Monthly Archives: September 2010

McCarthy AK Museum

antique cash register painting

This painting was created in McCarthy, Alaska’s lovely little museum.  I enjoyed volunteering at this small museum this summer, and will look forward to spending more days there next summer.  The day I decided to work on this painting of an antique cash register, was full of excitement.  Outside on the museum porch are a couple of relics left from the days before the footbridge, two hand-trams that were used to cross over the powerful Kennicott River.  Having arrived after the creation of the footbridge I can only imagine how isolating the hand-tram must have been.  Well, someone else must have had an active imagination as well, as I was painting away inside the museum, a great commotion occurred at the hand-tram.  A large fellow, 300+ lbs, sat down on the hand-tram and flipped it over; he had literally fallen and couldn’t get up!  Well, he asked Maria (my wife) to help him out of the contraption, but she obviously couldn’t budge him, I don’t know how she did it but Maria saved the day and the man was okay.  However the hand-tram exhibit had taken some wear and tear.  It is a good thing that the Museum carries an insurance policy because the hand tram is dangerous. I have smacked my head on it more than once and won’t sit down in it anymore.  We need a sign that says sit at your own risk…okay back to the painting.  I just love this Art Deco cash register and think about the goods that were purchased nearly a century ago.  It really was a long voyage from the steamship to the train, all the way to Kennicott!  This unique antique sure would have felt exotic in the Wrangell mountains, just look at that styling.  They don’t make stuff like this anymore.

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ANVIL…

anvil painting

If only I had an anvil like this, I would build myself a FORGE!  I am looking forward to the day I get my own anvil.  It is especially important to me as an object to paint because of work ethic it symbolizes to me.  This one is from the McCarthy Museum and I look forward to continuing with this series, the artifact series.  There is a beautiful Art Deco cash register that inspires me to paint.  Maybe there will be a later painting of it.  What is it about things from the past?  Why are older objects more stylized?  Why do Modern and Post Modern pieces lack any kind of style?  I feel that these oversimplified aesthetics are relying too heavily on mass appeal, while the older styles have more design value.  Here is a painting dedicated to the older style and to the symbol of work ethic.  Maybe I will bring back Art Nouveau and Art Deco as Neo-Art Deco-Nouveau…a revival, if you will.  I think it could make for some beautiful paintings…

McCarthy Museum deck, building, and rail car

mccarthy alaska museum deck painting

This year my wife and I decided to spend the entire summer in McCarthy, Alaska in the heart of the Wrangell St. Elias National Park!  We have a 10 acre lot on the south side of the town of McCarthy.  It was fun, but since we had yet to have built a building, I spent almost all my time outside in the fresh air.  Since this is a bit different than my usual life, I would jump at any chance to get some time under a roof (especially this summer as we have had so much rain).  I decided it would be nice to give back to the community, and get some inside time so I volunteered at the McCarthy Museum.  The Museum used to be open to the public without an attendant, however due to recent objects walking off without anyone to observe their departure, the board of directors decided it was imperative that an attendant be present.  I stepped up to the plate and volunteered several times this summer.  I painted this from the deck between the building and rail-car which houses the collections.  McCarthy and Kennecott have such rich histories although these settlements are only around 100 years old, aside from Nome, and Cordova, this is one of the oldest industrialized areas in Alaska.  It is extra special due to its rich history and well preserved artifacts.  It is especially interesting because the entire town shut down all at once when the Kennecott Mine closed.  What was once a bustling mining district became instant ghost towns.  The towns of McCarthy and Kennecott became devoid of life except for a few hardy hermits, pirates, and homesteaders.  Although the park has almost as many tourists and summer residents now as it had prospectors during the 20’s and 30’s, in the winter months the whole park just about shuts down except for a few hardy souls who winter over the dark and frozen months.  I love the McCarthy Museum and I enjoyed making this painting.  Later in the season, I gave it away as a birthday present to the notorious B-Mack, at his classic birthday party “The Endless BBQ.”  The Endless BBQ is an awesome party held every year, this year with great music by the Grannies and an amazing performance by a lady that goes by the name of Saucy Yoda.

Hiking to the Jumbo Mine in WSENP

jumbo mine alaska painting kennecott

Back from the Wrangell St. Elias National Park.  I painted some in the park this summer all plein air, as I was in the process of creating my indoor painting studio while I was there.  My wife and I had the most amazing summer camping out and building our little hut that will be a painting studio with a little sleeping loft.  One of the best experiences we had in the park was when we hiked to the Jumbo Mine.  This is the first and only time I have had the opportunity to climb up into this part of the Bonanza Ridge, to the ruins of the Jumbo Mine.  Not much left of the buildings and I decided to hike to the top of the ridge.  I was a little bit ahead of the others and sped quickly to the highest point under the cliffs on the ridge.  With a few minutes to spare as I was waiting for the crew, I painted this painting looking back towards the Chugach Mountains.  While on the ridge, I found lots of green rocks, (Chalcocite with Malachite) a whole vein up on the mountains!  It feels so great to be on the top of these amazing bodies of metal.  I was glad that I made it down with minimal damage to my painting.  Hiking 10+ miles with a plein air kit is not too difficult, but making it successfully home with a wet oil painting is more difficult that most people might imagine, so I always sigh a breath of relief when I get home successfully with a new plein air piece.