We breathe the arts in Juneau. Where else in a town of 32,000 would you find two symphony orchestras, a big band, two opera companies, two professional theaters, a community theater, Tlingit dance groups, more authors and painters than you can shake a stick at, a dance company, an annual weeklong folk music festival, and an annual jazz and classics festival? And there is more. I wonder how it can all happen. Just last weekend, I attended some of the monthly First Friday events - galleries and cafes and shops exhibit photography and paintings and jewelry by local artists and book signings by local authors while the city and state museums hosted new exhibits. The mood was playful and curious and happy. In Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, I want to a reception for the installation of paintings that had been sent away to be cleaned right before the church burned to the ground. Now in the newly rebuilt church, they have been brought back, the only things left - it felt quite miraculous to see the very old paintings, restored and evoking the spirit of the venerable old church.
Afterwards, I walked down the street to witness four actors doing a short play in the display window of The Canvas, a community art studio. It was the first time anyone had ever tried it. And for the most part, it worked - except that the windows kept steaming up. The crowd loved it - art flourishes in an encouraging environment.
Lest you think that Alaska fosters only certain kinds of art, think again. We are very big into stuffed and mounted trophies too. I think we go a long way to welcome personal expression. It makes for a very lively place to live.