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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 hat 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.)