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Raven and Eagle

Raven and Eagle

When I tell people I live in Alaska, I almost invariably hear about a visit to Anchorage. Either that or a relative who lives there. It’s the geographic equivalent of saying; “Oh you live in Denver; I’ve been to Albuquerque,” except that Denver and Albuquerque are closer to one another, and more similar. There really is a world of difference between Barrow and Anchorage. The Anchorage skyline is full of mountains, and it doesn’t lack for trees. I always notice those first. And then I notice all the people.

I also notice the artwork.

From my first visit to Anchorage, I took a shine to its public artwork. There is a particular downtown alley so full of murals I find myself headed towards it every time I make it into town. And yes, I am happy this city is part of he state I now call home, which is probably why it makes sense after all that people bring it up. I never get into or out of Alaska without going through this stopping point.

…which is a very good thing.

I am particularly fond of a number of murals featuring themes from Alaska Natives. The Raven and Eagle symbolism is of course a prominent feature of Tlingit life, and a number of murals feature hunting motifs familiar to Yupit and Inupiat. A few specific highlights of the tour would include:

– The Iditarod Mural, which now includes the name of John Quniak Baker, an Inupiat from Kotsebue. He won the race in 2011.

– A rather bland looking multi-panel piece with just a hint of something devious in it. (Honestly, I don’t know if I got all the panels right, but look closely. There is an interesting twist in there somewhere.)

– A Mural commemorating Alaska statehood. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘Alaskan Mount Rushmore’. It features portraits of Robert Atwood, Bob Bartlett,¬†William Egan, and Ernest Gruening, each of which has been generated out of a range of smaller murals. You can find out more about this piece here.

– A Whaling Wall, one of a series of spectacular pieces created by the Wyland Corporation.

– The Sun Station at the Anchorage Light Speed Planet Walk.

– The Anchorage History Mural by Bob Patterson, …which should probably get its own post some day.

– I’m particularly fond of the murals on the backside of Phyllis’s Cafe, not the least of reasons being that she was kind enough to talk to me about it for a little while. the Tlingit symbolism in the mural is no accident as Phyllis belongs to the Eagle Moiety, Killer Whale clan as I recall. She told me the mural still has a little work to go. Perhaps, I will be taking new pictures of it some time in the near future. I also enjoyed a wonderful meal of King Crab and amber ale in the cafe that evening, the perfect ending to a long trip.

I have by no means captured all the artwork anchorage streets and alleys have to offer, which is good, because I plan on going back for more.

(You may click on a picture to embiggen it.)