State of Art is a weekly program covering arts, entertainment, and culture in the Anchorage area.

Hosted by:
Ammon Swenson and Will Franklin.

Reach us by email:

Listen to State of Art on Fridays at 2:45 p.m.

State of Art: Virtual Anchorage concerts, a new youth podcast and more

This week on State of Art we’re featuring Anchorage musicians Emma Hill, The Forest that Never Sleeps and the Jephries. We also preview a new youth podcast from Story Works Alaska.

State of Art: Sexual assault survivors tell their stories with “Unheard”

On the heels of winning a Pulitzer Prize for their series “Lawless,” the ADN and Propublica began publishing stories from sexual assault survivors along with their photos. The project is now an outdoor exhibit at the Anchorage Museum featuring large portraits, quotes and audio clips of the survivors themselves.

State of Art: Anchorage musician James Glaves releases solo material

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from Anchorage musician James Glaves. He’s been involved with a huge amount of projects from playing in bands to recording and producing them.

State of Art: Reminders of our past or symbols of oppression? An Alaska artist reflects on statues of figures with checkered pasts

This week on State of Art, we’re hearing from Nicholas Galanin Yeil Ya-Tseen, a Tlingit-Unangax̂ artist from Sitka. We also check out some of the Anchorage Downtown Partnership’s virtual concert series.

State of Art: Talking “21st Sensory” with Anchorage musician Chad Reynvaan

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from Chad Reynvaan. His musical fingerprints are all over the Anchorage music scene, whether he’s playing in a band or recording one at his own Wattage Studio. He tells us about his new album “21st Sensory,” the appeal of vintage gear and his tendencies towards dad-rock. We also check out his new track “Permanently Lost.”

State of Art: Anchorage photographers and community rally to raise money for marginalized groups in light of national demonstrations

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from local photographer Jovell Rennie. After getting caught up in the frenzy of demonstrations following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Rennie wanted to do something more than just document the local protests. Working with friends, colleagues and community members, Rennie and company put on the “I Can’t Breathe” First Friday and fundraising event at his gallery, Akela Space, in downtown Anchorage.

State of Art: “Crude Conversations” podcast highlights Alaska culture and voices worth recognizing

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from journalist and podcast host, Cody Liska. His podcast “Crude Conversations” spawned from an ambitious DIY zine publication and social media presence called “Crude Magazine.” He has deep roots in Alaska’s snowboard scene, but Liska’s interviewees range from athletes and educators to activists and artists. We talk about how he got his start, what he’s learned and why we do this.

State of Art: The Spenard Jazz Fest goes online while Anchorage keeps its distance. Plus, who was the charismatic criminal Joe Spenard?

This week on State of Art we’re talking Spenard — the man and the jazz festival. We learn about the newly virtual Spenard Jazz Fest and we hear from a local historian about the colorful Joe Spenard, the namesake of the Anchorage road and neighborhood.

State of Art: Alaska’s favorite storytelling event goes virtual

This week on State of Art we’re checking out two stories from the recent virtual Arctic Entries event. Hosts and storytellers connected with the audience via Facebook Live from their homes in a close approximation of a typical Arctic Entries. Our first storyteller talks about losing love and finding herself stuck in Canada, while our second storyteller tells us about connections and isolation while working in Antarctica.

State of Art: With no exhibitions, UAA art grads have an unconventional end to school. Plus, a track from Anchorage’s Juicy Harps

This week on State of Art we’re finding out how graduating amidst a pandemic affected UAA art students and we hear a beer-centric track from folk trio, Juicy Harps.

State of Art: Virtual festivals aim to reconnect Alaskans

This week on State of Art we learn about AKAK, a virtual music festival featuring local musicians streaming tonight. We also find out what to expect from Anchorage Community Theater’s weekly Virtual Short Play Festival.

State of Art: New music from The Jephries, Kittiwake and Braided River

This week on State of Art we’re hearing new music from local bands Braided River, The Jephries and Kittiwake.

State of Art: Learn how to apply for the Ted Stevens Young Alaskan Artist award. Plus, a song from Duke Russell and the Shirt Tuckers.

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from Juliana Osinchuk, founder of the award that ultimately became the Ted Stevens Young Alaskan Artist Award. Organized by the Anchorage Festival of Music, the award goes to an Alaska classical musician ready to take their next step into the professional world. We learn about the classical-music-focused award and how to apply. We also hear a track from Anchorage artist Duke Russell’s musical project, the Shirt Tuckers, called “Spiritual Poptart.”

State of Art: A poem from Don Rearden, a virtual First Friday from the Anchorage Museum and revisiting Arctic Entries

This week on State of Art we have a poem from local author, Don Rearden, called “Listen and Learn.” We also get a glimpse into the Anchorage Museum’s virtual First Friday featuring composer Mathew Burtner and his piece “Nuiqsut Bell” for the museum’s Listen Up: Northern Soundscapes series. Finally, we hear a bear story from Arctic Entries from earlier this year.

State of Art: Local performers turn to the web, a new book about Alaska journalist Genie Chance and a poem from Don Rearden

This week on State of Art we have a taste of Anchorage band Saturday Cinders’ recent online performance and an interview about “This is Chance!” a new book about Alaska journalist Genie Chance and her invaluable reporting following the 1964 earthquake. We also have a poem from local author Don Rearden.

State of Art: Ways to enjoy the Anchorage Museum while keeping your distance

This week on State of Art we hear from Anchorage Museum director and CEO Julie Decker. She tells us about the museum’s latest public art project, accessing their collection online and virtual tours of other museums.

State of Art: Anchorage’s Duke Russell reflects on the good and bad of childhood with his first comic book

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from Anchorage artist Duke Russell. He tells us about his history with comics, self-reflection while sober and we get a taste of his current musical project, The Shirt Tuckers.

State of Art: Navigating cultural appropriation with Anchorage artist and educator, Thomas Chung

This week on State of Art, artist and educator, Thomas Chung joins us for a conversation about cultural appropriation, his approach to art and finding humor in dark places.

State of Art: Young performers can cut their teeth at these Anchorage under 21 open mics

Being a young performer can be tough in Anchorage. If you’re not old enough to drink, your options of venues are slim. That’s why the Anchorage Music Co-op teamed up with local youth to establish Under 21 Open Mic.

State of Art: New book examines African American history in Alaska

From whalers who left port in New Bedford, Massachusetts to soldiers who helped build the Alcan Highway, African Americans have a long history in Alaska. University of Alaska Anchorage history professor Ian Hartman recently released a book called “Black History in the Last Frontier.”

State of Art: Anchorage Opera’s ‘Frida’ opens this weekend. Check out this conversation with the leads discussing the unique production

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from “Frida” leads Catalina Cuervo, who plays Frida Kahlo, the iconic Mexican artist, and Bernardo Bermudez, who plays Diego Rivera, the famous Mexican muralist and Kahlo’s husband.

State of Art: A program at the Anchorage Museum lets people with sensory-sensitivities experience exhibits in a way that works for them

Once a month during the museum’s winter hours, one exhibit is open and modified to accommodate people with sensory-sensitivities. Multi-media presentations might be turned down or off, lights dimmed and activities are provided as an alternate means of engaging with the museum.

State of Art: Revisiting past Anchorage Folk Festival performances

The Anchorage Folk Festival wrapped up its 31st annual folk music extravaganza. The festival includes workshops, performances and featured guest artists. Folk Fest chief sound engineer Lucy Peckham dug through her archives and passed these tracks along.

State of Art: Making connections with Anchorage’s Festival of Cultural Stories. An interview with Shirley Mae Springer-Staten

Springer-Staten remembers her aunt, an amazing storyteller, recounting the lynching of a young African American boy and the impact that and other stories had on her. While physical barriers to racial harmony are somewhat less blatant these days, it’s the mental barriers between cultures Springer-Staten hopes to break with the Festival of Cultural Stories.

State of Art: Looking back on the Anchorage Folk Festival with long-time chief sound engineer, Lucy Peckham

This week on State of Art, Peckham joins us to talk about her time behind the board at the Anchorage Folk Fest, smoking mixing boards and watching Folk Fest kids grow up.

State of Art: Anchorage theater group RKP Productions examines age and class with Dick Reichman’s “Florida”

RKP Productions’ Audrey Kelly and Dick Reichman stopped by the Alaska Public Media studios to talk about their unique theater company, the legacy of collaborator Robert Pond and revisiting a dormant play.

State of Art: Anchorage musicians raised the bar in 2019. Here are some highlights

This week on State of Art we’re looking back on some excellent local releases that came out last year.

State of Art: Storytelling Saturday Theater at the Anchorage Museum

This week on State of Art we’re talking about Storytelling Saturday Theater. For their first season, SST is performing different family-friendly versions of the Cinderella story from cultures around the world.

State of Art: Jimmy Riordan resurrects a retired bookmobile

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from artist Jimmy Riordan. He spoke with Hometown Alaska host Kathleen McCoy about his new project involving a retired bookmobile, raising funds for repairs and what comes next.

State of Art: Sheila Wyne and James Temte

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from local artists Sheila Wyne and James Temte.

State of Art: Anchorage Community Concert Band winter performance: “The Sounds of Music”

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from Mark Wolbers, director of the Anchorage Community Concert Band. We talk about their upcoming winter concert, “The Sounds of Music,” the volunteer band, and some background about the pieces they’ll be playing.

State of Art: “Midnight Son” with James Dommek Jr. and music from Anchorage band The High Pets

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from Alaska musician and writer James Dommek Jr. He sat down with Alaska Public Media’s Casey Grove to talk about Dommek’s new project “Midnight Son.” The sound-rich, narrative podcast is a bestseller from Audible and tells the story of Teddy Kyle Smith, a well-known Alaska Native actor convicted of attempted murder. We also hear “Leaves,” a track from Anchorage band The High Pets’ new album “Burn Forever.”

State of Art: Anchorage Civic Orchestra, The Jangle Bees

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from Oleg Proskurnya, director of the Anchorage Civic Orchestra. Their Fall Concert is Saturday, Nov. 16 in the Sydney Lawrence Theater. We also have a track from Anchorage’s The Jangle Bees off their self-titled album.

State of Art: Spenard Art Studio and Arlitia Jones’ “Summerland”

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from Gayla Ranf, owner of Spenard Art Studio. She talks about the new space and creating using encaustics. We also look at “Summerland” from Anchorage playwright Arlitia Jones and Cyrano’s Theater Company. The play wraps up its Anchorage run Sunday, Nov. 10.

State of Art: November 1, 2019

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from playwright and screenwriter Vera Starbard. Her Perseverance Theater produced play “Devilfish” is finishing its Anchorage run on November 3. She talks about keeping things authentic while weaving together Tlingit legend and history.

State of Art: “The Ice Maiden”

It’s theater season and a weekly dose of Anchorage arts and culture just isn’t enough to get it all out there. In this SOA bonus interview, we hear from “The Ice Maiden” director Dick Reichman and cast member Krista Schwarting.

State of Art: October 25th, 2019

This week on State of Art we’re getting an education on opera. We learn about “The Barber of Seville,” the first production of the season from Anchorage Opera. Stage director Laura Alley and Anchorage Opera principal conductor Brian DeMaris put “The Barber” in historical context and talk about why it’s a good introduction to the art form.

State of Art: October 18, 2019

We’re wrapping up our membership drive and we have a couple of pieces to give your ears a rest.

State of Art: October, 11 2019

This week on State of Art we’re in our fall membership drive. We featured an old tune from Jared Woods and an even older one from Alaska Public Media’s Shonti Elder. We also featured a story from the Spirit of Youth Awards.

State of Art: October 4th, 2019

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from Anchorage author, Don Rearden. His most recent project is “Warrior’s Creed,” a memoir he co-wrote with Roger Sparks, a decorated veteran who has served as a Recon Marine and an Alaska Pararescuman. We learn about what goes into co-writing a book, reliving other people’s trauma, and doing their stories justice.

State of Art: September 27th, 2019

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from Anchorage band Tanana Rafters. They recently recorded some tracks for a new video series from Alaska Public Media called Polar Playlists. We check out those tracks and find out more about the band.

State of Art: September 20th, 2019

This week on State of Art we’re talking about the superhero comedy “Hearts Like Fists,” from Cyrano’s Theater Company. We hear from director Frank Delaney and cast member Kaichen McCrae. We talk superheros, cast chemistry, and stage fighting.

State of Art: September 13, 2019

On this week’s State of Art we’re hearing from Juneau artist David Woodie. His solo exhibition “Studio 212” opened this month at Cyrano’s ArtSpace Gallery. We’ll also hear about a University of Alaska Anchorage professor whose pop-up book aims to teach kids about what happens when plastics reach the ocean.

State of Art: September 6th, 2019

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from local artist Maxine Fekete. Back in June, she opened her first solo exhibition. A couple of weeks later, she was in the hospital after a random attack in downtown Anchorage. The closing day of her show turned into celebration of being alive. She tells us about the attack, her recovery, and what’s next.

State of Art: August 30th, 2019

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from Anchorage band Medium Build. Singer Nick Carpenter and multi-instrumentalist/audio guru James Glaves let us know what they’ve been up to and what they have planned. We talk about Nick touring with Tiny Desk Concert winner Quinn Christopherson, Medium Build’s new video, and their upcoming album.

State of Art: August 23rd, 2019

This week on State of Art we’re handing the mic off to Anchorage artist Duke Russell. He interviews his occasional collaborator Ted Kim, who recently opened a solo exhibition at Middle Way Cafe called “At Home.” It runs until Oct. 5th.

State of Art: August 16th, 2019

This week on State of Art we’re looking at what the Anchorage Concert Association has coming up on their fall schedule. ACA Executive Director Jason Hodges stopped by Alaska Public Media to give us a sneak peak.

State of Art: August 9th, 2019

This week on State of art we’re talking Stories at the Cemetery and hearing from an Alaska musician who sang on the theme song for the new PBS Kids show Molly of Denali.

State of Art: August 2nd, 2019

Welcome to the first episode of State of Art. This week we’re talking about First Friday — what it’s like in Anchorage and what’s happening at the Anchorage Museum for August’s First Friday. We also hear from Jenni May Toro, lead singer of Anchorage band The Modern Savage.