Delicate intentionsLarry Ahvakana's art is in the details.
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:58 PM
"Inupiaq/Eskimo artist Larry Ahvakana's subtle, meditative sculptures at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts ask the viewer to linger and look, rather than cruise on by.Ahvakana makes each piece a complete, self-contained statement.I hardly ever do a series, Ahvakana said. I know it's good for the marketplace, but I wanted a stated purpose for each piece. Ahvakana, who trained at Rhode Island School of Design, combines an evolved personal iconography with sophisticated formal knowledge - the language of shape, texture, line and color that comprise the physicality of an artwork.Ahvakana renders every detail for a reason, making formal decisions that may be deciphered by the knowledgeable, and appreciated - if not analyzed - by the lay person.In Loon Dancer, a dimunitive, kneeling bronze figure has the gesture of the head reinforced by the individual strands of hair.A woman drummer made of chunky white alabaster that seems to emanate light, is held in balance with delicate birch drum frame by virtue of Ahvakana's sensitive handling of texture and form. In Talking Stick Journeys, a female figure's realistically carved upper torso pulls away from representation in the lower half, a form drawn down until it diminishes to a smooth point in taut stillness that viewers may experience as the physical embodiment of spiritual connection.By painting precise red stripes down the length of both gunwales, Ahvakana clinches what is already a beautiful piece. When one thinks of the word recognition applied to an artist, one might imagine fame, fortune and following. But there's another kind of recognition that artists may need, and it's perhaps the more basic definition of the word: Artists want to be seen. They want their intentions to be understood. Deep apprehension takes an active sort of looking on the part of viewers; it takes work to complete the circuit between viewer, object and artist, to close the circle with true apprehension.But, to understand can be the truest homage.* * * * *Larry Ahvakana demonstrates carving 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 11 and exhibits sculptures in wood, stone and bronze, with printmaker Joe Feddersen, through August at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts. Call 842-3132. "