I spent several years working and exploring in remote corners of Alaska as a young woman. This required transportation in floatplanes and small boats to rocky shores, arctic lakes, meandering rivers
and remote airstrips. The weather played an important part in determining departure and pickup times. It seemed that the pickups were often the most delayed. Maybe that’s because it was the end of a trip when I was tired, cold, and desperately in need of a shower and my own bed.
I just returned from a week’s visit to Juneau, Alaska. Juneau was one of my residences as a young person as I explored the far North in the late 1970s and early 80s. Besides visiting friends and seeking better snow for XC skiing than Oregon had to offer, on this itinerary was attending the 20th annual Juneau Wearable Arts Show. This was my second time for this event after about a 10-year hiatus. The show is put on by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and all proceeds go to their organization.
This is an extravaganza where a majority of the attendees dress to the nines to enjoy the show in a hall equally dressed up. There is dazzling lighting, a long curving runway, and several large monitors placed where you could be sure to have a good view. The professional emcees also wildly decked out. This year they had a local drag queen star and a well known local actor running the show.
Juneau is a relatively small town remotely tucked away in the seclusion of Southeastern Alaska’s majestic landscape with the only access being by boat or air. Still, residents value the arts and know how to come together for a really good time. The entries are from local artists who strive to use recycled and/or unique materials to assemble the garments to match the year’s theme.
This year’s theme was Joie de Vivre (French for “Joy of Life”). Unfortunately, the show was smaller than in years past. Artists have boycotted after an entrant in the 2017 event was accused by a local citizen of cultural appropriation for her geisha themed garment (really???) She was then pulled from the next performance. Still, aside from the politics, I enjoyed the night with all the flair and people watching. I appreciated the fact many of these artists take the better part of a year to fashion their pieces.