Jake Grieser carves a leather zombie duck mask for his rap album cover, and Wrangell High School student Teresa Flores shows off the mask she was making on her second day of papier mache class. Katie Emmets

Skagway School hosts Southeast Art Fest for the first time


Seventy-two Alaska high school students are learning how to create art in Skagway this week as part of the 16th annual Southeast Art Fest.
The students, who are from 11 different Southeast communities, are each enrolled in two of the 21 classes offered this year.
But this isn’t just for students, said Art Fest coordinator and Skagway School teacher Dottie DeMark.
There are nine adults who signed up and are taking art classes along side the students.
There are 11 Skagway artists teaching classes for Art Fest. Deb Ackerman is teaching stained glass, Chris Maggio is teaching ukulele making, Tegan Baldwin is teaching leather mask making, Michelle Pierce is teaching journal and collage, Kendall Nordin is teaching contemporary art, John Harris is teaching wire wrap jewelry, Donna Griffard is teaching torchwork glass beads, Bruce Dansby is teaching pen and ink cartooning, Eve Griffin is teaching anatomy and figure drawing and Jack Inhofe is teaching ivory carving.
“Local artists are a little apprehensive to teach, but they got out of their comfort zone and agreed to do this,” she said. “I think they are all having a great time.”
DeMark said she is appreciative to the Skagway School Board for approving this event.
“”It is an unbelievable opportunity for our kids to see other kids from Southeast Alaska enthusiastic about art,” she said.
Teresa Flores, a ninth grade student from Wrangell High School, said she is excited for her first Art Fest.
“I get to participate in things I didn’t know I could do,” said the 14-year-old. “And I didn’t know it could be so easy.”
Though she loves to draw, Flores said she didn’t sign up for any Art Fest workshops that involve drawing because she wanted to learn new things. Instead, she is making a fish and a mask in papier mache class, and on Tuesday, she painted someone’s face to look like a tiger.
“I love face painting,” she said. “You get to see how other people do it, and they are able to teach you.”
Flores said she thinks all students should participate in Art Fest and added that Skagway was a great place to have it.
“I think Skagway has really good artists and they are really creative teachers,” she said.
One of those teachers is Skagway artist Tegan Baldwin, who is teaching a leather mask making course.

Zack Wassman (left) flips through photos he took on his phone as part a project on the first day of a contemporary art class taught by Kendall Nordin (center end of table). Polly Brown (center) and Zoe Wassman (left with hat) listen as Ashley Duross of Petersburg teaches about still life oil painting.

Riley Westfall adds newspaper to his papier mache plane, and Hannah O’Daniel carves her mask in the beginning stages of an Art Fest leather mask making course.

Though there is no art program at Skagway School, Baldwin teaches art to students regularly through a Skagway Arts Council program. Funding for art instruction in the school and Art Fest this year is coming from a $10,000 grant from Margaret Frans Brady Fund.
“(Art Fest) is the most advanced outlet in the area for young artisans to try things they would never try in a public school,” she said.
Baldwin said this is so because a lot of the courses offered use materials such as hot plates, razor blades and cyanotype prints, which wouldn’t be allowed in a school setting.
In leather mask making, students carve the leather, mold it to their faces and paint it, but in Art Fest classes, students learn about the history of the art too — not just how to create it.
“Almost every culture has masks, and they are all used in different ways,” she said. “Usually masks represent something inside of you; something you can’t show yourself.”
For those who wish to view or purchase art created during Art Fest, there will be an art auction tonight at Kirmse’s. located on Fifth and Broadway.
A silent auction will take place from 7-9 p.m. and a live auction with auctioneer Wayne Selmer will begin at 8:15 p.m.
“Art Fest teachers will donate whatever they make during their workshops to the auction,” DeMark said. “And the proceeds will go toward next year’s art fest.