Sunday, May 31, 2009

PA Arts Sunday - May 31, 2009 -- Three Reviews of the Expanded Rassie Museum

There are three reviews available on the web now, of the newly reopened, klutzily renamed Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center. I hope to get down there fairly soon, but don't know when. Meanwhile, three good friends have reviewed the new public facility, and each has his or her own take on it:

Mike Dunham, the Arts Editor at the Anchorage Daily News, wrote a fairly standard review of the finished space, that the ADN published on May 23rd. He describes the facility's new features in detail. In an otherwise totally straightforward article, Dunham's closest approach to snark is this:

The ConocoPhillips Gallery (not to be confused with the ConocoPhillips Gallery at Alaska Pacific University) will showcase contemporary art by Native Alaskans.

The Mudflats' AK Muckraker toured the museum on May 27th, writing about the experience the following day. The article at Mudflats is full of the wit one used to be able to find at local writing niches such as the Alaska Ear (alors and alas, that humor well has all but dried up!), but can increasingly discover at our Alaska progressive blogs:

So, when I got an email last week inviting me as a member of “the media” (!) to come take a preview of the soon-to-be-open new Anchorage Museum expansion, and tour the special exhibit “Gold,” I was rather beside myself. It’s a good thing I wasn’t asked in person because the bouncing up and down and hand clapping that ensued would have been embarrassing. Luckily, I was alone in the office, and I wrote back something like, “Thank you for inviting me. I look forward to it….Best Wishes….bla bla bla.” I sounded extremely adult about it, I’m sure.

And I did try really hard to control myself throughout the tour, while inside feeling like one of the golden ticket winners in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

AK Muckraker goes on to describe the tour's start:

There were a couple inevitable questions about why the new part of the museum looks nothing like the old part. The answer was that the “rectilinear shape” was consistent, but the material was more in keeping with snazzy new museums, and not the brick and mortar museums of the past. So basically they could have tried to make it look the same, or not. They chose not. Some people will hate it. Some people will think it’s great. Some people won’t care. It started to rain and we went inside.

And AK Muckraker, after describing various parts of the expansion project, concentrates on the American Museum of Natural History's Gold Exhibit, which will be featured until early August:

There was something for everyone from the chemist, to the adventurer, to the treasure hunter, to the art aficionado. They even had several stations set up for kids where they can electroplate objects with copper, make their own crown, and learn about density.

Steve from What Do I Know? posted a review of the new space this morning. Here's part of his detailed description of the architect's interior centerpiece, the staircase:

The stairwell!! This is positively and totally avant garde. And you thought we were some hicktown whose museum would feature local items of artistic and historical significance. No way. Our grandest new work of art, with a four story gallery all to itself, is an homage to Anchorage fitness - a stairwell. No wimpy escalators for us.

Steve centers his article around aspects of the staircase, and how its function is described in explanatory material posted along adjacent walls.

Both Steve's and AK Muckrakers excellent photographs are an additional treat, and are taken from entirely different photographer's philosophies. Steve also has a video posted of Yaqui traditional performance artist, Gabriel Ayala.

I can't wait to get there. It is interesting that fine arts coverage by Alaska's progressive blogs is becoming an important aspect of what some of us choose to cover. Steve, in particular, has covered scores of concerts, locally produced and/or written plays, Alaskan film festivals, and exhibits.

Over this past winter, there has been more coverage of Alaska fine arts events - particularly in the Anchorage area by local bloggers - than by all other Alaska media combined. The new online news sources, the Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Standard, haven't quite come up with a fine arts approach yet. I can't imagine that the Alaska Standard ever will.

Update: I neglected to include Maia at Own the Sidewalk. She writes for the ADN and sometimes covers the arts from her own place.

Additionally, I should have mentioned that Steve's coverage often encompasses entire festivals (as he does in non-arts spheres), resulting in multimedia, multi-post extravaganzas that go beyond what any media in Alaska has ever before accomplished.

images - AK Muckraker and Steve


the problem child said...

I agree with you, Phil, that the bloggers do an exceptional job of providing lively, informed articles about the local arts scene. You won't toot your own horn, so I will do it for you -- you are among those doing it.

Anonymous said...

PA Arts Sunday - May 31, 2009 -- Three Reviews of the Expanded Rassie Museum

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