Sealaska Heritage Institute will showcase contemporary masterpieces of Northwest Coast art at its first art auction in an effort to promote Native art, raise funds for construction of the Walter Soboleff Center and to establish Juneau as the capital of Northwest Coast art. The auction will be held February 1, 2014.
5:30 PM: Silent Auction and Reception
6:30 PM: Dinner, Fashion Show, and Live Auction
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Pledges from Big Names in Art
SHI’s Native Artist Committee – comprised of Nathan Jackson, Delores Churchill, Nicholas Galanin, and Steve Brown – invited artists from a wide range of mediums to donate a unique piece of art to the auction. The committee’s members, all internationally-renown artists themselves, are also each donating artwork.
Some pieces have already been pledged by other internationally-known artists, including Tlingit artist Preston Singletary and Tsimshian carver David Boxley.
Boxley will donate a large bentwood box, which will be constructed by his son Zach, and then designed, carved, and painted by David. Singletary will be donating a 19-inch totem made of blown and sandcarved glass. Both point to the late Tlingit leader Walter Soboleff as an inspiration and the future Walter Soboleff Center as a cultural landmark.
“The idea that the place is going to be named after him is perfect. All our people – Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian – looked up to him,” said Boxley. “The potential of the Walter Soboleff Center is to be a source of pride, gathering, and inspiration to artists, dancers, and historians who are coming along and coming after us.”
Singletary sees his art, which blends his cultural background with the material of glass, as bringing a new dimension to cultural art.
“It also reflects new directions from within the culture, and shows us that we can interpret the stories through new materials,” Singletary said. “So I have offered a piece of my glass sculpture to be used as a way of fundraising for the Walter Soboleff Center. I see this as an honor and a duty.”
The auction will also feature donations from many other prominent artists, including Robert Davidson, Vivian Benson, David R. Boxley, Archie Cavanaugh, Michael Dangeli, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Zachary Knapp, Larry McNeil, Clarissa Rizal, and many more.
Juneau as Capital for Northwest Coast Art
The auction is patterned after the annual Santa Fe Indian Market, which SHI has studied in recent years. That market, which includes an annual art auction, has created worldwide demand and appreciation of southwest Indian art, said SHI President Rosita Worl, noting the same can be done for Northwest Coast art in the capital city.
“Santa Fe is a community where the whole town is decorated with Native art. And I think what it's done for the community is really promoted an appreciation of Native art and Native people, and I think that's what we're hopeful of creating here in Juneau,” Worl said.
The Walter Soboleff Center will house an array of art programs, including artist-in-residencies, exhibit space, artist demonstrations, and programs to perpetuate Northwest Coast arts. SHI is in its final fundraising push to raise funds to build the facility. SHI’s fundraising effort is spearheaded by the Walter Soboleff Center Capital Campaign Committee, which is chaired by Byron Mallott. The Tlingit word “tinaa” represents a copper shield, which was a symbol of wealth and trade.