Monday, January 7, 2013

Alaska Artists

Many great artists are native to the state of Alaska. Alaska's most beloved and renowned resident artist and historical painter, Sydney Mortimer Laurence is best known for his trademark paintings of Mount McKinley. He, perhaps more than any other artist, helped create an image of Alaska as 'the last frontier'. Sydney Laurence was becoming renowned for his work throughout France and England, but he was unsatisfied. In 1904, at the age of 38, Laurence left his wife and two young sons in England and moved to Alaska, lured by adventure as well as stories of gold. Laurence was the first professionally trained artist to make Alaska his home During the artist's first eight years in Alaska, he painted very little. Rather, he moved around Alaska, prospecting and doing odd jobs as well as professional photography.

Living the hard life of the pioneer prospector, Sydney Laurence painted little in his first years in the territory, but between 1911 and 1914 he began to focus once again on his art. He moved from Valdez to the budding town of Anchorage in 1915.

In 1915, when Anchorage was brand new, Laurence established his studio in the lobby of the Anchorage Hotel and took an upstairs apartment. Doing business as The Sydney Laurence Co., he engaged in commercial photography as well as painting. He is responsible for recording many of the earliest images of Anchorage, from its days as a tent city, to the public auction of city lots, to the first snowfall on the new city's main street.

One of Alaska's most beloved artists, Jules Dahlager is often associated with fellow painters Sydney Laurence, Eustace Ziegler, and Ted Lambert as part of the "Alaska Four." Particularly known for his small paintings of Southeast Alaska, these little works have become known as Jules' jewels. Jules Dahlager was born in Brookings, Dakota Territory in 1884. He was a contemporary of Eustace P. Ziegler and Sydney Lawrence but never gained the fame of these two artists. Jules Dahlager was personally encouraged, however, by both men to continue his painting. Jules Dahlager's  paintings are treasured by many. 

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