• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
News Alert: DIRECTV Customers: Tell DIRECTV to bring back KTVA - Call 800-531-5000. - Read More
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

    Juneau to review new affordable housing project

    by Associated Press on Feb 27, 14:55

    Juneau officials are considering a plan to construct dozens of affordable homes to help meet the demand for single-family housing in the city. The Juneau Empire reports that the city’s Planning Commission is set to review the proposed Pederson Hill Subdivision on Tuesday. Officials say the project would contain 86 residential lots designed to attract […]

  • Politics

    Alaska Senate leader: Passing a permanent fund bill critical

    by Associated Press on Feb 27, 14:43

    The majority leader of the Alaska Senate says he will consider this session a success if lawmakers pass the state operating and infrastructure budgets and a bill that allows for structured draws from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund. Republican Sen. Peter Micciche told reporters Monday that when you add “extreme cuts” or broad-based taxes to the mix, […]

  • Lifestyle

    SpaceX says it will fly 2 people around the moon next year

    by Associated Press on Feb 27, 13:23

    SpaceX says it will fly two people to the moon next year. Company chief Elon Musk announced the surprising news Monday. Two people who know one another approached the company about sending them on a weeklong flight just beyond the moon. Musk won’t identify the pair or the price tag. He says they’ve already paid […]

  • On-Air

    Teacher of the Week: Laura Freeman

    by James Gaddis on Feb 27, 12:14

    For the first time in Laura Freeman’s 16-year teaching career, she is teaching just one subject — math. KTVA 11’s Teacher of the Week was instrumental in changing the fifth and sixth grade class structure, at Baxter Elementary School, to a middle school model. This year, the school’s oldest students have a different teacher for math, english, […]

  • Weather

    Plow crews reopen Elliott Highway, work to open Steese

    by Associated Press on Feb 27, 10:28

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Heavy snowfall and strong winds closed two northern Alaska highways over the weekend. Alaska Department of Transportation spokeswoman Meadow Bailey says crews have reopened the Elliott Highway after a closure Sunday and are working to reopen the Steese Highway. She says truckers heading for North Slope oil fields face hazardous conditions […]

  • News

    Wasilla man killed in snowmachine wreck in Talkeetna

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 27, 9:30

    A 19-year-old was killed in a snowmachine wreck in Talkeetna Sunday. At 3:20 p.m., Alaska State Troopers were notified of a “possible fatality in the area of the Talkeetna Mountains, near Yoder Road, in Talkeetna,” the agency said. Jacob Harris, of Wasilla, was found underneath his idling snowmachine near a steep embankment. He was unresponsive. Other […]

  • News

    AST: 1 killed in Butte house fire

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 27, 9:20

    A woman was killed and a man was injured in a house fire on South Knik River Road Sunday, according to Alaska State Troopers. Troopers and the Mat-Su Fire Department were called to the home at 12:54 p.m. for a report of a residence fully engulfed in flames, with one woman still inside, AST said. “Investigation revealed […]

  • Lifestyle

    Chugiak first responder thankful for community support after snowboarding accident

    by Daniella Rivera on Feb 27, 7:30

    A Chugiak first responder who’s used to rescuing other people found himself on the other side of an accident last week. Peter Casey works as a flight paramedic for LifeMed Alaska and helps out with Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue. In his free time, the lifelong Alaskan enjoys the outdoors and spending time with his family. But […]