The Cheesiest Art in Fairbanks?


We need a break from the Senate Torture Report so, at the risk of an entirely different kind of torture, let’s wallow in really bad art.

For the last quarter century, as WC has exited the elevator in his office building, headed to the courthouse, he’s been greeted by the sight of this amazingly tacky moose-sized work of art. For a given definition of “art.”

Is this the cheesiest "art" in Fairbanks?

Is this the cheesiest “art” in Fairbanks?

It’s moose-sized because the medium is wood-burned, tanned moosehide. That’s right, a very bad rendering of a moose under attack by a pack of amazingly badly drawn wolves, scorched on to tanned moosehide. With dyed moosehide fringe strips along the bottom. And it’s titled, too: “His Last Battle.” Sheesh.

Here’s a detail shot.

Unflattering closeup

Unflattering closeup

There are too many things wrong here to even attempt a critique. And yes, it’s signed, but WC sees no point in mortifying the artist’s heirs by posting the name here. WC supposes that the long, dark winter nights in Fairbanks left someone with far too much time on their hands.

According to the building manager, Marc Langland, former President of Key Bank of Alaska, found this somewhere in the Seattle area, and decided it would look good on the wall of the Key Bank foyer. He left a few years later to help found Northrim Bank, but, worst luck, he left the moosehide behind.

WC supposes it is possible that there is cheesier art in Fairbanks. But he doesn’t have to look at it every day. Or see a badly drawn moose being taken down by badly drawn wolves as he heads to court.

On reconsideration, maybe this isn’t such a good change of subject…

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2 thoughts on “The Cheesiest Art in Fairbanks?

  1. A good part of the downtown economy is built upon such humble imagery scratched upon antlers and daubed over goldpans. While this piece does indeed rank in the top three in the cheesy category, should you wish to experience the most meaningless artwork exhibited in the Interior, make sure and visit the new Vogel 50×50 show featuring the work of Richard Tuttle, on display at the Museum of the North. That will refresh your appreciation for lowly moose hide, which in comparison at least demonstrates honest effort if not skill in craftsmanship.
    Recently did a writeup on some of the very impressive and outstanding works on display at the Rabonowitz, which is presumably on your rounds and ought to provide a healing balm to the eyes. Of course you’ll unfortunately also be within easy viewing distance of another aesthetic aberration in our community, The Fortress of Solitude (aka “Polaris”).

  2. Haw, these bankers, aren’t they always trying to send a lesson or something to us all? What though is the message: The call of the Wild where only the strong survive? The school of hard knocks?

    Reminds me of Dan Cuddy, Alaska bank magnate here in Anchorage, First National Bank of Alaska (founded by his father). Dan liked to shoot wolves from the air, one time he almost got killed doing so, back in the late 1960s, pilot error, he was flying.

    Anyway, Dan had come across a scene almost identical to the one you have here. Someone had taken color photos of an actual moose kill in progress, first picture was of the poor moose out in the middle of meadow surrounded by a very large wolf pack, second they were closing in, then they were on the moose, etc, final scene was just a large red spot on the ground.

    Dan had these enlarged and framed, believe they hung in his office downtown at one time. After the bank opened their main branch on C Street and 36th he put them on the wall in a large office off the main floor of the bank, where half a dozen ladies or more had desks. One time I was getting some documents notarized or something in there.

    While waiting I got to focusing on this macabre scene surrounding me. When the staffer showed up I asked her “Is Dan trying to tell you something, nodding at the pictures” in response she gritted her teeth and grimaced.

    Now, I have to admit that as bankers go, Dan does a pretty good job of running his bank. However, the question occurred to me how Dan would fare in similar circumstances if born a moose instead of being born into aristocracy and given a bank?

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