul Rubens Triumph of the Church (1626)

Art and Politics are Not so Strange Bedfellows

As art aficionados know, anything aesthetic is the first thing cut at school board meetings—art is considered a frill! This month’s line-up ought to send the naysayers rethinking.

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January 2, 2015
Skating at Portage (Photo by Neil O'Donnell)

’Tis the Season to Discover the Unobtrusive Aesthetician

I just began the somewhat daunting task of writing a dissertation on the art of Winston Churchill. However for my townsquare49.org columns I get to be less academic when writing about international art exhibitions and master artists. For variety, I decided to seek out quiet artisans in my neighborhood; amongst all of us lurks what I refer to as the Unobtrusive Aesthetician. As art critic Jerry Saltz says, “In the end it all comes down to… a life lived in art.”

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December 1, 2014

Twenty Weeks Through The Heart Of Alaska

It is a very remarkable fact that a region under a civilized government for more than a century should remain so completely unknown as the vast territory drained by the Copper, Tanana and Koyukuk Rivers.

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December 1, 2014

Zig-Zag Chevron Hat — A Free Knitting Pattern

Today I decided to try fair isle again by designing something simple — zig zags. I’ve included the chart and the row-by-row instructions. I recommend knitting the patterned portion in a place with little distraction and possibly without other people. I end up counting out loud “knit one, knit two, knit three, knit two,” etc. so I don’t get lost in the pattern. It’s not difficult, but requires a fair amount of focus.

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November 26, 2014

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers, Walnuts, and Anchovies

The Best.  It’s a bold statement, right?  To say something is the BEST you’ve ever tasted.  People throw the phrase around too loosely and apply it to things that simply don’t deserve such high praise.  “This is the best corn dog I have EVER tasted!” “Have you tried this burger! Best burger ever!” “OMG, this cheese may be the BEST CHEESE EVER.”  And we all know that the chances of that corn dog, burger, or piece of cheese being the BEST EVER are pretty slim.

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November 25, 2014