‘Portable Southeast’ brings Alaskan artists’ work on six-city tour

The show will next head to Sitka, followed by Haines, Yakutat and Juneau
‘Portable Southeast’ brings Alaskan artists’ work on six-city tour
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 11:37 AM AKST
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaskans across the state have so much amazing artwork to share, but along with getting new work into galleries and other spaces, getting to other communities to show that artwork off can be a challenge in a place like this.

Enter “Portable Southeast,” the new, traveling art exhibit that is currently making its way through the Southeast region of Alaska. It features artists who are from Southeast communities – including a group that’s showing for the first time – who have created works in various mediums.

“I think it was really born from the need to connect with other coastal communities and towns,” said Meghan Chambers, the project manager for the exhibit. “Obviously, we all experience some level of isolation living in Alaska, and Southeast communities even more so, because we don’t have a road system that connects us. We do have a ferry system, but it runs seldom these days. So to send artwork to other communities and to provide new artists opportunities so that artists can showcase their work outside of their town was a really inspiring idea for me.”

Chambers, who is an events contractor and an artist herself, had the idea for a traveling show about seven years when she saw something similar on a trip to Scotland, and said all of the work on display is inspired by living in coastal Southeast Alaska.

“When I saw a little art gallery in the middle of nowhere in a little coastal town in Scotland, I thought, ‘Oh my God, we’ve got to bring this to Southeast Alaska,’” Chambers said, adding that the State Council on the Arts came out with a new grant called the Community Arts Partnership Grant. That was the ticket for a chance to make this years-long idea come to life.

“My colleagues at the (Juneau Arts & Culture Center) applied for it and received it, and then asked me if I wanted to join and help project manage,” she explained. “And now, here we are.”

KFSK, which previously reported on the exhibit, spoke with Cindi Lagoudakis about the purpose of the show and what it means to have such an opportunity in the region. She told the outlet that “broad representation” was an important aspect of the project.

“We intentionally spread out,” said Lagoudakis, who was the one who unpacked the pieces to put them on display at the Clausen Memorial Museum in Petersburg. “We wanted as many artists represented as possible... The idea was to grab as many pieces of art as we could.”

Six different cities are hosting the exhibit, which features more than two dozen works of art, into the summer. Ketchikan was the first stop; the show is now in Petersburg at the Clausen Memorial Museum, and will be there until Feb. 23.

The next stop is Sitka for the month of March, where the work will be on display at the Harbor Mountain Brewing Company. That will be followed by a trip to Haines, so that people can view the exhibit at the Port Chilkoot Distillery, and then Yakutat, where a site for the exhibit has yet to be announced. All of the pieces will head back to Juneau in June, where they will be on display at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center Gallery from June 2 to June 30.

Chambers said that, while this is the inaugural “Portable Southeast” tour, the hope is that it might continue as an annual event.

At the end of the six-city series, artists who have opted in will have their works up for sale online.

Those interested can learn more about the exhibit at the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council website.