High fashion meets Fur Rondy at Anchorage bar
There may be no sled dog races at this year’s Fur Rendezvous, but festival-goers can still see a few huskies at the Killjoy Tasting Room.
Located in downtown Anchorage, near the intersection of Fourth Avenue and D Street, the fondue and wine bar is celebrating its first anniversary in the muni. And in that time, Killjoy has become known for the artwork that lines its walls — from nude models kissing cats to women wearing flapper dresses holding slim cigarettes.
This time, it’s Loki and Sol, a pair of huskies owned by an Anchorage couple. They are joined by local model Magdalena Martynowicz, and the result is “Imperial Rendezvous,” an Anastasia-inspired art series, shot by photographer Thuy Vo.
“When we’ve shot for Killyjoy before, we’ve used animals in the past– kittens,” said Vo, who serves as the bar’s resident artist. “And we’ve been kind of looking for a reason to use dogs.”
She says after talks with stylist and artistic director Christine Eagleson, Fur Rondy just fit.
“We really liked the idea of wolves, and how we could incorporate wolves into an artistic piece,” said Eagleson. “And then how that could dovetail on top of doing something that was Alaskan, incorporating our Russian culture and heritage, and the influx of the Fur Rondy and how exciting that is.”
Capturing the high fashion of Imperial Russia while keeping it close to home is what Vo aimed to accomplish with this series, using a team of local talent and partnering with the Anchorage Opera to hold the photo shoot in the building’s loft.
And Loki and Sol were naturals, Eagleson says.
“I think you’d expect to have these really large dogs come in and almost kind of crash a shoot,” Eagleson said. “But they came in and were calm, they were almost happy to be there. We thought they were trained models.”
The photos have been a hit since they debuted at Killjoy, says Brian Patterson, the bar’s general manager.
“We’ve had several different sets in here that have been considered a little provocative,” said Patterson. “They do become conversation starters.”
He says “Imperial Rendezvous” has been “a little less risqué” than say, “Haute Cature” — which garnered a number of nicknames from spectators, most not as tasteful as the photographs themselves.
“Those caused a little bit of a stir,” Patterson laughed.
But he says the same is true of Killjoy itself.
“We’ve definitely opened a place that’s kind of atypical for Anchorage and for Alaska in general,” he said of the bar, owned by Brynn and Antoine McLeod. “You know, we get people who come in and say, ‘This isn’t very Alaskan. This is something you see in Seattle or Portland or New York.'”
Patterson says it is, and it isn’t.
Yes, Killjoy stands out among the array of bars on Fourth Avenue, with its chandeliers, fashionable artwork and fondue (as opposed to the very “Alaskan” alternatives or the grandeur of Hard Rock Cafe). But Patterson says Killjoy has created a space for those who are in touch with the Seattles, Portlands and New Yorks of the world — or for those who are just curious.
And Vo’s artwork fit the ambiance, Patterson says, giving Killjoy’s patrons something to talk about at the tasting room.