Alaska, Alaska Natives, Anchorage, Art, Mural, Photography, Photos, Street Art, Tlingit
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.)
What a damned fine reason to visit this place often!
Anchorage is pretty cool, and I’m told the surrounding area is pretty cool too. One of these days I will get down there with enough time to rent a car and look around.
This is a great post. The photographs are fantastic but you made it so personal and real that it was a real pleasure to read and enjoy. And you’re right. I’m still here looking at each of the pictures they are so fascinating! Thank you!
Thank you, Penny.
Certainly a pleasure Daniel. Alaska has always been a state I’ve wanted to visit, your blog brings it’s riches to light! 🙂
Hi there. Liked this piece too. Nice description of the place you live and interesting pictures. Anders Moberg
Thank you, Anders.
The murals look amazing. I get why people always mention Anchorage!
It’s such a hub that anyone who comes to Alaska seems to go through it. Luckily, it’s a good place to have to go through.
I hope I get the chance to see it for myself 🙂
Denise Merat said:
I always enjoy your blogs! They are well written, friendly, and insightful. I love the collection of murals you’ve posted! Thanks!
Thank you, Denise. Hope your vacation is going well. I know I am enjoying mine.
Great shots. The north is special.
Beautiful pictures! Man, those fur panties really made me laugh. I mean, how much more awesome can you get than to own fur panties? I had flashbacks to watching Conan the Barbarian and thinking Valeria, the woman warrior, was incredibly cool. 😀
You know what’s really funny is I was watching Conan as I put this together. (Yes, I have it.) Speaking of which I have just invaded your city and I am planning plunderous activities as I type. I think I shall look for the riddle of steel at the Komol Kitchen soon. Do you know the place?
Wow, I’ve gotta go there!!!
You gotta say hi if you get out my way. 🙂
Will do! Alaska is on my top 5 list!!!
And then there is the assumption that all Native Alaskans are Eskimo and we live in igloos. Well, now you’ve made me want to visit Anchorage. Fairbanks is always our point of departure to the outside, so I never see it. Really enjoy your site, Daniel. I’d like to link if that is okay.
Thank you. By all means, please do.
First…thank you for stopping by.
Great photos, especially the murals! I’ve never been to Anchorage, nor do I know anyone from there, but it certainly looks interesting…your photos have done it justice!
By the way…I’ve wanted to live on the beach for as long as I can remember and that’s a very long time… :~)
Lol, somehow my beach isn’t a selling point with most folks. I guess they want to walk by the water, not on it. Thank you for your kind comments.
My brother-in-law lived in Anchorage…
I really liked all of the photos of all of the murals. Really interesting!
Great photos of what looks like an interesting city. I’m a fan of murals as well – Seattle has some good ones.
I will have to come through Seattle sometime with my camera. …or just to visit; it seems like a great town.
Check out the Henry murals, if they’re still there: http://beautifulrailwaybridgeofthesilverytay.me/2011/02/11/henry-revealed/ & http://beautifulrailwaybridgeofthesilverytay.me/2011/01/28/henry-2009/
Puppy heart is my fave!
It’s a pretty cool pic. I’ll have to see if I can figure out who he is.
Excellent sequence. Passed this on to family & friends. 🙂
Thank you, elmediat.
Your blog posts are getting better and better, though they kind of rocked to start with. Sorry, I’ve been MIA, though sheesh, you have a lot of fans. Re-emerging now, looking forward to reading many more posts from you. Happy New Year!
Thank you Erika. Glad to see you back. You’re blogging slowed down a bit; Are you back to regularly? (I hope!)
Yep- life just did one of its crazy express rides… hoping for a bit of boring for a while 🙂
Hard to find the right mix of excitement and time to breathe isn’t it?
Hey this is a pretty cool blog; glad you visited mine (I never go searching). I lived there for about 5 years in the late 80s. I don’t remember a single one of these murals, but my eyes were always on the mountains. I got all over the state with my job in summers, so I’m going to follow you and lay the gauntlet down. I want some serious Alaska honesty, and I know you should be able to provide it. Have you read Joe McGinnis’ book Going to Extremes? He nails it.
Thanks for visiting my blog; and leave a like behind. Great series! Cheers, harrie
I lived in AK for 11 years only leaving four years ago, wintering in Anchorage after summers in the wilderness and never came across half of the murals you have photos of! Very cool. Thanks for stopping by my blog too.
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Marilyn Albright said:
This is quite an interesting article about Anchorage. We have spent so little time there in 40 years that I’ve seen few of these murals and buildings! Your post inspires me to visit for more than just going to the airport.
Street art is very common (and beautiful) here in Oaxaca and other parts of Mexico – you might like to check out one of my past posts.
Thanks so much for following my blog, and I am going to take time to read more of your posts and enjoying your excellent photography.
Great post, especially your comments about and descriptions of the murals. 😀 In a one day visit, I saw a few of these, including the fur panties lol! How lucky am I?