• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 36s

Island art festival sets sights north

By Kirsten Swann 2:40 PM January 23, 2014

Organizers of an international street art movement hope to bring the larger-than-life project home to the Last Frontier.

ANCHORAGE – A Hawaii-based international art project is on track to breathe new life into the Anchorage cityscape.

Pow! Wow! – the brainchild of artist Jasper Wong – is a global network of artists centered around a week-long street art festival held in Hawaii since 2011.  The festival brings together acclaimed international and local artists to create large-scale murals, and for the past three years, the project has covered Hawaii’s Kaka’ako district with thousands of square feet of original, colorful public works of art.

It’s the same splash of color Alaskan Alexis Vaught is working to bring to the Last Frontier.

“To me, Alaska is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich places on this planet,” Vaught said. “I would not only love to share my home with some of today’s brightest and most prolific street artists, but be able to give the community something to have year round.”

Vaught is working with Wong to coordinate the project. She said if she could secure the wall space, the festival’s founder would bring the artists and supplies. The undertaking would require as much room as possible, Wong said: Participating artists liked creating larger-than-life paintings that would have big impacts on the surrounding areas.

In northeast Anchorage, Mao Tosi said he knows just the spot.

The community advocate and manager of the Northway Mall said he’s offering up the shopping center’s blank walls to the island art project. The mall – which houses several dozen local businesses and sits adjacent to the Glenn Highway – could provide as much as 200,000 square feet of blank canvas for visiting and local artists, Tosi said. Artists could transform the aging building’s interior atriums and the big back walls overlooking the highway.

“It’s something that I would love to see here,” he said. “I just really think Mountain View needs those type of art projects to happen.”

While Tosi said he’s extended the offer, the project remains in the planning stages.

Arielo Taylor, one of the Anchorage artists Vaught contacted about the project, said he believes it could introduce fresh ideas and new colors into the city scenery.

“It would be great to do pieces in schools, community centers, and eventually all neighborhoods, pretty much anywhere people will see it,” Taylor said. “I’d like people to see art and get inspired by it, or at least stop and appreciate it for a minute.”

Taylor’s own work ranges from street art to oil painting. He said he’d like to see the large-scale mural project take place Downtown, where business and foot traffic combined for maximum visibility.

“It’s kind of like the center of our art scene,” he said.

Vaught said she’s working to reach out to the Anchorage Downtown Partnership. While some buildings in the downtown business district already sport full-scale murals — like the whales on the side of 5th Avenue Mall or the scene overlooking the parking lot at City Hall — many others sport sloppy graffiti or peeling paint jobs.

That’s where Pow! Wow! could come in, Vaught said.

“This project would give insight to our community on what’s going on artistically and culturally around the globe, while allowing them to watch masters create and experience the whole creative process,” she said. “It is time to put Alaska on the map in the art world.”

Wong said the festival’s network included artists from Cambodia, Australia, Germany, Austria, London, Japan, China, Portugal, Chile and beyond. With enough space, he said he’d like to bring them all.

Tosi, whose wall space sits at the corner of one of the busiest intersections in the state and across the highway from the most culturally diverse neighborhood in the country, thinks it would be a perfect fit.

“As far as visibility, none are as strong as the Northway Mall,” he said. “I’ve always said this is just a canvas.”

While Vaught works with the project’s founder to finalize the details, she said she’s encouraged by the initial flood of positive responses from Alaskan artists.

“Art is life and I think it’s important to bring another piece of culture and experience home and share it with others,” she said.

Click here to learn more about the project.

Latest Stories

  • News

    East Anchorage trailer park development project put on hold

    by Lauren Maxwell on May 26, 18:13

    A project to turn an East Anchorage trailer park into upscale housing has been put on hold. Phase one of the project at the Riviera Terrace Mobile Home Park off of Boniface Parkway was supposed to start this summer. But owner and developer Cameron Johnson says contamination from an old heating fuel spill is worse […]

  • Crime

    UPDATE: Police release video in May 17 Fairbanks homicide

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 26, 17:18

    Updated May 26, 5:15 p.m. Fairbanks police have released video from the May 17 homicide of John D. Kavairlook, Jr. FPD is seeking the public’s help in identifying the three men shown in the video below — sought in connection with the events surrounding Kavairlook’s death. Anyone who can identify the individuals in the video is asked […]

  • Crime

    Fairbanks man arrested for trying to set occupied home on fire

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 26, 14:45

    A 52-year-old man was arrested on assault and attempted arson charges after he tried to set an occupied home on fire early Monday morning, authorities say. Around 4 a.m. Monday, Alaska State Troopers received a 911 call ”reporting an individual pouring gasoline around an occupied structure,” an online dispatch says. The home is located off Chena […]

  • News

    AST: Human remains recovered believed to be missing Kotlik child

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 26, 11:31

    Human remains found in a large, water-filled hole in the village of Kotlik Sunday are believed to be those of a 4-year-old child who went missing last year, authorities say. Last May, the Kotlik Police Department notified Alaska State Troopers in Emmonak that a 4-year-old boy in the village had not returned home after playing […]

  • News

    Wildfire officials monitor fire burning near Eagle

    by Associated Press on May 26, 8:49

    Alaska fire officials are monitoring a wildfire that was ignited over the holiday weekend by lighting. The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center reports the Seventy Mile Fire began Sunday and by Tuesday had burned 1,250 acres, or just under two square miles, near Eagle. The coordination center says the fire is moving northwest away from Eagle […]

  • Weather

    Daybreak weather, May 26

    by Brett Shepard on May 26, 8:14

    Southcentral A beautiful day in store for us with partly cloudy skies. Southeast Skies will be mostly to partly cloudy today. Interior Mostly to partly sunny skies. North Slope Mostly to partly cloudy skies. West Mostly cloudy to the south with partly cloudy skies to the north. Southwest Cloudy skies for most of the region […]

  • News

    Wood bison bulls take barge to meet transplanted herd

    by Associated Press on May 26, 7:52

    Sixteen wood bison bulls are traveling by barge to join a herd established this spring near the western Interior village of Shageluk. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (http://bit.ly/1LCgJiK) bulls from the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage were loaded Saturday onto a barge headed down the Tanana and Yukon rivers in the final phase of […]

  • Contests

    Photo Caption Contest – May 26

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 26, 7:00

    Alaska… From wildlife to landscapes, cities to villages, this state provides photo ops that you won’t find anywhere else. So, what happens after you take that incredible shot? If you post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you inevitably need to caption it — or let someone else do it for you. That’s exactly what […]